Monday, October 16, 2017

My Trek to Kumar Parvatha (KP)

Last weekend, that is, October 14-15 , 2017 I was on a trek to Kumar Parvatha. I had registered for the event to see for myself how difficult the trek is, as it is generally considered to be. I was excited, eager  to experience its alleged strenuous nature and most importantly test how fit I was. Friday night, I had a dosa around 7pm and began anticipating the journey. However, in less than an hour my stomach bloated up, I felt considerable uneasiness in my abdomen region and I was feeling very uncomfortable. Notwithstanding all this unexpected turn of events after eating a dosa (I am not gonna eat again from the same place), I decided to reach the pick-up point. All this while praying that the tightness in the abdomen region will plummet and give me some mental relief. I was in a not very good state of mind, then. I called the organizer and asked if there is any provision for postponing the trek, to which he replied that all the arrangements had been made and expenses paid, therefore, there was no possibility of such provision. I thanked him and did not cancel my entry. I decided to travel with all that discomfort and a state of mind which is very unlikely of me . The enthusiasm and verve which everyone could conspicuously see on my face since morning had been robbed by this untimely abdominal quagmire. And I do not know what kept me going, may be, I just went with the flow and said to myself, "I will see whatever happens". 

The way to Kukke (where KP is located) was bad, the roads full of potholes; there were installments of sleep rather than a more fulfilling sleep. Around 6:30am we reached Kukke and after freshening up and breakfast began the trek. I believe that for the first time I was carrying a backpack on trek (a sleeping bag included). Usually, it is dumped at a lodge and what we carry is only snack to energise us on the way. But from the base station to Bhattar Manne (7km from base station), which was to be our first milestone, it was required that all that stuff was carried which would then be dumped at the Forest Department. From Forest Department begins the final lap of the trek. It was a Saturday morning, usually on Saturday mornings I am doing my leg workout in gym and rejoicing looking at the sweat which adorns my body while working out, but here I was morphed into a walking pail of water. I am not joking, I feel that if I were to add every amount of sweat I have shed so far in my life, it would stand nowhere to the amount I shed during those 7km till Bhattar Manne. Feeling like this which would make me proud in gym, the feeling of sweat dripping from my face, had become so mainstream, I had become like a mobile cloud. Here and there and everywhere it was as if I was leaving the footprints in form of  sweat drops. It was one hell of a feeling, this was definitely more challenging  than doing squats on Smith machine. I still have vivid memories of that; it seemed such a rare delicacy to savor. The me, totally drenched in sweat from head to toe, with hair wet as if out from shower continue to remain one of my fondest memories of the trek. The way to Bhattar Manne tests your leg strength. It is not that steep a slope as from Bhattar Manne to KP. Further, it is still lenient as to offer paths of less   inclines, so you seem to    have times of relaxation in between intermittently. Many people were climbing down as we were climbing up. I was wearing my favorite shirt, which says, "The Beast Never Stops". A man who was descending, I saw him resting on a rock. He looked at the sparkling me (in sweat) and with a smile on his face, repeated the lines on my tee shirt. I tapped on his shoulder as I continued to move and uttered, "I am discovering". 

There were many people who were trekking on that day; some were climbing down, some were ascending, some were resting while some were having a good time with their beloveds on the side of streams on the path. As for me, I was busy scaling the heights, talking to self, talking to air, to ether, thanking every tree on the way which lent its hand to me, thanking every root which  stood strong enough to bear the weight of my body. I rested once on that 7km stretch, second time to drink water and eat some dry fruits to fuel my co-operative body. On the trek I also met a lot of people at whom if we look our first reaction would be, "Wow ! Now that is guts". On various treks I have seen many people who are overweight and that has led me to learn that may be there is no relationship that strong between the extra-kilos and the heights onw can scale. It obviously takes lot of mental strength to challenge oneself to trek to difficult terrains when you know you are not at an ideal weight. I did appreciate a lady without sounding offensive. I believe my words were, "I am very proud to see you here". 

