Future Steps in Present

I have been noticing that my present

Seems to be reducing its presence

As though a process of fading out

Of life in the present has started

Though an impossible situation

Fading out present!?

People, situations, conversations

Seem to be gradually getting distant

If not distant, exactly

Hazy and unclear; certainly

The things that were, right in front

Started moving towards unknown

As if a curtain is falling

Between me and them

Reducing visibility and hearing

I need to figure

Why does my sight get fogged

With color of brownish earth

And why do I hear the chirping birds

A large banyan tree appears

It’s beautiful shoots eagerly stretching down

As they look towards the ground

Hidden under numerous banyan shoots

Someone sits, quiet and aloof

Long hair, long beard, chest bare

Looking somewhere with a constant stare

With his eyes half shut

It was difficult to judge

The object in his vision

But he surely looked down

At bare earth or the ground

And then with a pleasant jolt

I discovered the source

Of that nagging brown layer;

In front of his relaxed constant stare

I was seeing what he saw there

I know, it is impossible; but it is here

Enlightenment of the day

‘Pum’, is the first note of wake up alarm in Gautam’s phone, then a silence of a few bars, then ‘pum pum’ and later melody with beats start; but there is no point overloading this space with this extra information. Of course there is a valid reason for this. Reason is that Gautam always manages to gently touch the ‘stop’ button soon after he hears first ‘pum’. Today was no exception. So, after ‘Pum’ at 5.47am Gautam stopped further details of the alarm. You know all that ‘pum pum’ and the melody with beats etc. Phone became quiet and in a few moments withdrew its exited bright good morning smile with a dark huff. Gautam was used to it. His phone always gets upset, if it is not given a decent hearing. But we are not here to discuss Gautam’s love hate relationship with his phone.

Gautam hadn’t slept well last night. There was no one in particular to be hanged for this. No, not getting deep sleep can be attributed to many points. But stupidly all that attribution happens only after he has not slept well. He starts to think of points like, over eating, too much activity before hitting the pillow, too much on his mind etc. Although he had tried to get relaxed when he realized his alertness was still with him, even though its time had long run out. Alertness and sleep have to take turns to be with Gautam. It is more or less like a smooth take over. At one time only one of them can be there.

But in spite of below average sleep Gautam was fine. His ‘yog’ class is at 6.15am. After stopping the alarm, he takes a few moments, just being there. Someone had told him NOT to dive into a new day straight away, but slide into it smoothly and gradually. It made sense to him. He twisted his spine this way and that and in 3 minutes he stood up. He easily fought off his unhappiness at being groggy.

At 6.05 he was walking briskly to Ary Samaj, which about .750 km away. Announcement of winter season has made the sun wake up late. So, exterior wasn’t too bright. His weak eye sight and the distance makes Arya Samaj building seems like a ghost. A faint yellow light in the center indicates some students have arrived.

Inside all the mats were in place. Gautam had to take his place on a mat right in front of the teacher at the center. Everyone avoids that place. It is so in the face of teacher.

“Good morning everyone. Please sit in ‘sukhasan, ardhapadmasan or padmasan. Keep your hands on your knees. Pull in your stomach slightly, throw back your shoulders slightly, keep your neck and shoulder muscles relaxed, gently close your eyes and passively watch your breath. Keep breathing normally. If any thoughts appear in your mind, gently ignore them and bring your attention back to your breath. Normal breathing and watching it passively… Now we will chant Om. Take a deep breath in, Oooooooooooooooooooaaaaaammm…”

After 7 chants teacher continues; this time a little softly: “Enjoy the peace and quiet you gained by chanting Om… and passively… watch your breath.”

From more than 10 years these words have remained unchanged; but Gautam doesn’t mind it. In any case Gautam feels rejuvenated after the class and walks back home briskly.

Gautam’s Enlightenment of the day: ‘You don’t have to be active and reactive for everything that you encounter. Watching it passively also has its own positive use.’

Looking pretty and at peace under any circumstances.

Infectious Goodness

I met my friend Gautam yesterday. Like me he too is very regular in his exercise regimen, especially the walks. His doctor has told him that at his age, one-hour walk everyday is a must. If he wants to go to a gym, do Yoga, learn karate or any other activity, it has to be ‘walk’+ that activity. During one such walk something strange happened with Gautam. He narrated to me the story next day.

Gautam had already completed his daily walk quota in the morning. He had come out again in the evening for a stroll in the park; maybe just to stay a little ahead in life. He was only half way down the track; he spotted a wad of money on the ground. He stopped right next to it, keeping his shoe near the neatly folded notes and looked down directly at it. Watching an awkwardly static person in the jogging park; other walkers too followed his look and also saw the money. Gautam looked up at some passing men engrossed in serious walking.

