Placid Lake and the Tempest

Rainy day at East Coast Park

‘O placid lake, why do you lie so calm?’ asked the tempest.
‘Because I have lost the desire to dance.’
‘Oh, but you are missing out the beauty of the tumult. The life of passion. Wait, I shall show you!’
And saying that, the tempest threw a stone creating a million ripples in the lake.

The lake watched herself wave up and down and felt ecstasy passing through her very veins.
‘Hey, I had never felt like that before. The energy felt good and brought back some of my lost treasures back to the surface!’
‘Aha, now you can become the sea,’ said the tempest with a roar.
‘No, my dear, let me now give you some of my calm.’

‘But I am the hail, I am the storm. How can I be calm?’
With that, the ripples on the lake calmed down and she invited the tempest over her. With her moisture laden arms, she pacified the dry storm and grounded it.
‘Oh, that felt nice for me to rest a bit. I have always moved in whirlwinds,’ replied the tempest with a gleam in his eyes.

‘I am the lake with an ocean hidden in me and you are the storm with a calm at the center. Let’s embrace our cores and keep ourselves open to transcending our identities once in a while. Let’s love who we are.’
‘But we are one!’
‘Yes, we are!’


Poetry returns Home

written a poem after a long time-

You do not choose to read
or understand poetry; it chooses
whether you deserve it or not
It finds its cradle and coffin
It finds the heart that bleeds
And when it finds a home, it tears
open all the doors and windows;
try shutting down you might
but it enters from the crevices
like a whiff of lady of the night




Tretar 18, Making Choices

[This post is the eighteenth in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

Life shouldn’t be hard. And the hardest part is usually about making choices. Each moment, we are making a choice. For example, you are making a choice right now to read this article. Your choices this morning will determine how you feel rest of the day. You will decide which doors to open and which to keep shut.


Back in New York, once I made a choice to enroll for a class in ‘Animal Sketching’ at Museum of Natural History. When we entered the Museum at 7 pm after it was closed to the public, it seemed like a whole different world with silent animals glaring from behind the glass showcases. We sat there for an hour sketching whatever we wanted (see a sketch here). It was a long ride back home on those winter evenings. It made no sense for a software engineer to be taking this class except that I wanted to do it and I chose to do it.

Similarly, we decide who should be and should not be in our lives (well, apart from parents). Remember that you are in someone’s life because they choose to keep you. And that’s a golden rule. Earn your place in their life and keep them if they have earned a place in yours. Any other equation just doesn’t work in personal relationships. Love is nothing but a choice because there is no perfect human being. Anyone who loves anyone else is making a choice to make them special in their life. Someone who doesn’t value the choice you are making about them probably doesn’t deserve a place in yours and vice versa.

My favorite poet Gulzar has written an amazing song on choices and its my favorite song too. I recently happened to go to Mandu on an impromptu trip (again a choice that I’m glad I made outside my comfort zone) and the ruins there reminded me of this song.

Is mod se jaate hain
Kuchh sust qadam raste, kuchh tez qadam raahe
Patthar ki haveli ko, sheeshe ke gharoundo me
Tinkon ke nasheman tak is mod se jaate hain

[From this turn, diverge
few lazy lanes, few fast paced paths (talking about the choices in lifestyle)
to some stone castles, to some glass houses (talking about stability and fragility)
to some delicate nests]

Aandhi ki tarah udakar ik raah guzarati hai
Sharamaati hui koi qadamo se utarati hai
In reshami raaho me ik raah to vo hogi
Tum tak jo pahuchati hai is mod se jaati hai

[One lane passes like a whirlwind
one descends from the feet shyly
At least one path in these silky paths should be
the one that reaches you]

Ik dur se aati hai, paas aake palatti hai
Ik raah akeli si rukti hai na chalti hai
Ye sochke baithi hun, ik raah to vo hogi
Tum tak jo pahuchti hai is mod se jaate hain

[One comes from a distant, turns close by
one solitary lane neither moves nor stops
I am just thinking that there is one lane here
that will reach you, from this turn]

You cannot see in future and you can’t predict the results and yet all you can do is make a choice right now. Best meter for evaluating the goodness of a choice, in my experience, comes from the heart. If it urges you to do something, try it. You may not see the road right now but in hindsight that road will be the most glorious you could take.

@Oprah_World: Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.

P.S. For contextual exposition on this song, check out this old post – “What does ‘is mod se jaate hain’ mean?”


Tretar 13, Spirit doesn’t Retire

[This post is the thirteenth in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]


When I was gazing through the endless line of trees and kissing the wind blowing against my face, a feeling of immortality swept all over me. Suddenly, everything seemed too insignificant. Why do we worry? What do we stress about? Our ailing bodies make us cry and our worrying mind plays to our fears. Some of the things we fear are worse than anything that can or will ever happen but we spend our lives trying to avoid those worst case scenarios. We need to evolve our awareness – from the ephemeral bodies to a worrying mind to ultimately the enduring spirit. Tap that spirit for the spirit never retires. Worry later about leaving a legacy, first, just live.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.Mary Elizabeth Frye


Tretar 12, I came from the Wilderness

[This post is the twelfth in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

This picture is taken from a recent Safari in Bandhavgarh. I can never get tired of entering the jungle and seeing its untouched splendor. I can identify with what Carl Sandburg said. Hope you will like it.

Bandhavgarh spotted deer

There is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I pick things out of the wind and air … I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers … I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced … yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting … ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.Carl Sandburg