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super maha kumbh 2013!

17 Feb

i was at the maha kumbh people! exactly on mauni amavaasya (v.v.v.v.v.imp day to dip), i took dip right at the sangam spot:) means u shud ideally chase me down n rub ur head at my lotus feet. hehehe:)

ofcourse there is a story behind it all. a divine synthesis of scrupulous spontaneity.

a photographer friend and a marathon runner friend and i were to go initially to the kumbh together. photographer, cos it is paradise for people adept in clicking with those heavy expensive lens; the marathon runner cos walking a minimum of 25kms at the mela is a given; and i…well for no real reason. turned out that i was the only one who went after all! …all alone ( here i am not including the 3 crore people who came from all kinds of civilization)

so when i went to the kumbh, to my great relief i found that there is an art of living camp there. and believe u me, it was the prettiest, village themed camp. all the other baba and mata camps were wastefully flamboyant if the baba/mata was famous, and pathetically messed up if infamous. the entire 38km area was full of flimsy tents which wouldn’t keep u even slightly warm in the biting cold at night and will burn ur body in the harsh sun during the day. i, however, was housed in a cradle of comfort and affection at the prettiest cleanest aol camp:)Image

60yr old super dynamic roshni aunty who had come all the way from fiji island, and a nameless boy from pune joined me for the dip on d-day. we left at 8.30am in silence. (cos thats how it is to be done ideally, ‘mauni’ amavasya remember?) after 7kms, we reached sangam ka bank. there weren’t any boats plying earlier in the day but we got tremendously lucky and got a boat to the exact sangam spot for our dip! it was an exhilarating feeling and my eyes welled up. as i sat in the boat and turned my head, i saw oceans of people in all directions waiting for there super special chance. it was even more alleviating to realize how immaculately miscible the sangam is. so at any spot really, it’s perfect.

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when guruji was asked abt what the importance of the sangam snaan is, he said, our paap is so easy to wash away cos its simply like dirt on the surface of the body. so dipping in sangam is a prateek of that. meaning we are so pure within… no matter what. guruji added, ganga stands for knowledge, yamuna for love and when they meet, saraswati which is “gupt” ,manifests i.e. wisdom. epic explanation!

more than my legs which were giving way, it was more of a mind thing to get back to the camp after claustrophobically walking for total of 15kms to and fro.

the 3 of us, got back at 1.30pm. now, i had a train at 5pm. we were inside the kumbh area on the day of the biggest snaan, so not one vehicle is allowed to leave or enter the 38km zone. so i had to hurry to the station…WALKING. easily about another 15kms away. but i was no fierce bhakt like the 3 crore others whose avg. age was 60yrs., and had travelled in inhuman, adverse conditions to get here with tearing bags precariously balancing on their head supported by a frail yet committed body. i am a mumbai girl who goes to taj for dinner on her birthday. so i had to get a ride if i were to reach the station. i walked a km and hitch hiked with a local college boy who was super excited that i was of the opp. sex and from mumbai. double whammy. so we waded through the masses on his bike until he found me a cycle rickshaw. i knew he wud go to any extent to prove his machismo:) good for me! so this unknown guy who was clearly my knight in shining armor wrt kumbh, rode a good 10kms to get me out of that mad mad chakraview.

seriously. the kumbh seems like a place warped in time. i don’t know if it’s the tremendously high energy levels of the place because of the bhakts or something else..but one definitely gets a slight fear of being sucked into that energy forever. some alternate zone it is from where there is no way out literally and metaphorically, both!

nevertheless, when i got onto the rickshaw, my knight promptly asked for my ph.no and said he wud call me if he ever came to mumbai. 🙂 but i gave him a wrong number. still feel slightly bad abt it… i blessed him with all my heart though! …by now it was 4.30pm. the rickshaw guy was my grandpa’s age, if he were still around. i really had to keep a rock in my heart and keep telling him to ride a little faster while the world of people who were walking to the station were way faster than his rickety rickshaw!

