Aahang – The Book

Hi,

Hope you have enjoyed my blog posts for all these years.

You can now order Aahang – The book on Amazon India. Its a collection of short stories from around the world and India which were first published on this blog.

Aahang – A Dozen Stories from Here, There, Now and Then https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07DK91C9Z/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_81rlBbCFQCJKB

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What to do in Meditation :-)

Last Friday I was having the customary drink at the bar with a friend who wanted to discuss his start up idea with me. It’s like a game we play may be once a few months. He gets his ideas and I get mine and we create companies  and close them as drinks keep pouring in. By the time we are done a UBER or an Air BNB or a Spotify has breathed it’s last 😊

At some point in the discussion my friend told me that he has this rush of ideas and emotions all the time. The urge to do something, to make something happen and when he is not “doing” something he feels restless. Almost like he is wasting his time or He is not getting anywhere in life. Intuitively, I said – You should meditate. To this he asked a question which I thought was amusing but coming from someone who is totally un initiated it was a genuine enquiry. He asked me”What do you do in Meditation?”. I was so tempted to tell him that it’s meditation not medication that you have to pop a pill and things will be all right. But I restrained my thought and told him:

” Well, you do nothing”

“But how can you do nothing !”

I was in no mood to drag the discussion on a serious subject like this after 2 glasses of Jacob’s Creek inside me. So I just said “You need to practice. I will tell you how.” We let the discussion end there.

Today morning while practising Zazen at Cubbon Park something remarkable happened. Sitting gently and quietly on a bench I could see a number of people of all shapes,forms and sizes walk past me. Once I finished the session I decided to make a small two minute video of what I had been observing. I think it will make it very easy for me to explain to my friend what one should Do in Meditation.

Most people think that meditation is all about closing your eyes and relaxing. But that is exactly what it is not ! When introduced to the technique by many teachers who themselves have little idea the immediate reaction of someone trying to meditate the first time is – Wow it was so relaxing. Of course, it was relaxing because you were dozing off :-)and the effect is the same as a power nap. The real meditation which is Concentration Meditation where you focus on an imagery for long periods in time is actually quite exhausting. Also, the constant fight to remove thoughts from barging in so you can achieve a thoughtless state can be quite challenging. Although, that is the wrong way to approach the practice. So what exactly should a beginner do ? The answer is just sit and observe what is happening around you. Now watch this video as if you were watching your thoughts. Imagine each passer by to be a thought. Let’s start :

  1. A group of thoughts
  2. No thought for a second and then one thought rushes on a bicycle
  3. No thought and then one lonely thought and then another
  4. Thought of you as a kid on a bicycle followed by some more random thoughts
  5. Some more random thoughts then a green thought filled with envy rushes past
  6. A thought of you with a friend then a healthy 🙂 thought
  7. Some more thoughts then a thought of a girl
  8. A moment of thoughtlessness and then a lot of thoughts( constant chatter of crows too)

Now if you keep observing for half an hour, you will find that a pattern will emerge. It’s the same as what you will see above from point #1 to point# 8. This is the nature of our mind. Cubbon Park may be a good place to do this exercise from 8-9 AM because slowly the morning crowd starts thinning and at around 9 AM you will find the number of thoughts aka people are half of what they were before. Imagine they shut out the entry and then there is no one. You are all alone- peaceful, easy, no rush to go or come, no one to bother you. At this point you may get a feeling that I have the entire park to myself. This is your first glimpse of ecstasy. Of enlightenment.

On the other hand suppose you start calling out to passers by. Start to talk or engage with them in some manner or the other what do you think will happen? You will talk to one person for some time and then the other one and then the other and so on. Let’s say you find someone quite interesting and you ask him for a cup of coffee or breakfast together. You will go “with” them and will no longer be present. You may take the opportunity to know the person(thought) quite well and then drop the idea of any further relationship. This is again a good way to meditate. Take that one thought and follow it till the end. Watch it threadbare. Where did it come from ? What do I want from it? Am I feeling good or bad about it? who is thinking this thought? If the thought is not me then who am I ? If I am the thought then how can I drop myself?

You will realise with practise that like waves in the ocean thoughts do not have any existence of their own. They rise and fall ipon the infinite sub stratum of our consciousness. Consciousness by itself is pure like the surface of lake in which we can see everything very clearly -as it is, when it is calm and still but as soon as there is some disturbance ripples arise the picture gets distorted. This is the illusion of maya.

