August 29, 2002

overheard today on one of

overheard today on one of the bbc wildlife programmes — “extreme conditions have extreme survivors.” (also… psst! dear monk-best-friend, congratulations on your engagement! 🙂

my conversations with earth

some of my most memorable moments during my vipassana course, were the post-lunch breaks…and of course, the almost 13 different varieties of soothing herbal teas (which i plan to write about soon too)…


it’s amazing to realise how much your mind chatters even when there is no communication with the outside world. you suddenly discover hidden joys in little things, secrets you smile to yourself about, and a smug feeling about the love inside you, that you so much want to share. and then there are also moments when you discover the little mischief monger in your mind.

despite a tight schedule, most of us would try and sneak in whatever exercise we could provide our limbs during the breaks, by simply walking around the areas marked for us. post-lunch, which i always ensured it did not last for over 20 minutes, almost everyday, i walked to the vast green space in front of the women’s residential quarters.

there, i would take off my sandals, roll up my trousers, and sink my naked feet into the lush green ankle-length grass, which seemed to nod its heads under the weight of single dew-drops glistening in the light of the 11:30 am sun. lifting my foot, i’d glide my feet over the soft green blades, letting them tickle me gently, and then put it down on the warm earth again. walking slowly, alive and aware of every silent sensation it created, rustling the grass all over, my feet were drenched to the bone from the all the dew they had stolen…

gradually my co-meditators would return from their lunch too. one interesting observation: some of them followed, taking off their slippers and walking, enticed by the green like i was. others saw the sun shining above, promptly rushed in to get their mats or coats, spread them out on the grass quickly, rolled up or even took off their shirts, and began to sun-bathe. the ones that walked on the grass barefeet were the indians among us; the rest who prefered to lie down on the grass were europeans.

two cultures
one ground
one sky
one feeling

a noiseless twenty minutes later, i walked back to my room. stretching myself on the bed, i smiled to myself and closed my eyes… content with the thought that i had deprived everyone of the pleasure of having discovered some of life’s deepest secrets from the dew-tipped grass 🙂

August 28, 2002

i’ll never forget how i

i’ll never forget how i used to wait all week for my favourite heidi cartoon on tv back home. this weekend, i’m off to visit her home…switzerland!

August 27, 2002

maturity is a myth. how

maturity is a myth. how mature you are, depends on how you handle a situation that you are in.

why we need a ten-day reality retreat

happiness is a colourful little bubble, and right now i’m in it 🙂

the thought occurred to me umpteen times even as my feet carried me unwillingly through the two hour-four-train-journey from hemel hempstead in hertfordshire, to burgess hill in west sussex. even as i flipped my ticket between my fingers while waiting for my trains, wondering whether i should turn back, and noticed the ‘return ticket’ punched on it accidently…i could turn back!

i was probably enjoying one of the happiest times of my life — married only for nine months; hardly two weeks in a new home, and a just week away from my first job abroad…why then did i sign up for a serious course that would keep me away from my loving husband not for one or two, but ten full days, and make me work hard from 4:30 am to 9:00 pm every day?

it was too late to reconsider. i had reached my destination and a room was allotted to me. fighting against all the big NOs running in my head, i decided to stay. today, eleven days later, i’m glad i did.

August 13, 2002

i’m leaving for a ten-day

i’m leaving for a ten-day vipassana course *(though i know my parents don’t fully approve). see you all soon, and be good while i’m gone 😉 thanks praveen, for letting me go 😡 *update: just approved 🙂

August 11, 2002

deepu, i bought raakhis for

deepu, i bought raakhis for our cousins yesterday. i guess this is the first time we’ve not had to buy them as a pair, as we do each year. i missed you di :’-(

August 9, 2002

i was missing gayatri so

i was missing gayatri so much today i called her up and stole an umma from her. then i undid the band that bound the bead-curtain, and giggled to myself as they clattered aloud, happy to be free. it’s true…the joys of life are in the living 🙂

vanishing children: london’s anathema

“you will blow this whistle when you are lost. and you will do it loud and clear so i can hear you and come to find you. do you understand that?”

at the hemel hempstead station waiting for my silverlink train to london-euston, i couldn’t help overhearing a mother repeat these instructions to her daughter and older son, as the father watched quietly. hours later the same the evening, as i walked back home, a girl in her late teens, three studs on her brow, approached me.