Gautam: does this belong to any of you? He stayed near the money. But it seemed that those people had already started breaking their carbohydrates into glucose and water. So, no one was in a mood to break the pace for little money that didn’t even belong to them. A tall man just nodded ‘no’ and walked off without slowing his pace. A dark lady in short hair said smilingly, ‘finders keepers’, not bothering to stop. Gautam picked up the money. Watchman from his cabin had also noticed this. Gautam walked to the watchman, showed him the money and told him, “I found it (pointing to the spot) there. Did any one inform you about their lost money?”
Watchman: “no (extending his hand to grab the notes); but I will keep an eye.”
Gautam: “wait, let me count it (he counted the money). It is 110 rupees. Keep it but if I cannot find the owner then I will take it from you before I leave. It is 110, ok?”
Watchman: “ok sir.” But just as Gautam was about to hand over the money to watchman, Gautam noticed a large bunch of women entering the garden. He stood at the edge of walking area and raised his hand with the money.

Gautam: “anyone lost this… any one?” Most ladies laughed and passed him by; but a thin woman with graying hair said, “you are giving so much of your time for someone else’s money. Everyone is not so nice.” Gautam: ‘

“that’s no problem; I will give it just a few minutes more.”
Thin woman with graying hair: “good luck to you” (she walked off laughing away).
Gautam: (trying his luck again) “hello any one dropped this right here, any one?”
Next was a group of four women, chatting loudly. Among them there was a fat lady in yellow suit, “Yes, it could be mine. I had a 50 rupee note with me when I was shopping.” She showed her empty handkerchief. So careless! Gautam thought.
Gautam: “you should have at least tied up the money in your handkerchief.”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “yes. I don’t know how it slipped.”
Gautam: (placing money in her hanky) “here, take this.”

Other women started complimenting him and smiling, as they always do. Gautam was hugely relieved; but by now he had lost precious five-minute walk. So he picked up speed thanking women for their complements. The women too continued walking for a while. Gautam paced faster in the next two rounds. That group of women was now sitting on a bench and chatting. So every two minutes Gautam passed them, he knew they were looking at him. He felt very uncomfortable.

Soon there was a surprising twist in the tale. A small made woman had walked to that group of four women and was talking to them. As Gautam passed again, group of women stopped him.
Fat woman in yellow suit: “actually the money belongs to this lady. She has come back all the way from her house trying to find it.”
Gautam: “so now you are giving it to her?”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “yes. I thought it was mine; but it is surely hers.”
Gautam: “but what about your fifty rupee note? Do you have it or is that lost too?”
Fat woman in yellow suit: “no, it is in my bag.”
Gautam: “sure? Otherwise tell me I will keep an eye on the ground for your money too.”
They all laugh aloud. Gautam coolly started his walks again. He was pleasantly surprised at what had happened.

Dark lady in short hair: “you can’t go on finding money in every trip.”
Gautam: “yes I know. But even if I do find more money, it will be a big headache to find it’s owner every time.”
Dark lady in short hair: (laughing) “true. I don’t think anyone thinks like you do.”
Gautam was moving away from her.
Gautam: “oh that’s no big deal. Bye.”
Dark lady in short hair, “bye.”

Gautam and Indriyavijay

Indriyavijay enters the ever open door of Gautam’s hut. Gautam is drinking green tea with a lot of concentration – like always. That kind of concentration comes easy to him. Indriyavijay takes a seat in front of him. Rays of soft morning sun are filtering from the window behind his head. He looks inside the tea cup, lifts it with both his hands. As the cup comes close to his face, the vapor from the cup brightens due to the shaft of sun. Waves of vapour take a few moments hang near Gautam’s face and as if unwillingly move away, then vanishing as they rise beyond his face and sun rays. Gautam sips tea with closed eyes and slowly replaces the cup at the same spot. His eyes followed the cup throughout, Indriyavijay noticed. He knows it is Gautam’s tea meditation. Gautam has this habit of turning any day-to-day activity into a meditation. All his meals, bath, walk or chopping wood looks like slow-motioned Tai Chi. After two sips Gautam looks up. Indriyavijay does not know if he is looking at him or his vision going through him. However, by now he knows Gautam too well.
Indriyavijay: Is something wrong, you are looking a little glum.

Gautam: What is glum?

Indriyavijay: (correcting himself) I mean perhaps a little quieter.

Gautam: Yes I am feeling quieter internally. Isn’t that good.