Bhattar Manne happened, I relaxed there for half an hour, had lunch (Anna & Sambhar). I was happy that I could eat as much rice I wanted for I was shedding calories and required carbohydrates. However, I chided the tempted me and maintained good proportion of rice enough to sustain me for the next phase of the trek. We dumped our sleeping bags and tents at the Forest Department and with few snacks, water bottle and a rain-coat tee began our journey to nail KP. The joy of less weight was profound and very encouraging. Somehow it had filled me with much more renewed energy, vigor, strength and confidence. But the path was interesting. Almost 90% of the path was incline and I learnt that that is what is referred as tough by the trekkers. However, it was doable. There were foreigner girls also and they were ahead of all of us; never stopping, going on, climbing up, faster and faster. That was encouraging and I felt proud of them. It seemed as if no incline was steep enough for them. While climbing, entire time the breeze was cool, refreshing as if festooning our path with its energy and instilling in all of us the required strength to reach till the peak (1,712 metres). 

After some time we reached Sesha parvatha and the view from there was breath taking. Looking down it seemed as if the Earth was engulfed in fog, there was nothing to be seen around, except for the Divine Beauty of nature spared by the atrocious hands of Human Being. I stood on the big boulders and that zephyr is still fresh in my mind, the kind that no world-class AC can provide. I do not know how I felt, I had become devoid of thoughts, utterly, purely, absolutely blank. I just stood marvelling at the majesty of Nature.  From there, Prasanna (one of our warm-hearted guides) told us that it would take another 30 minutes to peak. The excitement knew no bounds, but it was not the kind of wild excitement, it was the one defined by equanimity. Finally, we began towards the KP peak and taking step by step, crossing boulder by boulder, making path on the rocky terrain reached the coveted peak. I was not tired, I had never felt tired during the course of the trek (There are situations in life when getting tired is not an option). There was something that had kept me going and I do not know what that was. But I do realize that "With God everything is possible". 

Trekking, I believe teaches us some of the greatest lessons of life and that there is an insane amount of striking similarity between trekking and life (topic of my upcoming posts). But most importantly it teaches us empirically about what can happen if we just keep on taking single step at a time. All of us were taking one step at a time, left, right, left and right, up-down, up-down. That's all. I do not think there can be any better proof of what Lao Tzu says in Tao Te Ching, "The journey of 1000 steps begins with first step" than trekking. And as Wayne Dyer had added to it, taking one step at a time, that is doable, that can be done. Period.

 There was a point in trek when I was questioning my sanity, I kept on going and talking to myself, laughing at myself. I converted this trek to an ongoing conversation with the Universe throwing questions which I believe are on my way to be answered. There were times when there was no one around, lost to my own about figuring out the way it seemed scary many times but every time it happened I followed the path, a faith that someone was around. This again has mind-blowing congruence with life and I am eager to write about it in my next post. Sometimes when I felt lost, I would look at ground, an unclaimed shoe here and there, a chocolate wrapper, a single sock would confirm    that I was on the right track. Even in group treks, it is very easy to become aloof from everyone; you sort of get separated and get joined to your own being propelling self by courage and faith. Trek is like a journey within, a difficult trek is like a journey within devoid of all distractions of life, left to our own solitude, which initially seems like a paralysis and then becomes our greatest Guide.

At Kumar Parvatha Peak

I am really grateful to Prasanna and Ved (our co-ordinators). Prasanna is extremely fit, no wonder he is part of the wonderful Bangalore Mountaineering Club (BMC).

The Trek is doable and I am not saying it because I did it (Come on, there are foot prints on Moon), I am saying it because it just demands that one is fit and strong. It is a beginning to another level of fitness, a higher level. You can do it. I feel its difficulty is exaggerated, KP only teaches us how strong we are. Some people will say, that I say all this because I am fit, which I believe is all the more reason to believe because I was not this fit since my  birth. We can all be insanely fit if we choose to be and nothing tastes as good as being strong. 

The trek was a singular event but it has given me so much to write about that one blog post does not seem enough. And then there are conversations which are wordless, which even words will shy from explaining; silent musings about life. Some blog posts are safe kept in my heart because if I strive to bring them down to the level of keyboard I know I will not be satisfied by the rendering of amorphous beauty into tangible text. 

Trekking is a wonderful outdoor physical activity, one must experience it multiple number of times in their lives. I am eternally thankful to BMC for organizing such a wonderful event and conducting it with grace and concern for all the participants. 