luckily i got to allahabad station just in time. here i realized it dint matter whether i was before,on,or after time. nothing mattered actually. except saving dear life. cos i had entered the epicenter of a freaking concentration camp where i was sure to collapse out of lack of oxygen simply because all the people spread out in the 38km kumbh zone were now in one mini station. but i was determined to leave. so i invoked the jhansi in me and reached platform 10 where my train was supposed to be. there was no train yet. and for a while. there were people sitting even on the tracks.. and it was announced that u can get into any train if it goes to where u wish to go. with or without a ticket. in essence, they wanted us to just get lost. as fast as possible. are u at least getting a faint idea of the helpless breakdown of what i consider our fairly efficient rail duniya?

IMG_20130210_174445goes without saying, all trains were indefinitely delayed. cos they let every train fill to its brim before it left the station. now my e-ticket was wait listed at 5, so i technically was ticketless. but so were the other 20lakh people. i heard another train ready to leave for mumbai from platform 6. i fought for my life to climb up stairs from pt.10 to the bridge. i was very close to losing my right hand in the crowd cos my bag was stuck in the middle of a stampede. i reached the bridge half dead. turned left to walk to pt.6. but i got this sudden queer intuition that i shud go back to pt.10. it was strange cos i had a train waiting to leave for mumbai. still i immediately turned and walked back heeding to my inner voice which was starkly clear though the body it came from, was about to collapse. all the bsf and raf jawans i came across while i was clambering through hoards of people, told me to go back and stay in allahabad for the night if i cud, cos i was to travel alone. i did leave and i stayed with a new friend i made 2 days ago in the city. while her mum fed me hot rajma chawal at night, she watched in the news that pt.6 collapsed and 20 people died. it was more or less the same time that i was at the station.

that moment it was downright incontestable that throughout the odyssey of the maha kumbh, i was clandestinely taken care of at every inch i moved. an angel was assigned and it did its job exquisitely.

thanks angel.
thanks provider of angel.
i owe u one.
jai guru dev!

P.S: i went to kumbh the next day cos guruji was scheduled to come. spent super cute time with him. after 2 days, left kumbh in a car. felt uneasy. came back. missed flight. spent more time with guruji and managed to leave only in my 3rd attempt. believe u me, it was like this magnetic force which wanted to keep me there till the end of time. i am finally back to the wifi world. i m still figuring out if i am happy or sad~

Indonesia – one weird beautiful place!

25 Nov

before u mentally ask me if i went to bali, i shall answer. no. i will now, continue. there are 17,000 other islands in indonesia just fyi.
while in jakarta, i figured such interestingly strange things about indonesian culture and language.
for starters, in Bahasa, national bhasha of Indonesia, milk is called SUSU:) (imagine cold chocolate susu!), love is called CHINTA (now thats profound), and man is PRIYA (!!!)
If u want a super huge ego massage, among other varieties of reflexology; Indonesia is just the perfect destination, simply because 1Ruppee= 172 Rupaiyaa. so basically, i spent lakhs..daily! The currency notes make u want to pose like vijay mallya, well.. when he owned more than just the kingfisher calender.

