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

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.”

Not Dead Yet

Gautam thinks something is different since morning. He is mentally checking for the changes around his chest, but inside. And also a little higher around his head, around brain, he wondered. What must be happening around these two areas? Brain is an organ, he mentally argued; but mind is not. It is a soft-ware issue. Here he hit a wall called, ‘loss of clarity’. He was still in his hut and these strange blissful feelings had filled inside him in the hut.

He decided, no, nothing has changed in the outside world, but in him… inside him.

All those regular ideas, thoughts, disturbances… that stayed in his mind and played games in the brain, had disappeared… or so it seems. Gone away for a short while? This could be temporary. But how was Gautam to know that? All kinds of regular clutter, idle chatter, repeats, anxieties and distresses seem to have vanished. His mental space seemed to be glittering and spotlessly clean. His mind was feeling light, as if ready to fly. Brain seems to be idling quietly. Not revved up like it did, till yesterday.

Gautam found himself to be very unusually calm. He had woken up after an amazingly peaceful sleep. He felt no sign of laziness. He had never experienced this state of his mind; where he is not happy; but is blissful. His face has no smile, but his being seems to have blossomed. How a bloomed flower doesn’t smile; but its entire body seems to be smiling.

Something like that was happening to him. He stepped out of his hut. Many leafs fell on him. Whenever that happens, he always looks up and thanks the tree. A little ahead the yellow flower tree had shed numerous flowers. May be it happens every day; but Gautam felt that day it was done especially and purposefully for him. Birds in the sky seemed more noisy, perky and cheerful. The deer, rabbits and foxes had made a group and were huddled together. Small birds were perched on the lowest branches of the trees and seemed to be watching Gautam walk past.

He felt a strange lightness in his feet, in his walk. His body did not seem to exert to move ahead… very unusual. This can’t be heaven… He clearly remembers he hadn’t died… at least not as yet.

Photo for representation only

Sea, it’s easy for you

Gautam was up at 5.30 and in a relaxed hurry he got ready. He changed into his walking attire, wore his sports shoes, a watch and a belt pouch with his specks, phone and house keys. He stepped out sharp at 6 am. It was quite bright. Slowly he moved as per his plan to walk along sea side road to Yari road and then turn around to return. Last time he remembered it took him 50 min. He thinks that’s a fair amount to cover in a day.

He normally does road walks early mornings. Because the traffic is scant. So roads are comparatively less dangerous. It is also less noisy. As he reached near the first turn to the sea on Versova beach, he decided to take a look if there was space to walk on the sand. If the tide is high then one cannot walk there. But the tide was receding. So a large stretch of sand though very wet; was available. He decided it was a better bet to walk here than road.

He tested the sand. The beach was tilted badly. So his feet were very unbalanced, left up and right way down. But he found it better as he moved towards the water line.

Gautam picked up pace after examining the beach till the end. It seemed about 750 meters. One round trip makes it 1.5 km. There were very few people. One young guy sitting cross legged was chanting Aum in various pitches. Other sounds that he heard were of sea gulls, crows and waves.

Waves! He remembered his last meeting with the sea about a month back. He had a conversation with it. Gautam basically does not need anything for himself, as he is totally self-content… And that’s the kind of general perception. Everyone knows that. But he had another responsibility on him and he was not sure if he can handle it by himself.

He started his talk to the sea; “last time I told you that I have met someone very important. She is from the ancient times, when the world was very different…”

He heard a roar of waves.

“Yes, now I have taken this as my life’s sole purpose that…”

Big roar again.

See now I have told you in so many words… You are so strong… You cover and control most of the earth… You can easily help us… I am also in conversation with trees and wind.

Large wave splashed on the beach.

Okay okay. So I take it as we have a deal. I don’t want to see her upset ever again… That I know, but Gautam is just another name for someone who roamed around here. He listened to the waves of your teachings intently and tried his best to figure out what each of those waves meant.

Who me? No, I will be okay. I really wouldn’t consider myself to be one of the greatest souls you met in your life time. So you don’t have to keep any thing for me. This pretty shell will do.


MV PAVIT is the second ship to get stuck at Mumbai’s popular Juhu beach. A large ship bang on the beach makes a very weird sight. It attracts many eye-balls. But it can be a tremendous security hazard too. A large ship moves aimlessly in India waters, without being noticed by coast guard or Indian Navy and lands directly in the financial capital of the country! There is something seriously wrong. Previous ship MV Wisdom was aground vertical to the beach. So its propeller and rudders were in water which helped tugs to pull it away. But PAVIT is parallel to the beach and its propeller and rudders are stuck deep in sand! This one is not going anywhere for a long long time… on August 14 another salvage operation was started and successfully ended on 15 August. The ship was floated away into the high seas and sailed off to Alang port in Gujarat.