From here on, we only up the GAME! 


Monday, October 2, 2017

The wound does not need the healing, the wound is the healing

The word "Healing" has always confounded me. I used to feel that I understand its import but I feel that as with almost everything in the world, this one also is not the kind which can be understood once and for all. I feel poetry will be the best way to convey what my heart has to say:

A wound it was,
"If I allow it to heal", I thought,
It would heal, 
Then I'd run and then I'd jump,
Hop and Jump and glide around,
I thought all this and
dreamt of it,
day and night and night and day.
I thought that I knew healing,
And then when the wound will heal,
That I'd heal.

Time  passed.
And now I have learnt,
How wrong was I to feel,
That I knew the meaning of getting healed.
Today I know,
The wound didn't need healing,
The wound was the healing. 
Healing the many parts in me,
that clung to the permanence of my physical being,
the strength of my knee, the glow on my face,
the power in my biceps,
and the kick of my leg.

The wound didn't need healing, 
The wound was the healing.
I can apply this to so many situations,
scenes and cases in life that goes by.
My friend went away,
no message, no "bye", no "see you",
nothing did she say.
And I believed if I let it stay,
The gap will heal me, 
And after I am healed, 
The friend will come my way.
Could not  I have been more wrong.
Little did I know back then, 
The gap was the healing, 
The departure was the healing,
The disappearance was the healing.
Healing is what happens,
When the expectations after healing are,
not in mind or in heart,
when healing is allowed,
slow or fast.

So, today a little wiser I am,
And I know this well,
The wound does not need healing,
the wound is the healing. 
Togetherness, Separation, Healing, Togetherness,
this is not how it works,
Togetherness, Separation, Healing, More Love, More Healing, FREEDOM
This is I believe how it works.

I have learnt that spending time anticipating that wound will get completely healed is living in a lie because that is not allowing us to see at the wound properly and the treasure it has at its core, this expectation is acting as a veil to the further liberation that is waiting to happen. I have learnt that expectations of flow of events after healing has happened impedes in allowing healing to take its natural course. Healing then becomes a means to an end, and that however, is not healing. Do you know that every moment of your life you are getting healed?  You get something you are healed, you get rid of something you are healed, you separate from something you are healed, you meet someone you are healed. I am learning that every moment of my life works in my best interest and that I am getting healed, every second.Period.  And I know I have just scratched the surface of healing. :)

The wound does not need the healing, the wound is the healing.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

SLGBTQIA or Human Being?

It was a normal, in fact a very beautiful conversation that I was having with Sanjana in the evening hours in the cafeteria of our office last week. We were talking on a variety of topics from spirituality, to awareness, our favorite word “intention”, humans, sex, gender, sexual orientations, marriages, society, biology, reproductive system, dynamics of childbirth, dynamics of attraction, aesthetics, designing, engineering, patents, innovation, research, the list can really go on and on. So, you can see there was a vast range of topics over which we were having discourses. In the middle of the discourses a very interesting thing emerged and our spontaneous reaction was , “Wow! That is one hell of an observation.”. Ecstatic as if we had made some kind of discovery, we had light in our eyes and hands high up in air in the posture of a High-Five!

This observation emerged when we were talking about “coming out of closets”, or “identifying as LGBTQIA”, or “labelling self as ABCXYZ”. Rationally speaking, I have never really believed in confining human or human behavior into boxes of labels. I believe with insane conviction that we are all on a path of self-discovery, that we are discovering ourselves moment after moment  (if we are not distracted by life’s worthless pursuits), that what I was a decade back is not what I am today and what I will be a decade later will be completely different from what I am today. The labelling business has never attracted me. The observation was that why there is no “S” in the LGBTQIA. Now, I bet you never thought that way right? We also never had. It just happened in the spur of the moment, going with the flow. And the most delightful thing? The observation  did make sense to us. When there is so much of traction about recognition of one’s uniqueness in almost every way today, there needs to be inclusivity also. When the whole battle is about identity, then why is “S” not there? Inherent in the battle of freedom of sexual orientation lies the very bias I believe is being fought against. At the first place, there is no need for identification, we all exist, unique in our own bodies and souls. Now, I am not trying to downplay the movement for equality, I support it, wholeheartedly but I also cannot help wondering the omission of the letter “S”. If everyone identifies with being something, all those “labels” need to be acknowledged - then we can really vouch for equality. Sexual orientation is a spectrum, I believe, just like gender or sex is and we have just been able to scratch the surface of all these diversities which are as natural as our existence on this planet Earth.