Next revelation is particularly mental. so maked sure ur center of gravity is monumentally low so that toppling over wont be life-threatening. now, there are these express lanes in jakarta, use by the in-a-tearing-hurry office goers. on these lanes, the noble government has come up with a noble rule to save our noble planet from further pollution. Rule being, the vehicle has to hv 3 or more people in it, if the lane must be used. (pls note that the lane is worth using because it is blessed with traffic infinitesimally lesser than other lanes). now if u are drivign to work by urself, u need 2 more people in the car. here come the ‘JOCKEYs’. these are women with babies hugging their bosom, who line up just before the beginning of the express lane, waiting to get into ur car to make it a near round of figure of 3 humans. ofcourse, there are permutations and combinations possible. meaning..if its you and ur driver, a lady/man (jockey) will hop on minus baby…and u pay them 15000 Rupaiyaa (roughly Rs.90) for this courtesy! at the end of the express lane few kms away, they cross over, and earn another 15000. so their daily wages add up to One lakh Rupaiyyaa. dont trip. thats just abt Rs.500 a day. But that much for daily sitting in random AC cars albeit from dilapidated vans to porchés’. EPIC! Joke is- its super legal! cos the government just got noble-r. they think of it as a good employment opportunity for their citizens, while the prime motive can go take a walk. seriously. just think about it. the bacchaas there, have a unique choice of profession. beta, engineer?… Naah!… Doctor?… No way, i hate blood! … Investment banker?… too much work! Jockey? *woot woot*
This just reminded me another fun word. Dentist in their bhasha reads “Dokter GiGi” . LOL. cute!!
Let’s assume u go to an indonesian wedding. u know wat u are expected to traditionally gift? a floral display the size of a futsal table embellished with colorful flowers and a heart in the middle which says X weds Y. so outside the reception hall, all along the pavement of the road, will be lined up many a decorated futsal tables!
Finally, the most heart warming amazing info that provides fresh perspective.
It is nearly an oxymoron that 85% of Indonesians are Islamic and that the country is heavily inspired by Ramayana and Mahabharata. So much so that, many many Islamic women are named Shinta (SITA in Bahasa) and Dewi! They dress up they way they want to (read-super short skirts), and are super tolerant and pray 5 times a day. Über cool i think. and here we have Internet Hindus trending and Sagarika Ghosh in the wrong profession/country/both.
besides all these quirky facts, Jakarta to me is the bestest shopping destinations in the world. google “Bandung”- a result of which, i need a bunch of godrej cupboards.

10 places I saw before I died (…title courtesy “10 places to see before you die” :)) – PART 2

23 Nov

Disney land (the fake one in paris)
the place, as we all know or can easily imagine, is so magical that it can export you into a world painted with colors and no black 🙂
the carnival of disney characters every evening is like hanging out with illusionary superstars of our bachpan. one particular ride to look out for is “its a small world after all”. this one just fills ur heart up the brim so much so that it brings back the lost twinkle in the eyes of many a men. it involves a slow boat ride through a world of beautifully designed/crafted/arranged miniature dolls representing various countries on earth. when we approached the indian doll section, I gleamed with pride:) the cuteness quotient is soaring high with all the mini beings singing ‘its a small world after all’. the nicest way to make people realize this binding truth.
Best time to visit: when the flight tickets are cheap:)

Shimoga- “the divine place”
i was super curious to see the exact spot where guruji discovered sudarshan kriya that has and continues to touch and transform the lives of millions worldwide.
my buddy and i, were dropped off some 2kms from the exact spot and were asked to walk. frankly, i dint expect the place to be fancy or anything, and the path we were asked to take, seemed rather random and mildly put, ultra boring. so my expectations further took a giant negative leap. little did i know, that 100 footsteps later, my eyes would pop out at the desperate magnificent gorgeousness.:) an unexplainably beautiful river held our gaze, interspersed with lush green hills. the clouds up there were warming themselves with the tender rays of the sun. the landscape solidified something within. a small shiva temple right at the edge of a portion of the river, was where guruji had gone into silence for 10 days and got the sudarshan kriya! today, the spot is very appropriately named ‘the divine place’. just reestablished the truth that guruji only chooses the best; both, people and places:)
Best time to visit: righ now!:)

Florence: my mind was disintegrating and for the 1st time (and the only time) i had labelled myself ‘depressed’. this was on my family trip to europe where thomas cook boasted of taking us to the maximum countries in minimum time. this concept can only sell in india i tell u!
anyway, coming back to my depression. florence, one among those 97675894 countries that was covered, did wonders to my then-achy breaky heart. filled with art, ice cream and cycles; the dainty houses with its self engrossed inhabitants; bustling with activity with undertones of tranquillity, i am sure i belonged to this place some life times ago. i instantly felt at home, sorted.
Best time to visit: April-July, i like the weather ‘sunny side up’ u see;). if u are into snow (yuk!) then u could even go off during christmas.

