On A Saturday Morning

Writing shall be my main activity for today. So many days have passed, I have not gifted myself the unique beautiful atmosphere that occurs while I write. So writing shall be my main activity for today

Should I write in the notebook or on the computer? I like the vibe that is created when writing in a notebook. It feels more inspired. That is not just a mindset trying to hold onto the past world in the form of a fuzzy “should” ― we “should” write on paper, it is “better” that way. No, its not that. I do like the atmosphere that gets created when I write in a notebook. But writing on the computer is so much more efficient. Less tiring for the hand too. And I anyway have to type stuff up ultimately.

Anyways, notebook or computer, for either of them I will have to get up from bed. But I want to rest a little while longer. Where did the AC remote go? I am feeling hungry. But I am not supposed to go to the breakfast table without having a bath. Ok what shall I write about?

I really want to write about that Quantum Thermodynamics article I read. But that will require quite a lot of mental energy and focus. Will I be able to sustain my mental energy to wrap up the writing into a coherent, easy-to-understand article? Why do you have to make such a big deal about every article? Write what comes naturally to you. But will my readers be interested in reading about Quantum Thermodynamics? But it is interesting! And it is important! Mighty darned important. Or should I continue with the fiction story? I have absolutely no clue where that story will go, or whether it even wants to be written. Is it ok that I present so many different, seemingly disparate stuff to my readers? Sometimes an emotional poem, sometimes about MS, unfinished extended book review of A Course In Miracles, suddenly out of the blue Artificial Intelligence, and now this fiction which desperately wants to convey a subtle feeling, a subtle truth, my deepest truth… Don’t they find it confusing, poor things, the readers? Is it ok for me to subject them to all this multifarious stuff only because I want to train my writer self? Isn’t there enough cacophony on the internet already?

Whatever! Fact is, I want to write. And I want to write right now! Not when I get out of the bed. And the present moment is all there is, so write of the. present. moment.

And so on a Saturday morning, the humble phone (not the least bit erudite in front of the notebook and the computer), and the humble tip-tapping thumb of the left hand, and this humble heart, wrote of that very Saturday morning.

How Tagore Bought Me Free Lunch In The Nilgiris

Just like Allahabad is the point of confluence of three rivers, (Ganga, Yamuna, and the chronically shy Saraswati), a small town in the Nilgiri mountain range is a confluence of three South Indian languages: Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada. This town, though officially in Tamil Nadu, is right at the border of both Kerala and Karnataka. I was told that all the three languages are understood here. I did not find anyone who seemed to understand Kannada however. Maybe Kannada is like the invisible Saraswati of this confluence — or maybe the Kannada I spoke was Kannada only to my ears.

I was holidaying at my friend Amla’s home who lives and works in this tiny town, Gudalur, right outside the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. Amla works for Wildlife Conservation Society that is involved with several projects and initiatives with the Forest Department. That day her boss called in the morning, asking for photographs of the “relocation project” she is handling, along with her standing in those photographs at the relocation site. He wanted the photographs that day itself. So we set out at the task.

This relocation project is meant to relocate not-so-wild humans (depending on perspective), the Wayanadan Chettis, from areas designated for our wild brethren — elephants, tigers, leopards and their prey galore. The elephants’ prey is just plants, so that is easy and peaceful (again, depending on perspective). The tigers and leopards are carnivores. So when a forest is a comfortable home for tigers and leopards, the umbrella species, it naturally becomes home for their grub too — a plethora of creatures — deer, sambhar, muscular gaurs, Malabar squirrels, peacocks and their laboring wives, (for I saw tons of peahens busy at the task of collecting food, but no peacocks), and many others.

The Wayanad Chettis do not particularly relish being eaten by tigers — so it is prudent that they vacate tiger land. In fact they asked the High Court to help them vacate, and Amla stepped in to do just that. These people have been living in these tiger reserves for the past thousand years or so, before the region was officially designated for tigers. However they don’t quite peacefully co-exist with the wild as the tribals of the region do. Sometimes they tend to aid poachers too. Also, when they need to get to the hospital, it proves to be distant and tricky for them.