Indriyavijay: Yes… it is. (Deciding not to ask any more probing questions)

Gautam: you did come to ask me anything. You came to tell me something.

Indriyavijay: we are going to pick wood from forest. Are you coming?

Gautam: Actually my plans are to exercise my feet and legs, touch my toes few times, work on the strength of my fingers and palm and finally do some weight lifting.

Indriyavijay: oh, you have a busy schedule. So, we will carry on. We need wood for making tea and cooking dinner.

Gautam: (picking the cup) fine.

Indriyavijay bows and swiftly moves and starts calling out to others to join him. In a few moments a group of monks are seen collecting dried twigs from the ground. After sometime monks noticed Gautam too was collecting wood and was ahead of them.

A surprised Indriyavijay asked, ‘but you wanted to exercise!’

Gautam: (looking down) see that’s precisely what I am doing; walking, touching my toes, working on my fingers and palms and lifting gradually growing weight…

Essay by an 8 year old

Teacher had asked young Gautam to write an essay on something that is seen in the sky. She meant the sky itself, birds, airplanes, sun, moon, kites etc. Gautam had seen the moon previous evening in the garden. So, he chose to write about it.


I was in the garden. Big round moon was in the sky. It was yellow in color. Papa told me to run for some time. Moon was running with me. It was hiding behind trees. It was following me. It was looking at me. When I was running fast he was little behind. Then I waited. I played hide and seek with him. He is my best friend. He is always looking at me. I also want to look at him. I gave him a flying kiss. His color became dark yellow. He went behind a cloud. Don’t know why was he hiding there? He was not coming out. Then I went home.

Gautam’s research

It was 9 pm. The train was full. Gautam had been checking passenger tickets for nearly two hours. He is in charge of 4 non-AC-3 tier-sleeper compartments and now was at the fag end of the fourth one. No wonder he was tired. His face showed it, even through his beard.

“Ticket, ticket, excuse me, show your tickets please. Where are you going? Ok, here. What about you two? Fine here you go.”

He entered the last section of the compartment. Everyone gave their tickets but a young couple was sound asleep on the same berth. Woman’s one leg was on top of man’s stomach. “Excuse me”, he said rather softly. She had ‘mehdi’ on her hands. Newly married, he mumbled. He could not arrest a little smile escaping his face. Turning away, he switched the night lamp on. He took off his white uniform cap and shook up his mop of hair with his fingers. He felt relaxed. The waiter asked him if he will have dinner now. He nodded yes. He went into the toilet to relieve himself and wash his hands and face. 

Drying his face he looked at himself in the mirror. He wanted to be critical of what he saw, but couldn’t. He organized his hair, beard, shirt, tie… The sound of train changes so dramatically in the toilets. It becomes much sharper or what they say, ‘shrill’. The rhythm remains the same, obviously. It is a part of the same train and compartment. He always enjoyed noticing such changes. He felt it was like a research topic on ‘sound of train in its various parts’; toilets have the potty tube that is open to the railway track or ground. That creates a lot of difference to the sound here. He wondered how it will sound to the person, placed in a hammock tied under the compartment; close to the wheels… he felt it was going to be too noisy. His face showed discomfort due to this sadist thought. It was like a torturous Nazi idea… Someone was knocking at the door. Enough research. He came out. Waiter had kept his vegetarian food tray on his seat.

He sat down, opened the foil and looked at the food. So unappetizing! Same dry rotis, dal and same color gravy in the vegetable. He hesitated. Waiter was waiting.

“Any problem?”

“No, not with the food… But my stomach is not feeling too good.” It was the turn of waiter’s research faculty to wake up, ‘now I know what he was doing in the toilet for so long.’

“I will take it back.”

“Sorry, I think I will have a vegetable sandwich at Jalgaon with tea.” Waiter took the tray back and Gautam lay down with his overnight bag as the pillow. His hair was flying due to strong wind from the open window. Tuk, tuk… tuktuk, Tuk, tuk… tuktuk, Tuk, tuk… tuktuk…

He wondered if the swings for little babies also were as relaxing. Why does he like this sound and this sideways movement so much? Was he born in the train or brought up in trains? Could be. His father was a motor man… His father always wanted him to be a motor man too, follow his steps… Gautam wanted to be a painter. His father couldn’t understand him. He thought of him as weird! Finally with mother as a mediator, they settled for the job of the ticket checker. At least I don’t get black all over; and my lungs must be in much better shape than ‘baba’.

Train stopped at Jalgaon.

Waiter was talking to the sandwich man on the platform.

After 5 min, train started. Waiter jumped in.

Gautam had turned to his side, untangling the numerous knots of his life.