10 places I saw before I died (…title courtesy “10 places to see before you die” :)) – PART 1

14 Nov

1. The International Art of Living Center, Bangalore!!
For all practical purposes (and extreme good luck!) this has been my heavenly abode for the past 2+ years.
This place is akin to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! No kidding!
Around here, the difference in energy levels is so palpable. And magic is so thick in the air 😉
Whenever I come back to ashram after a trip, I am hyper for atleast an hour.
I jump. I bite. I smile till my jaws hurt. I am so happy for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Best time to visit: New Year Celeb (a 2500 youth silence program called Winter Break)/ Chandi Homa day during Navratri/ Or whenever guruji is in ashram (cos the satsangs and the QnA sessions with him are simply EPIC!).

2. Kapu Light House
This quiet beach is some half hour by bus from Udupi, Karnataka.
Mostly virgin (if that’s a possibility:)) and supremely rocky, the view from the petite light house at Kapu is elevating. The view from the top consists of the orange sun and the magnanimous sea on one side and a never ending stretch of rock & sand beach bordered by palm/coconut trees on the other. Means you have no idea. 7-course meal for the soul! Infact if you stay on till little later in the evening, you can see the light house’s light rays rotating and attacking the deep blue sky much like a ghost movie:). By the way, even the walk to the beach through a pseudo village is pleasurable if you have less or hand-picked company.
Best time to visit: 4pm-5pm, on any not-so-hot-day.

3. Boat ride in the Ganga at Varanasi
Now at the cost of sounding very show-offy I confess that I have been to some real cool countries including Switzerland with its Lake Lucerne (holy shrine to all Bollywood romantic lake view songs) and Italy which houses Venice. Venice is allegedly the most romantic place in the history of all romantic places offering hot Italian singer as boatsman who rows you and your soul mate slowly around the place. They even have a specific bridge under which you are expected to exchange saliva:). But I say, once your done playing with the little ones, then you come to their mommy! Voila! A boat ride in the ganga at varanasi. Oh my lord! The personality of ganga in varanasi is serene and poised as opposed to her ferocity and flamboyance when she’s housed in haridwar-rishikesh. and here’s an interesting ‘did-u-know’- though the ganga flows from north to south; in varanasi alone, her direction changes and she flows northwards!
It was a near full moon, a day before guru poornima, 7ish in the evening, and we sailed from assi ghat to dhasashwamedh ghat where the evening aarthi is a sight to behold. while the boatsman gently rowed, i saw families performing the last rights of their loved ones on one of the ghats; and in another, people lighting diyas and letting it go in the ganga perhaps with a secret wish in their heart. Background score to the enchanting surroundings was provided by this co-sailor singing melodies on his guitar. i thought to myself, this is how god must be watching the show…the colorful little game we call life.
Best time to visit: full moon nights, 6pm onwards.

6.30pm

6.40pm

7pm

..to be contd.

and some final noticing..

15 Jul

RISHIKESH:
-i was proved wrong wrt 2nd last point in rishikesh in the last post. cos just before packing up, we attended a bhagavatham katha by a swami. for half hour, i cried tears of awe and gratitude, as each line he spoke pierced my heart. each line was like a refresh button cleaning my slate and rendering me pristine. like a goose bumps’ device. also it was the day i had turned teacher 3yrs ago. seemed like the bhagvatham session was guruji’s way of gifting me something super special.
-swami swatantranadji’s (guruji’s ardent fan) satsang starts with jai jai radha raman hari bol. funny;)

HARIDWAR:
-hoshiyar puri wala’s paneer parantha+lassi=power of ganga (minus the uric acid in all its forms, whisked in it)
-hoshiyar puri wala rocks.
-ayi hai!! yumm hoshiyar puri wala mannnn!!
-i want to marry hoshiyar puri wala and become hoshiyar puri wali!! brilliance. lassi!! ohho! *drool*

TRAIN FROM HARIDWAR TO VARANASI:
-sat in waiting area in station 1st time ever. violet-sari-clad-care-taker aunty did life story process with me. 4 kids, dead husband, expressionless face. i suggested remarriage. to this, she gave me some tips on living. one of which was “u can be with 10 men, but if you are not happy, then it is not going to help”. ok boss! if u say so! just an after thought lady..how do u know? naughty, naughty!;)
-all bihari men and women speak loud n clear with the exact same accent as laalu prasad yadav! i thought he was over doing it. but he’s being utterly natural!