Most times people feel that when someone from the LGBTQIA community speaks, they are speaking as LGBTQIA and not as human beings. Labelling has, I feel a burden attached to it, a stamp that one has to conform in a particular way. Can’t we just accept everyone as they are? Then this need will vanish. We no longer will be talking about “coming out of closets”, or “came out” or, “are you from the community” type of questions and assertions. But I understand where this revolution is going. This is a journey to those times when these abbreviations will no longer be required, just like today the world is embracing female power and acknowledging their equal participation. Feminist movement has paved way to these days and LGBTQIA movement is paving way for the days when everyone will have the right to just breathe comfortably under the vast beautiful sky without worrying about “coming out”. The worry, of course, does not exist today, but it really depends on the individual.

Many people feel differently on this while some are extremely ignorant may be because they have not met or known people who are different from them or who are unique in their own ways. I feel I am ahead of my times. I condone the movement, but I also believe that there is no need to come out, ever heard a straight person coming out or saying,  “Hey fellas! I have discovered that I am straight”. Instead of creating a communities of specific types, we need to herald a community where all of us with any gender, sex, race, sexual orientation hang out together and create an archetype of “vasudhaivam kudumbakam” (the entire Earth is my family). Creating communities has a potential to create further divides in the society, further conflicts and wars. It is not the question of “you against me”, it has always been the question of “can you and me be, just be”. We need to create awareness and I believe the equality movement has been very successful, in ways unprecedented, in making the presence of sexual orientation diversity not only heard but respected with dignity.

I believe that the only places and interactions we need to “come out” are the ones that we forge in our personal lives, because that is where it matters the most. I have a dream, I dream of a world where we identify people not as SLGBTQIA but what these SLGBTQIAs stand for and how they are doing their bit to create a kinder world, a better world and a more empathetic world. And guess what? It begins with ME. It begins with YOU. In my life, I have taught myself to pay heed only to this fact when coming across someone, “How is this person using his/her talents and gifts to add value to his/her existence and the community in which he/she lives?”. That has kept my life simple, everything else I have discovered is a distraction that snatches our time, the time which could be invested in creating something productive. 

PS: Never underestimate the power of meaningful discussions!

Small is rooted in Big, Big is rooted in Small

All of us have dreams, goals and things which we so ardently aspire to achieve in our lives, things which we feel define our being which render us feeling that, “This is what I have been incarnated for in this lifetime”. I believe passion directly comes from that vision which we have for ourselves, the vision brings us back all time we seem to falter in our lives, the vision guides us, mentors us, it becomes our voice. Lao Tzu said, “The journey of 1000 steps begins with one first step”. Isn’t it funny that we pay attention to what we achieve after we have travelled those 1000 steps and in journey forget that 1000 steps consist of 1 step, repeated a thousand times? That something “big” is nothing but constructed from multiple “small” things, the genesis of “big victories” lies in “small achievements”, the “small things of today” will become “the big things of tomorrow”.

Well, this is my most recent lesson and observation from The School of Life. Everything that seemed “small” to me more than two years back are now the “big” things of my life and today I wonder if there is anything worth labelling as “small”. I no longer believe there is anything called as “small”, it is a journey, it is a part of that big journey. Let me put this into a context. Say there is a student A, she aspires for an Ivy League College. She applies for admission, confident that she will get an admission. Out of curiosity she also applies for an internship with an NGO, now that NGO stands nowhere in front of the college she has applied to. As fortune would have it, she gets admitted into the NGO and not into the college. The stroke that she played relating to NGO seems like a divine intervention in retrospect, two years have passed and she is still with the NGO. Everything that she aspired to learn, the NGO is teaching her. It is an interesting case. Two years down the line, she has learnt that there is no such thing as “small”. The NGO is a milestone in that Ivy League College journey.

