Clean Slate

Gautam was strolling alone in garden. It had just finished raining. So the ground was wet and breeze was pleasant. As a wave of that pleasant breeze passed, it unsettled the rain droplets settled on leafs. Most fell on the ground but many found their abode on Gautam’s face, shoulders and hair. He enjoyed it. He also said a quiet inner thanks to the creation for providing such an unbelievable lovely magic. Water, coming down from the sky! It made everything on the earth look bright, fresh and revitalized. Trees, grass, plants looked greener and flowers brighter. The air seemed clearer; to look through and to breathe in. It contained no dust. But yes it had the unmistakable smell of water meeting the earth. What do we call it? Yes, petrichor! Birds chirped and bees buzzed around. Another strong wave of breeze passed and a few leaves took off for the last part of their journey. They fell on him like showering of flower petals. He smiled and thanked the creation once again. He felt as though he was being honored by showering of leaves on him by an unknown entity. He felt that someone pre-planned it, that the shower will occur just when he is just under the tree… it had happened earlier too.

Wave of a thought entered in his mind. It was about a person, who had been very fond of him and of course the feelings were reciprocated by him. The thought played around in his mind. Gautam also played with it. Hundreds of related memories covered his mental space with a quick shower. He looked up at the sky. A cloud was passing by. He smiled and allowed the memory to pass by too. His mind was clean once again.

Yet another cloud appeared over him. It was the cloud of the work he did. He remembered the last time he got an untimely call from the office, he was worried. What now? He had wondered. What might have happened? So many worrying thoughts had darkened his mental horizon. Same phenomenon had been happening in current monsoon. A thick cloud cover darkens the horizon; but it hardly rains. He found a simile in it. He had allowed that call to make a darkening thought inside him. When you know the source of a problem, it vanishes and it did.

His mental sheet was spotlessly clear once again. He felt fresh and energetic; not really to break into a run; but into a smile with abandon.

‘Karma Happens’ my first paperback

This book is my collection of short stories, memoirs etc. I have been writing and blogging since 2006. So I had a fairly large collection. Out of 34 stories, at least 6 or 7 have Gautam as the protagonist. This Gautam does not mean the Gautam Buddha at all. But yes he has qualities of a calm person. He does not shout or gets angry or aggressive. In ‘Immortal Side of Life’, there are flashbacks supporting the story that’s running in the present. Story’s end happens with help of spirituality, particle physics and super natural drama. Ringing ears’ is about a person over thinking or even deep thinking.
‘In Myth of freedom’ I have analyzed lives of people and whether anyone is really free in various sense of the word. ‘Karma Happens’; the title story is most lengthy. It is like a regular pot boiler with all commercial elements for a hit film.
‘Hope what hope?’ is set in kind of future. It shows that life has become difficult on earth, due to various problems like Ozone layer, climate change etc. ‘24 hrs. love story’ is based on an incidence that did happen. In ‘Just Think’ I try to tell how badly we are treating this earth and nature generally.
‘Leopard in my dream’ is an interesting experiment that takes off from my own experience of getting bitten by a local dog and then how it merges into a very real sounding story that happens to be a flash-forward. In ‘Soothing night’ I have used emotions that are usually shown on urban populace. So I tried it in a village, a hut with a hole in the roof. ‘Enlightenment of the day’ is my take on a regular morning while I would leave for my Yoga class. On similar lines is ‘Power of letting go’.
‘Absence of presence’ is another one of my experiment. Entire court room scene is only through Gautam’s dialogues, while judge’s dialogues are absent but understood.
‘A mosaic of gloom’ is what I wrote when I had stopped writing after Mumbai terror attacks in late 2008. And then my niece told me if I can’t write then I should write about ‘why I can’t write! That worked.
‘Red eye effect’ is a mad idea. I let them take their own course and go where ever they want to go. My science and cinema background helped me with this short story. ‘That he’ and ‘Escape to death’ is also similar genre. It just flows like my mad thoughts.

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…