Friday, September 30, 2011

An advice ...

A dear friend wrote to me recently with an amazingly simple but profound advice...

'U got to find that level where you can laugh it off...
laugh at yourself for having expected the blind to lead you, the heartless to love you and the deaf to hear you!'

Why do we take ourselves so seriously that we can't laugh every event off?
There was a time when I was not so invested in myself (at least most of the time of any particular day). Growing up brought a lot more of information, a bit of knowledge and little wisdom. Nowadays I increasingly struggle to be less and less invested in my own ego, beliefs, ideas, learnings and my identity.

The latest experiment I'm doing is to remain mindful of the entire trail of ongoing thoughts and ruminations, and make two heaps of them with respect to time - past and future; have been or going to be.

Wow what a clutter I get!!!

Haiku ? :)

Will this be categorized even as pseudo-haiku ? ;)

Here comes climate change delegates
from those offices with no windows, keeping
summer, winter, spring, autumn- away.

or should it be like ..

windowless offices, keeping
spring-autumn away
send environment-delegates, annually.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumn of my life

Autumn red,
Bleeding color of destruction,
Before nature gets busy
In a new creation.
This autumn
A little more will shed,
Skin of memories- a little
Battered, a little faded.
No rusting chains cherished
I will drop the deadweight
Of desires & heartache.
Spread my branches,
Leap in madness.
Bonds no longer binding
Out of earth, I will pull my roots
And walk away.
This autumn
There will be lot more
Happening. Celebrate-
For me, I turn
a new Leaf.

Fuel to fire

There is an interesting metaphor in traditional Indian religio-philosophy ... 'offerings to the fire'. It can be literally true, or might mean offering the best within oneself, or all of oneself, to something higher... a higher aim, a loftier goal.

At this moment our world desperately needs dedicated one-focused work towards change for better. A kind of higher calling, for which a lot of us have to similarly become the fuel in the fire. The sentiment is that it needs super human abilities to balance diverse needs of family and larger society. Even within the demands of family and career I have seen some of my friends going crazy.

There also seems to be an archetype of lone-sage in Indian world view. It gives a lot of moral strength and community support. There is a general understanding that people are often corrupt in the service of their spouses and children. So, the few without them would more likely to be committed. Some where it must be true, because behind some of the best and revolutionary work in India, there are people who are alone, on the go, working tirelessly and without a family.

After all this rambling, which is somewhere related to what has been going on in my mind, here is the funny part... someone must have played joke by subscribing me to 'Two Mangoes', a south Indian dating site. I got mail in my university ID, can't believe people can be so stupid in their concern for me ;)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who are you?

I noticed some regular visitors from specific locations on this blog (which I have re-activated only a few day back). The feelings I had could be summed up in this quote:

Its so curious... one can resist tears and behave very well in the hardest hours of grief... but then ... someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer ... and everything collapses.

- Colette

(This made me write: there is a lot on these pages to know me. I would like to know you 'Dear Visitor'. Honestly it gets unnerving to have a one-sided-intimacy, so any friendly hello is most welcome. Just to re-assure you, I'm generally considered to be a very non-threatening, friendly person... and who knows, we might end up sharing common interests, or even go on to become the best of friends (it has really happened in the past once, although one of my smiling photograph was also there on the blog then ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Arrogance of the modernity...

Many people do not give a second thought to the fact that there were sustainable indigenous systems of health, education, employment etc which flourished for long in various countries before the advent of colonial rule. These might have some invaluable lessons for our current civilization ideologically torn over the same issues.

I'm reminded of Gandhi who said in 1931 at the Round Table Conference at Chatham House:

"I say without fear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root, and left the root like that, and the beautiful tree perished. The village schools were not good enough for the British administrator, so he came out with his program. Every school must have so much paraphernalia, building, and so forth. Well, there were no such schools at all. There are statistics left by a British administrator which show that, in places where they have carried out a survey, ancient schools have gone by the board, because there was no recognition for these schools, and the schools established after the European pattern were too expensive for the people, and therefore they could not possibly overtake the thing. I defy anybody to fulfill a program of compulsory primary education of these masses inside of a century. This very poor country of mine is ill-able to sustain such an expensive method of education. Our state would revive the old village schoolmaster and dot every village with a school both for boys and girls."


And yes.. how funny to notice, only as we age all those cliches start containing more than a grain of truth. Did their holding capacity increase over the years ;)

Musings on cognitive frameworks...

For our inner world it is so important to keep a respectful distance with every belief 'system'. The moment something is organized, something gets muddled up. This larger framework is something none can give us, and should not give us. It has to be experiential, no matter how true sounding a framework is. This is something each human has to do, for oneself- finally, ultimately.

At the maximum, one can be taught facts- history, geography etc (even about facts one should always leave a hairline of doubt, ... just in case), but for the larger framework the old cliche about experience stands true (almost).
One can only 'experience' the larger truths, but when they are put into words they get falsified ... mainly because of the limitations of our language. And I also think because of the limits of our current frameworks.
Isn't it a good democratic system where at least some aspect of one's life is left to oneself ... like living itself. None can do it for us.

Cognitive labeling helps in managing the information, but it takes away the richness inherent in any reality. How will we fare if we think of any issue like a garden, (of flowers or weeds... take your pick) and then see what all different flowers/ aspects emerge here.

Guess then multiple contradictory aspects won't get so distressing... but make a beautiful whole :)

instant connection

Read somewhere "Getting someone to like you is not hard. It is either easy or impossible."