VARANASI:
-varanasi weather is only fit for jaadu of koi mil gaya who is powered by heat rays. others need to install a/c in their chest region.
-guruji’s grand parents prayed before the birth of guruji’s mother at the vishalakshi temple here. hence her name. so the secret to getting to meet guruji anytime is by telling the lah-di-dah security/secretaries “banaras ke vishalakshi temple ka prasad layen hai”. its been tried and tested several times, sources say. *shhhh & high five;)*
-the high trebled,soaringly high decibel wale car horns sent chills down my spine. they were redudantly bajaoed every 3 seconds.
-the gems that are collected by guruji and polished exotically by rajesh jagasia. some of them i got to spend short but quality time with; hemant, himanshu, rishi, amod, madhav. they were like little gurujis who made our time in banaras magical.
-moon lit, row boat during sunset in ganga along the ghats, with a guitar is 108% more romantic than venice. (i have been to venice in physical form, i mean over and above travel and living)

GARIBRATH FROM VARANASI TO DELHI:
-garib rath is truly garib with dead rat aroma and 17 inch wide bed.
-bihar kid boy ran around calling out his sister “dhanno” effortlessly in sholay fashion.

FOOT NOTE:
I had the choicest of travel companions in kulpreet and anjali. their palpable love and infinite tolerance was so precious. small things, like the way they uttered ‘didi’, just the lovelorn texture to that was so endearing.. some relationships go beyond labels. i guess the 3 of us just wove something to that effect, around each other, through what we playfully called our crazy beautiful “navratri” trip! FYI: total trip cost= Rs.6500/-
On hindsight, i just became conscious of the fact that; my mind, heart and words was filled with guruji to the brim, all of 9 days, through and through.
Precious, precious times these.
Jai guru dev!
Happy gurupoornima!!

my fattee buddies-Part 6

17 Jun

this is a heartfelt ode to avinash tiku; an extremely dear buddy, a citizen who makes india proud, and to top it all, a humble shishya to a phenomena- his holiness sri sri ravi shankar; our guru! *same pinch*

it is such an honour to share the same breathing space as him. i have mostly been inspired by the body of work done by people nearly double my age, eg. bawa, dinesh dada, kashi bhaiyya, vikram hazra, rishi nityapragya, vishwas bhaiyya among other art of living greats. (my fingers will be secretly chopped for the ‘age’ part of the comment;)).

i have been easily convincing myself of my ok-like performance in the path by comparing myself with such people. this is because i have been safely blaming it on the fact that unlike me, they have been nearly brought up by guruji who is like a godfather showering immense physical time and affection on them from time immemorial.

each having done some 50+ advance courses (lot of it conducted by guruji himself), they are among those who have gotten to spend countless satsangs in sumeru with just 20 other people ( i am told guruji danced everyday!) , in times where guruji cooked and served them food frequently, where the videos we watch on ashtavakra geeta were shot with them listening to it like a story telling session, when he told them that there will be a huge cake shaped structure (today our vishalakshi mandap) and it will be full of people on day 1 and the listeners thought he was imagining wild, where they massaged guruji while they put him to sleep… basically providing enough and more reasons for me and you to burn in a green ocean of jealousy.