One person’s work is another person’s holiday. Amla went to complete the assignment, I went with her holidaying. We drove, rather a kind gentleman Rajamani drove us, from Gudalur, past Ayyankolli, to the relocation site — the place where some of our not-so-wild brothers had been picked up and gently put down. If Gudalur is tiny, Ayyankolli is tinier. So then why am I mentioning it, you ask? Well my friend, Ayyankolli is the point of our story.

“I thought Tagore was the point of the story, and you haven’t even mentioned Tagore as yet, except in the title!”

Aah my friend, you observe and remember well. We shall get to Tagore too. In the hills the roads curve and bend. The tales of the hills must curve and bend too. As long as we don’t get car-sick, that is.

I did get car-sick though. The car stopped (I told you Rajamani is kind), and I threw up. We considered turning back. Maybe I was feeling a bit too relocated? But with the lunch out of my system, my baggage was lighter. I chose to continue on this free ride in the lap or greenery.

We reached the site. In a land I am told is mine (I did feel at home there), Amla spoke pleasantries and matters of import to those people getting used to their new homes, in tongues foreign to me. Amidst so much of natural greenery, this site had been thrashed bare of trees and modest lodgings of cement had taken sprout. It was not at all impressive to my cement weary city eyes. What this project is doing in tiger land is impressive however. After the project languished at the intent stage for 40 years, it is now in the process of giving about 700 acres to the tigers, and is making them a tad-bit safer from poaching.

I did the honors — I took a few photographs of the inwardly reluctant Amla at various points at the site, making sure the logo of Wildlife Conservation Society was visible on her official t-shirt. Then we were in the car again, heading back to Gudalur. It was 3 or 4 p.m. by then. My baggage that had been emptied by car-sickness, was no longer content being empty. Would we get some decent lunch to eat by the time we reached Gudalur? We were not sure. Was I willing to wait for another hour and a half? No.

So we stopped enroute, at a small canteen at Ayyankolli, for a basic South Indian saapad meal (except that they don’t call it saapad there).Tourists do not know about Ayyankolli I guess. Ayyankolli is not on any highway. Gudalur is bang on the Mysore-Ooty highway. However, both Ayyankolli and Gudalur are covered with coffee, tea, pepper plantations — and stealthy elephants who consider it their right to poke their curious trunks into the windows of sturdy homes built by humble humans, and consequently bring night into the room even on a bright day, by blocking the window with their enormous girth.

At the canteen, after we partook of rice, saambhar, sabzi (palyaa in the Kannada that was under hiding), buttermilk, omlette and sundry goodies on a pseudo banana leaf. Amla was conversing freely in Tamil with the canteen owner and it was clear that I was not understanding anything. Obviously I was not from near abouts. Upon his enquiring, Amla told him I am from Kolkata, Bengal. Soon, with the meal devoured, it was time to thank, pay and leave. It seemed like the owner was not taking the full payment for my meal. I thought it was because I had eaten such a wee bit of rice.

We sat in the car, and then Amla told me, “Your lunch was on the house. The owner said you are from the land of Tagore, so he wouldn’t take any payment for your meal. He loves the writings of Tagore and has read many works by him. He even named his daughters Urmila and Sharmila, from Tagore’s story Dui Bon (Two Sisters).”

He must have read Tagore via Tamil, Malyalam or English translations I conjectured. In a small town in the Nilgiris, there is a man on whom Tagore had left such an impact! As we drove back, to the peaceful night descending on Gudalur, I was filled with fresh admiration and respect, both for kobiguru and for literature in general.

Words travel far, in space and time. When birthed by a gentle yet strong heart, words nourish vast swaths of human hearts ― invisibly, as Saraswati is wont to do.

With Flourish, Judiciously

Dear Reader,

Coming soon, to the device already in your hands – my first book “11 Drops of Silence”.

This is the book cover. I will share more about the book as I go further along the self-publishing process.

11 Drops of Silence - book cover

I hope the silence that is our womb, the source of all words, continues to bring joy and nourishment to you. In that context, here is today’s post on fun, joy, reading and writing.

With love,

Vani


By teaching me to read and write my parents and school teachers have empowered me beyond measure.

To be able to connect to other thoughts beyond the limitations of space and time, to be able to share my thoughts beyond physical presence and time is such a tremendous power. A power to be used well – judiciously and with full flourish.

It matters what I read. The health of my mind matters. What I put into my mind impacts my mind and every mind on the planet. It impacts the whole.