“do you have a pound on you that you can spare?” she asked. holding her hand was another little girl of about four or five, a rag-doll clutched to her chest. the two girls did not seem to be poor at all…both wearing bright jeans studded with little stones, while the little one wore a pink striped t-shirt and a red skirt. “i need to get her home to her sister”, the girl continued, pointing to the little one, “and i have run out of change for the bus.”

my instant reaction was to give her a pound, but as i searched about in my handbag for loose change, i wondered if she was telling the truth, and then i wondered why she would be lying. i noticed another man around us now…bearded, stout and scruffy looking, he almost looked like an egyptian crook, and i remembered seeing him watch the girls from a distance just minutes before the girl stopped me. when the man saw that he had been spotted, he walked past us at the footpath where we were standing, and stopped by a bend in the road just a few yards away. had he not turned back to look, i would have put away the doubt lurking in my mind, that somehow he was connected with the girls.

hemel is a small old town, with ducks and swans that laze around in the water gardens surrounding the town, shops that shut early for the day and buses that don’t ply after five in the evening. it was for that reason that i was walking home and so, i asked the girl if she would find a bus at that hour, and where she was going. she said she would and added “why don’t you take out all the money that is inside your purse so we can see if you can add up the change for me.”

that did it. something inside me said not to trust this girl, or the man (who was still waiting there), and i showed her the 15 pence that i (deliberately) managed to find. i lied to her that i had just used my change for the bus myself and so i cannot find any. “can i keep that then?” she asked sweetly, looking at the 15p in my hand. yes you can, i said, and dropped it in hers.

three years ago at commercial street in bangalore, i was faced with a similar situation. i was looking for a little bell-string and stopped at a bedspread store to see the intricate designs the storekeeper had. amid the moving crowds outside, i saw a woman looking at me across the narrow road. she had a kind face but she looked like she was lost. when i came out of the shop, she came to me and smiled, asking if i could understand kannada, the language spoken in karnataka.

“yaenn aaitu?” (what happened?) i smiled back and asked. somewhat relieved, she hurriedly narrated that she lived very far, and that she’d forgotten her wallet at home when she went to drop her kids at school. she had tried to walk back all the way but it was getting late and in two hours her kids would be waiting for her at school. finally she stammered what she really wanted, and i could see the moist humiliation in her eyes when she blurted out “10 rupees kodteeya?” (will you give me 10 rupees?)

i knew she was telling the truth, and not wanting to make her feel any more bad for the money she had to ask from a total stranger, i nodded yes.

no. i finally told myself as i walked away from the girls…i wasn’t feeling guilty for not having helped this european girl today. she wasn’t telling the truth. was the little girl accompanying her really her sister? i will never be able to find out.

it saddened me to think of what they must have been up to. i wondered if they were in some kind of trouble, and if i had made it worse by not giving them any money.

the pied piper is not dead.

what is it about the children in this country that some of them just disappear? we hear of teenage children missing, abducted or raped almost once every two weeks, and these are just the reports that have reached the bbc. the disappearance of 13-year-old milly, or amanda dowler in march this year perhaps was the rare case that received a lot of media attention…and it helped. even though she’s not been traced yet, her pictures still haunt in the form of posters everywhere, reminding every parent to take care. even so, the missing-children files in the uk is only increasing. the most recent one being the double disappearance of two ten-year-old friends — jessica and holly.

“if they haven’t done nothing bad, they are not wrong are they?” said a visibly shaky classmate of two girls over the evening news today. it really is heartbreaking. apparently the school had warned children and their parents just two months earlier, that a suspicious-looking couple had been lurking around the school grounds, and to be extra careful.

i suddenly recollected seeing a similar couple stand behind a bush outside the moss hall nursery school that i come across on my way back from office. i was curious why the duo were hiding behind a cluster of creepers to watch tiny children play football in the mud. then i had thought perhaps they were parents of a certain child and were simply watching him/her play. i shuddered to think if they were the same suspicious-looking couple the newsreader was talking about.

how would children be able to know the difference between a ‘good’ person and a ‘bad’ one i thought, if grown-ups themselves could not. little wonder then that the soft toys children normally carry around, are being replaced by shrill whistles.

the next afternoon, as part of my training projects at my new workplace, i had been laying out the story of the pied piper of hamelin for children in the hindi language. i secretly wished he were still alive and had moved to london. and that he would play a ‘reverse’ tune that would bring all the missing children back.

August 6, 2002

i watched a breezy little

i watched a breezy little leaf race past a solitary me last evening. it made me wonder about entelechy…because this journal actually just got me a job!