Ok enough gyan for today. I will leave you with this beautiful song that incidentally started playing on my headphones after I finished the meditation session. I think the nature rewarded me with something that reflected my state of mind and it was just beautiful. Irshad Kamil has penned such beautiful lyrics. Listen in :

 

रंग बिरंगे वहमों में मैं उड़ता फिरूं..

 

Zen Retreat by Om Swami..

Once Swami Vivekanand ( then Narendra) was discussing spirituality with Ramkrishna Paramhansa at his house. As always Paramhansa was trying to explain the nature of reality to his favourite student but Naren was not convinced.

Ramakrishna got a bit flustered and asked Naren to pick up a weather magazine kept next to where he was sitting. He asked him to go through the content and tell him what was the main theme. Naren told him that the magazine talked about weather conditions especially about rain – how it happens, how much is it going to rain and why, which parts of the country will get more rain and so on. Ramakrishna asked him to take the magazine in his hands and try to squeeze it with his full might. Narendra was perplexed but carried out the instructions. Ramakrishna told him he is not trying hard enough and his student put all his strength to the task. His Guru was now smiling. He told Narendra that wasn’t he surprised that no water came out of the magazine. Narendra got the point and Ramakrishna continued to explain “Just like we cant get rain or water out of a magazine we cannot realise what is the truth, what is reality just by talking about it” He added” When an ant is carrying a small grain of sugar it does not know whether it’s sweet or sour. It just feels the burden of the weight and keeps going in the direction where other ants are going.”

For the past twenty years I have accumulated a lot of knowledge on the nature of reality, the various practices associated with spirituality  and have been doing my own meagre Sadhana, if it can be called that ! I know that the plethora of frauds masquerading as Swami’s are no good and so are the likes of Deepak Chopra and Robin Sharma who soft peddle ancient Indian knowledge to gullible western audience. My quest for a rendezvous with truth led me to Om Swami’s blog. I found his writing clear, concise, fluid with glimpses of deep insights and understanding. I also looked up some and later most of his videos on youtube. Since I had subscribed to the blog an email regarding a Zen Retreat which would be personally presided by the Swami came to my email. I dilly dallied for a few days but when I saw the slots filling up by the hour I decided to pay the fee and register. This was in July this year and the dates for the retreat were given as December 18-22. Over the last few months I pretty much devoured everything that Om Swami has written including his books If truth be told, Wellness Sense, Kundalini and A fistful of love. I left out one book As we know him by his disciples as they tend to glorify and exaggerate and another one When all is not well which is about Depression.

I reached the venue Golden Palms Resort and Spa at the outskirts of Bangalore on the 18th afternoon and after a long check in process for some 250 odd seekers I was finally ready to get the first glimpse of the man who had claimed to see God. As we remained seated for the moment to arrive I felt a bit anxious even sceptical about being where I was. The gathering dressed in white was a mixed bag – there were family’s which probably wanted to combine vacation with some soul searching, old men and women either with each other or on their own, professional devotees who are ready to place their faith with little self enquiry or self doubt and the usual westerners without whom no spiritual gathering looks complete. Only few of us were by themselves. I thought if nothing else I was at least meeting the first condition for a true seeker – of being alone on my journey;-) As I listened to the beautiful Buddhist chant Om Mani Padme Hum I decided to stop judging and focused my undivided attention to what I was there for. I took a deep breadth, chanted Om gently and resolved to make the best of my time for the next 4 days.

At exactly 4:45 PM Om Swami appeared in hall from the door near the lifts and walked briskly towards the stage which was at the other end. The devotees bowed down with respect in their eyes and humility in their posture. I did the same. As Swami sat down I noticed that the room was filled with a very strange but pleasant fragrance. I later guessed that it could be coming from the air freshner in  AC units or may be not.But there is no doubt that the fragrance was quite heavenly so full marks to the  brand which made it. Swamiji very humbly asked everyone to get seated and after offering his obeisance to the divine and his mother he started the discourse. He was giving an introduction to the Zen practice. I must mention something extraordinary which happened at least to me.To give us a glimpse of what he meant by ‘slowing down’ he asked everyone to look at him and hear his words for the next 30 seconds with utmost concentration. As I did that I felt as if the entire hall with everyone in it was in slow motion. I tried shaking off  the feeling but it was not possible. I had once tried some weed in college and the experience was very similar to that. As Swami spoke more about the topic I was convinced that even if I don’t end up having a vision of God I would certainly learn a lot of new things.Also, I had this consolation now that if someone had in fact seen God he would probably look like Om Swami.