This was a light bulb moment... so close to reality.
Many times its hard to please some people (guess that is why dogs are so popular as pets, they give you the gift of being pleased with you, no matter how stupid you may sound ;).

On the other hand, we too either dismiss someone instantly, or take a liking for a person immediately. There are fewer in-between connections.

One of the most important learning (which comes gradually) is that we need to be aware of this tendency and moderate it. That is when we start getting wiser...

Re-reading a lovely poem

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Alone again,
I will go on with bent head,
knowing all love has become eternal.
On the long, rough road,
the sun and the moon will continue to shine.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Traditional vs. liberated ideology can be the most devastating of the wars ever played, even when inside a home, within a couple's relationship, especially with some gender dynamics thrown into this ego-battle.

Rumi again

Have been in a little angry phase and Rumi comes to my rescue with an unconditionality ... and now I know I will cross this unpleasantness by tomorrow.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

About life & living

This is a quote I found on one on my old posts from a very famous book (Dibs in search of self) on child play therapy:

"Perhaps there is more understanding and beauty in life when the glaring sunlight is softened by the patterns of shadows. Perhaps there is more depth in a relationship that has weathered some storms. Experience that never disappoints or saddens or stirs up feeling is a bland experience with little challenge or variation in color.
Perhaps when we experience confidence and faith and hope that we see materialise before our eyes, this builds up within us a feeling of inner strength, courage and security...... We are all personalities that grow and develop as a result of all our experiences, relationships, thoughts and emotions. We are the sum total of all the parts that go into the making of life."

Ain't it beautiful? There are a couple of more quotes here

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Change agents...

Sometime back I had written how people would not like to label themselves as poor, how life at that level is multi-dimensional and how an 'outsider' simplistic perspective dehumanizes it all.

And here is an article suggesting similar gap in the "development's universalising discourse and those of people in the rest of the world who see things differently" (We are not poor).
(And then here is an interesting view on poverty as a career from a development economist).

Guess nobody likes being an object of inquiry in a detached manner, none would like to be the guinea pig on whom income generation projects are conducted in an impersonal manner. (as none would like to have uninvited therapist comments about their lives, although unconditional acceptance and regard is another matter).

Some of the successful community interventions about 'change for better' have 'relationship' as one of their most important change agent. Who wants an 'uninvested outsider' trying to change them without understanding how it is to live like 'one of them'.

And once someone is an insider, s/he will be evaluated and only then put on a pedestal as a leader... one has to have that quality within to rise up to the occasion. It is not for the cowards or opportunists.

I am fascinated by the change process going on in India, behind which there is a small group of committed people, who in turn is inspiring another larger group of people invested in the process. It has been heart warming for even the most objective people who had the tendency to sit on the fences and give ongoing commentaries about the status of affairs.

It feels good to be part of a generation awakening... seriously!

'Do no harm'... were you ever taught this?: Ethical poverty of poverty-professionals

It is another era, another century, still the dominant western discourse travels far and wide. Altruistic white dudes, paradoxically made of 'selfish genes' from a morally neutral world, still find ways to have some guilt-sans-religion (was it original sin in secular form?) about privilege and tour distant lands (some call it development tourism).

A cosmology of heroic 'battles with poverty' seems more attractive as well as morally superior, to the heroic adventures of finding new land or capturing them. While making great stories to tell back home.
All the time developing an underdeveloped world, paying loads of money from landladies to auto-wallas, to distant NGOs ... and in case this is non-sustainable and one gets broke monetary, one can always start entertaining the idea of making mobile-porn, to earn to serve. For sex is just a biological need and can even make social service sustainable, no moral hitches for exploiting lower rungs of Maslow's hierarchy, while we climb it higher. On some level everything is sold like that... after all people do buy it!
Guess, philanthropy always works in cycles, earning while creating some problems, spending while solving some other!

This is all well done with academic cultural sensitivity by reading the right books and attending the right trainings: keep away from ex-pats (but stay in its presiding deity's temple, till she throws you out for crossing some of her sacred rules :).
What else, wear local, take up local language class even if you sleep thru it all. Add some more like follow movies, cheer the local cricket team with others, and explore exotic food and women. And yes one has to come across humble - 'sweetness personified'. It is another matter, this happens while writing papers about amazingly irrelevant trials, building networks and CVs.

Women, well, following local rules of sleeping were not part of the course on how not to live and eat as neo-colonials. What can they do if not date here when here, though temporarily. Play by their own rules of the games, on unequal level, for who cares if others don't even know 'its all a game'. Not only treat others as objects for one's own need fulfillment, but wear 'caring' only till one is urged into dishonesty by another convenient & attractive option. And then show one's true colors- of icy coldness & calculated rudeness, by voices of common-sense dissent.

They say in a market economy one 'makes an exit/ leaves' a service provider when one is not satisfied. But with people we don't do that, we voices our concerns, we negotiate. Treating people like shops and restaurants is repulsive.

So, all in all, sometimes we have to come to terms with such hidden dark dimensions of people whom we collectively adore. World still shocks me into awakening by its horror stories...
(guess this is all about growing-up... delayed milestones ... retarded though!).

(Interestingly, my amazing lab of white & black mothers, loving & protective, are often so concerned that there should be no damage to the kid who entered their world, when she goes back to her own mom. So, I do wonder was it really about being 'white', or about being 'altruistic poverty professional', or about being an 'insensitive technocrat', or about being a 'dude' which is so damaging in 'another' world).

(some interesting stuff here and this is hilarious)

(PS: I acknowledge this post is a little mean, a little unfair... a little unlike me also, but what the hell, it was therapeutic, and subjectively true ;)