This is a very brief anecdote to send across a message that we often forget. The message that we must celebrate victories on our path to glory, the seemingly “small” victories. Because when we take all of them, they make a huge difference. An overweight person loses weight workout after workout, a runner increases his endurance run after run, a bodybuilder increases the pounds he can bench-press session after session. Everyone starts somewhere, there is always a beginning point. But we often do not celebrate these milestones. I am not asking to bask in the glory of these victories and forget the Northern Star goal, all I intend to say is that we must learn to acknowledge when Universe answers in His ways, become more responsible with every milestone and more determined. So, do not get bogged down by the enormity of what you wish to achieve, understand that a step taken every single day is powerful, powerful than you can ever begin to imagine. Since you are in college, allow me to tell you that there is plenty of room for experimentation. Let these years be the most intense experimenting years of your lives. Life is all about experiments, the more the better.

I know you will relate to this, when it happens in your life and when it does you’ll also tread ahead in your life with the wisdom that, “There are no small steps, small achievements or small things”. Keep Dreaming!

Contributed to ABHISHAR in 2017.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


आज किसी ने आपकी तस्वीर देखने का जिक्र किया |  ज़िक्र सुबह हुआ था , उस ज़िक्र का ज़िक्र मानो जैसे मेरे ज़हन से गया ही नहीं है अभी तक  |  उस वक़्त मेरे पास आपकी कोई तस्वीर नहीं थी उन्हें दिखाने के लिए | उन्हें तो नहीं दिखा पाए पर ज़िक्र के बाद से आपकी तस्वीरें  देख कर हम हर उस वक़्त को याद कर रहे हैं, जिन्हे आपके साथ गुज़ारने के मौके हमें मिले  | तस्वीर , कितनी अजीब चीज़ है ना , लम्हों को मानो जैसे हमेशा के लिए कैद कर लेती है | आपको तो तस्वीरें खिचाना बिलकुल न पसंद था , पर देखो ना , आप नहीं तो आपकी तस्वीरें ही हमारी नज़रों के सामने हैं |

तस्वीरें , हम हमेशा खुश पलों की ही तस्वीरें खिचाते हैं ना , कहीं न कहीं हम उस वक़्त को हमेशा के लिए कैद कर लेने की चेष्टा करते हैं | वक़्त निकल जाता है , तस्वीरें रह जातीं हैं और रह जातीं हैं उन तस्वीरों से जुड़ी यादें , उनसे जुड़ी फरियादें और छोड़ जातीं हैं चेहरे पर हलकी सी मुस्कान और दिल में सुकून | काफी ख़ुशी हुई मुझे यह जानकर कि कुछ तस्वीरें आज भी मैंने संभाल के रखीं हैं या यूँ कहो गूगल ड्राइव की बदौलत वो तस्वीरें जिन्दा हैं - अच्छा है |

हर तस्वीर का एक किस्सा होता है, एक कहानी होती है , एक जस्बा होता है | मन ही मन मैं मुस्कुरा रहा था , तस्वीरों के साथ  बिताये वक़्त  का अनुस्मरण जो हो रहा था | दुखी नहीं था, दुःख तो मुझे होता ही नहीं है | खुश था, आपने अपनी ज़िन्दगी के कुछ पल बिताने का मेरे साथ विश्वाश जो किया था |  किसी के विश्वाश के लायक था , सिर्फ सोच के ही आँखें बंद कर एक शान्ति महसूस करता हूँ | ईश्वर ने जितना दिया , काफ़ी  है , काफ़ी था और काफ़ी रहेगा | न जाने क्यों काफी सारी  यादें सिमट आयीं आँखों में मेरी , जब मेरे दोस्त ने आपकी तस्वीर देखने की इच्छा व्यक्त की |
आँखों में चमक थी , सीने में दुआ थी और आगे मेरी मंज़िलें थीं |

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Worth lies within

He who bases his worth on people's whims and fancies,
Soon will learn that worth falls or rises with those opinions, 
He who bases his worth on his own self,
Will neither rejoice in fame nor become gloomy in failures,
For he knows, the value, his value, 
which lies in his eyes, no success can change, no failure can mitigate. 

People's idea of worth is like seasons, 
Changing all the time, fleeting and illusory, 
He who maps his worth to the yardstick of society,
Will soon realize, the truth of worth, 
"My worth lies in how look at myself,
not at how people do". 