I am now going to give you an account of some of the  leaning and the various practices that were taught by Swami ji as part of the retreat.

What is Zen 

It is the Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasising the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures.

The word Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chan which has its origin in the Sanskrit word Dhyana (ध्यान ), which can be approximately translated as absorption or a meditative state.

Satori is at the heart of Zen practice.It’s a term for awakening or the experience of kenshō, – seeing into one’s true nature.

The Heart Sutra

The heart sutra is perhaps the only sermon that the Buddha gave on the subject of Zen. He pronounces that the world as we see it is empty(different from Nihilism – life is meaningless). The insight in Heart Sutra refers to apprehension of the fundamental emptiness (Shunyata) of all phenomena, known through and as the five aggregates of human existence (Skandhas): form (Rupa), feeling (Vedana), volition (Sankahra), perceptions (Samjan), and consciousness (Vijana).

प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदयसुत्रम् ।।

ॐ नमो भगवत्या आर्यप्रज्ञपारमितायै ।।

आर्यावलोकितेश्वरो बोधिसत्वो गम्भीरां प्रज्ञापारमिताचर्यां चरमाणो व्यवलोकयति स्म

पञ्चस्कन्धास्तांश्वस्वरुपशुन्यान्पष्यति स्म । इह शारिपुत्र रूपं शून्यता शून्यतैव रुपम् ।

रुपन्नपृथक् शून्यता शून्यताया न प्रुथग्रुपम् । यद्रूपं सा शून्यता या शून्यता तदेवरुपम् ।

एवमेव वेदनासंज्ञासंसकारविज्ञानम् ।

इह शारिपुत्र सर्वधर्मा: शून्यतालक्षणा अन्नुत्पन्ना अनिरुद्धा अमला अविमला अनूना अपरिपूर्णा: ।

तस्माच्छारिपुत्र शून्यतायां न रुपं न वेदना न संज्ञा न संस्कार न विज्ञानम् ।

न चक्षु:क्षोत्रध्राणजिह्वाकायमनांसि । न रूपशब्दगन्धरसस्प्रष्टव्यधर्मा: ।

न चक्षुर्धातुर्यावन्नमनोविज्ञानधातु: ।

नाविद्य नाविद्याक्षयो यावन्नजरामरणं न जरामरणक्षयो न दु:खसमुदयनिरोधमार्गा न ज्ञानं न प्राप्तिर्नाप्राप्ति: ।

तस्माच्छारिपुत्राप्रप्तित्वाद्वोधिसत्वो प्रज्ञापारमितामाश्वित्य विहरत्यचित्तावरण: ।

चित्तावरणनास्तित्वदत्रस्तो विपर्याप्तातिक्रान्तो निष्ठानिर्वाणप्राप्त: ।

त्र्यध्वव्यवस्थिता: सर्वबुद्धा: प्रज्ञपारमितामश्वित्यानुत्तरां सम्यक्संभोधिमभिसंबुद्धा: ।

तस्माज्ज्ञातव्यं प्रज्ञापारमितामहामंत्रो महाविद्यामंत्रो ङनुत्तरमंत्र समसममंत्र: सर्वदु:खप्रषमण: सत्यममिथ्यत्वात् ।

प्रज्ञापारमितायामुक्तो मंत्रस्तद्यथा

गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा ।।

इत्यार्या प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदयं समाप्तम् ।।

You may want to go through the link below :

Heart Sutra with music and translation

 

The practice of wall gazing and Zazen

It is said that when Prince Bodhidharma went to China from South India he was disappointed by not being able to get the favour of the king and failed to impress him. He went to a cave outside the city and started his practice of Wall Gazing. A deep meditation which he continued for the next 9 years till he was able to know the nature of reality.