It matters what I write, what thoughts and words I harbour, the thoughts and words I and put out. Thoughts and words travel far.

I must do both, read and write, with responsibility, while of course having fun with it all. Fun, joy is the purpose. Fun, joy is the means.

The Guide And The Demon

Write *because* you are depressed. Write precisely because self-confidence is romping in the deep dark negatives. Even if you have nothing to say, write because you want to feel connected to yourself, your guide…

There is a guide and companion in me who is a friend. He has never failed me. There is also a demon in me who loves to hold me in it’s grips and thrash me about like a rag doll. Somehow, writing makes me feel more tangibly in connection with my guide-companion-friend. Most other times the mind is busy waltzing with the demon.

He, my guide, is very quiet. He does not order. He does not rage. He does not get excited at dreams coming true and other sundry candies. He does not keep presenting a report card on how I am doing every few seconds. The way to learn from my guide is simply to sit with him. His peace and equanimity simply relaxes everything. And then the demon storms in again…

And so it goes.

And so I have written. Some x number of words. Is it worthy of you dear reader? Here, in the midst of cacophonous internet, cacophonous Facebook, and our cacophonous mind. Raw and half-baked that it is. Without any “10 easy ways to go from demon to guide” guide?

Maybe it is worthy. For I am not unique. This guide and demon saga is playing in at least one other fellow being I would wager. Millions you say? Well then, millions it is. Together, we might as well intersperse this saga with a few chuckles when we can. And the more we can keep coming back again and again to our guide, in whatever way works for us, the better it gets (maybe), or the more challenging it gets (maybe). Whatever it gets, at least for those moments it gives a sense of ease (sometimes), similar to, quite simply, drinking water.


Image source: A puja pandal from the Kolkata 2016 Durga Pujas

Riding on Amazing Technology

A piece of writing has to be about something. But why?

I and my wrist just like going for a trot on paper, riding on a pen.

Some like to have an array of shoes, some, an array of cars. I cherish the array of textures of pen moving on paper. My favorite being smooth, but not too smooth. Thick, but not too thick. With a hint of resistance from the paper that generates an interesting rustle.

Not just the Mars rover, and self-driving cars – there is amazing technology everywhere. The way the ink flows through the nib, just the correct amount. It is not all liquidy, yet it flows. It does not all just plop down like water from an upturned bucket. The way its drawn out in a steady controlled stream is not just amazing technology, it is miraculous. Just because this technology has been around for eons and is so easily available does not mean it is any less fabulous.

So also the ceiling fan, and my breathing, and water…

words are small pathways

Words are like small pathways.
They take you somewhere and then they themselves fade away, leaving you in the space of that feeling …

IMG_20160429_071754Words are like small pathways.
They take you somewhere and then they themselves fade away, leaving you in the space of that feeling …

then another thought comes by –
word it and its fructified
is it possible to stand
on the mat of just one word?
just one thought?

choose a word a thought a feeling
shining forever for you
make it your Alladin’s carpet
see where it will then take you

let stuff happen there below
you can make infinite space
your own country, your own land
ever in the lap of grace.

~ vani murarka

 

 

 

 

shining gateways into infinity

My appreciation for language and literature keeps increasing steadily, while I remain constantly aware of the insufficiency of words. Feelings and experiences are like continuous fields that fade …

My appreciation for language and literature keeps increasing steadily, while I remain constantly aware of the insufficiency of words. Feelings and experiences are like continuous fields that fade out into the horizon (tending to zero but never getting there), while words are discrete and very crude approximations of those feelings and experiences.

Yet, the particular arrangement of words, the finesse of the reader, and the particular configuration of time when she reads – all these together has a capability of taking the reader into a deep intimate garden of those feelings and its continuous field. Intimate with the person who wrote those words, intimate with the reader herself, intimate with our world in general, into a suspended realm of pure wordless experience that is totally independent of time.

As the appreciation for language and literature grows, even writing a business email starts feeling beautiful to me.

Each and every word is a shining gateway into infinity, worthy of loving focused attention. Attention not with furrowed brow, but attention as a mother may gently hold a baby in her arms, relaxed, with ease, knowing the baby is holy. Attention as one may listen to all that tree trunks tell us.