The nature of people's sense of success is volatile, 
If East is the way today, 
It won't take much time for East to become West,
West to become North and North to become South. 
He who is owned by people,
Will learn soon to own his being and 
own what he stands for. 

If we all base our value on what "they say",
We'll never be able to live a life,
or a single day,
being joyful or gay. 

It is time to identify, 
And identify we must, 
to value the self independent of the opinions of people,
For today if they assess you while you rise, 
or canonize you in this ascent,
most are waiting for you to fall down,
many more are waiting for you to ebb.

A Karmayogi that you are, 
walk independent of path,
thorns or roses, 
walk and keep walking. 

Wisdom is knowing that worth lies within,
Liberation is what happens when
action is guided by that wisdom.

"Ordinary" Things Extraordinary Lessons

Yesterday I was waiting for someone during the lunch hours. The waiting happened for some good 20 minutes. Wary that there was a reason behind the delay and also in an attempt to ward off annoyance at having to wait beyond stipulated time, I directed my attention towards the flowers whose names I did not know (never also, cared to know), the grass which was different from the normal grass and some random leaves, plants with flowers which hardly anyone might pay heed to. I was watching them dancing to the tune of breeze in the afternoon, I was trying to look at the perfection in them remembering Wayne Dyer who never stops reminding people of the ubiquitous nature of perfection everywhere. From "anonymous" flowers to grass to trees, I tried to have a good look at everything around me and not just look but tried to understand them in ways I never have endeavored to. There was so much to learn from all of them. 

These flowers, they are not decorated at flower shops, they are not in demand as much as "roses" are, truth be told they are never in demand, people hardly look at them or admire the beauty that they naturally possess and for most they are as good as nonexistent; yet, the flowers bloom, shine in the sun, rejoice in breeze and nod in exhilaration in rains. The grass, who looks at it? Yet, it is home to millions of ants, insects whose names we do not know, it shields the little creatures of earth and provides home to them. The grass has never ceased to exist just because someone has not acknowledged its presence or paid gratitude to its being. True to its nature and independent of the good opinion of people, the grass relentlessly serves the creatures it is meant to. The trees, how often do we look at them and rejoice that they are the ones which give us the very thing that sustains us on earth? I saw them moving to and fro in the insane wind in the afternoon, their leaves were shining as if smiling at having received the opportunity to groove a little. Independent of the gratitude, acknowledgement or kindness from anyone, they continue to exist and exist with pride (which comes from the sense of purpose) and humility (which comes from having given the opportunity to serve). These things which seemed too ordinary to me to be paid any heed, seemed to be teaching extraordinary lessons during that time. 

These flowers, just because they are not sold in market place does not mean that they are not beautiful, meaningful or are devoid of their own unique identities. They are beautiful in their own ways. And then I asked myself, "Why is it that I have purchased a rose most of the times?", "Am I perpetuating some implicit bias?", "Would I want to purchase a rose from now on". These were few questions that came to my mind during that time. You should have looked at them, these flowers irrespective of anything knew how to rejoice, to send joy to the world with what they are and what they had. Resentment, there was no such thing with them, content  that they existed on this Earth, they knew that the appropriate response to the gift of life is service and gratitude. I never noticed them, never. Thereafter, I could no longer construe them as ordinary, unattractive, mundane or useless. Ignorance breeds judgement, I was learning.

I believe it is beautiful just to bloom, for no reason, but for a simple reason, if I may, that blooming becomes our being. Such that whoever looks at us, blooms as well, irrespective of time, irrespective of place or seasons. Blooming is an art, the flowers, grass and trees reminded of this truth that we are all here to serve. Acknowledgement of others has never mattered, never will, and never ought to : the blooming happens independent of the externalities, the blooming happens because that is all there is. The periphery cannot decide what comes from the centre of our core, the centre decides that and acts on it.

Here is to a truth then, there is no such thing as ordinary, the only thing that can be ordinary is our eyes :)

My Trek to Kumar Parvatha (KP)

Last weekend, that is, October 14-15 , 2017 I was on a trek to Kumar Parvatha. I had registered for the event to see for myself how diffic...