but how do u explain this guy, mister avinash tiku, who is very much my age, and has gotten the same exact training, love, guidance from the above mentioned greats as much as i have, and gets to experience guruji in satsangs of thousands just like me, waits for hours and hours just like i do, to catch a glimpse of guruji who waves, blinks and smilingly cruises past in approx. 3 seconds;

yet this genius of a boy, brings about crazy obscene levels of transformation in the lives of many! many indians (mostly north indians;) and specifically kattar punjabis;) and now he has gone international and been a role model for youth in bulgaria, europe. 9 YES!+ courses, the last one of 60 people organized in 4 days, a dance and yoga festival of 900 youth, daily group sadhana and guru pooja with 20, 50 to come for navaratri in india and 100 to berlin’s world culture festival, and to top it there were 30 of them wailing like babies when he left the airport there to come back to india- all this in a matter of 3 months. i know numbers don’t matter to the guru and so shouldn’t matter to me; however these numbers only elevate!

when i talk to him, it is beyond competition, it is reverence!
he fills my heart with a purpose.
he fills the rest of me with a zeal to serve as much as i can, as soon as possible.
all this just goes on to prove that finding hooks is the sign of a crook;)
so today, i formally, publicly kill the crook in me and safely assume that i am as equipped and blessed as the older lot.
i feel so proud that i get to continue watering the seeds they have sown so gracefully to spread India’s rich spiritual knowledge with first, indians-in-the-blind and then of course to our world citizens!
i have said this before and will say it again; if each of the shishyas are so inspirational, god knows what the guru is made up of!

avinash paaji, tumne tho hamaara dil bhar diya aur aankhen khol di!
tum purush hi nahi.. maha purush ho, maha purush! ;);)
you are a gift to this planet buddy.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T

ANT.

14 May

i have been fascinated by ants since childhood. i dont know if u had more worthwhile things to do back in the days when u were a 5 yr old, but i spent quality time following the trail of ants in houses/ pavements/ walls/ terraces. how beautifully they kissed and greeted each other while they moved in opposite directions along a line. not an ant was missed in this greeting process.

often, i invited the black brethren to climb over my hand and enjoyed them scoot enthusiastically all over. the slight ting-a-ling that my skin felt was pleasing. after many years of ignoring these tiny living beings, yesterday to my surprise i saw a black ant scurring over my fingers. as if in some majoy hurry to achieve something. it fell off a few times. but each time i would gently guide it onto my hand and let it get back to urgently running that secret errand. this went on for a few minutes.

abruptly, my mind concocted a metaphor. (statutory warning: from here on, this post gets a touch too insightful and heavy, so if u wish to skip the rest and jump to the cute joke in the end, i seriously wont take offence.)

so, this whole scene seemed like we are akin to the ants for a guru (here: hand). we seem to be so involved in acquiring things whether material or spiritual while the guru watches the show, thoroughly amused! “what are they really upto!” must be the only thought that must go on in a guru’s head watching us all so anesthetized in living it up, so to speak.

and once in a while, when we fall; knowing fully well that it is all a game, he gently picks us up and lets us carry on with what we think is supremely important. he can simply choose to crush us when he feels like.. to free us from this illusion but he lets us be and participate in it fully; incessantly keeping a loving, watchful eye on us.

the ants world, though seems tiring, also seems futile to us because we can see the larger picture. perhaps, our life is no less tiring and/or futile than an ants’ in the realm of this vast consciousness.

this knowledge that we constitute- smaller than the smallest (w.r.t the consciousness) makes me realise the futility of the gamut of emotions i am driven by, and; this truth that we simultaneously embody- bigger than the biggest (w.r.t the ant) makes me feel responsible for my actions and powerful enough to make a difference.

the cutest ant joke ever:

Q. How to kill an ant?
(asked in exam for 5 marks)

Ans. Student:- mix chilli powder with sugar & keep it outside the ant hill.
after eating it, ant will search for water. when it reaches near the water tank, push ant into it.
now ant will go to dry itself near the fire. when it reaches near the fire, put a bomb in to the fire.
then you admit the wounded ant in ICU. in the ICU remove oxygen mask from its mouth & kill the ant.

😉 😉 😉

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