zen-mind-preview720

After chanting Om 20 times when the mind becomes calm and the breath settles down we used to start by practising the wall gazing meditation. As there was no wall in front of all the participants Swami ji asked us to concentrate our gaze on a stone instead. The stone was provided by the volunteers. The posture in which we practice wall gazing is most important. As you can see a meditation cushion is used to support the back which must be straight at all times so that the energy can flow freely within us. Apart from that the tongue should be touching the palate, teeth resting on each other not clinched, mouth should be slightly parted and a gentle smile should always be on the face. There are two more aspects of wall gazing meditation – at no point should the eyes be closed for more than lets say 15 seconds and one must have the hands on top of each other with the thumbs and he fingers forming an egg shape as below.

wall-gazing-hands-posture

All through the meditation Swami ji kept reminding us not to close our eyes, to keep the back straight and to have a gentle smile on the face.I will confess that while they do not look like supremely arduous tasks they are most difficult to accomplish even for a short period of 15 min. Even more difficult is not to think of anything else past, present and future. The mind has been compared to a monkey and I could not agree more with that statement.

Last in the meditation session was Zazen which is a slight variation to wall gazing. There is no object to concentrate or focus on. Posture remaining the same one has to just sit quitely fully aware of the moment,the surrounding, the breath and the fact that one was alive. Be here and now in this beautiful moment is the key idea. The only difference between wall gazing and Zazen is that the eyes should remain half closed and not fully open as in the first case. Again, this is not something you do intentionally but if you are not day dreaming with eyes closed or focusing on some object it should be the natural position of your eyes.

buddha-sculpture-third-eye

Here is a link on Zen Practice that may be of help.

Tea Ceremony

This was a most invigorating exercise given that all of us returned to the meditation hall at 3:30 PM after a good meal and some rest or reading in our rooms. We made groups of 5-6 people and served herbal tea to each other. The ceremony was not as elaborate as the original  Japanese one but we got a good understanding of how to do something as mundane as drinking tea, mindfully. We watched as the tea as it was poured into the cup starting with a drop and then turning to a thin  stream forming a pool at the bottom of the cup. As more tea got poured sometimes there were small whirlpools formed in the liquid. The tea was now ready to drink but before that each member of the group served it to one other member with utmost kindness and humility as if serving something precious and holy.

The next you take the cup closer to your nose and smell the aroma, let the steam coming from the cup warm your face and moisten your lips. Then slowly, very slowly being totally aware of your actions you, take the first sip. The mouth is filled with the flavor of the drink and you observe each and every aspect minutely the temperature, the flavor,the effect, the aroma and then how the drink slowly goes down your food pipe into your stomach.Honestly, I do enjoy my cup of normal as well as green tea but had never thought that the simple act can be so uplifting. I almost felt a sense of gratitude towards mother nature for giving us all the spices, the ingredients that had made such a beautiful drink. I realised how thankful we should be to enjoy each cup. Thankful first of all to nature and then to everyone in the chain who helps to bring it to us, never to forget the one who makes and serves.

Kin Hin or walking meditation 

The chief benefit of walking meditation is that we learn how to bring our mind to the present moment even in such everyday activities as walking. Also, when one meditates for long periods of time is sitting meditation it brings untold goodness to the mind but it may not be as good for the body. Movement is essential for certain functions of the body such as digestion, building muscle endurance etc.so walking meditation could provide a necessary break. Video below from a Buddhist monk explains the process of walking meditation beautifully.

Personally, I realised that Walking meditation is more effective in bringing the mind to a meditative state and in building concentration. It may be a good idea to do 5-10 Min of walking meditation before we go into Zazen.

Osoji and Forgiveness Meditation :

Osoji is a Japanese practice of getting out all the stuff in the house at one place and then deciding on each item whether it’s required or not.Typically this is done once at the end of the year and is similar to our Diwali cleaning and the spring cleaning in the west.The goal is to get rid of at least 30% of the articles which are not needed or are not absolutely necessary.

Swami ji told everyone to take the pen and note pad and write down names of people,starting from our very childhood, with whom we have a negative emotion attached. He instructed to even write the emotion that comes to our mind when we think of that person. I thought long and hard but I could not come up with any name except my wife 🙂 Jokes apart, I saw people using the second and the third page while I had just five or 6 names and that too as I had to write something down. When I scanned my memory and thought of a name I remembered what fun we had together or how that person had helped me in a certain way. I really thanked God for being blessed to have such wonderful friends around me. Of course there were few people I have never liked or who have given me a hard time but when I thought about them no emotion came to my mind. The best way for me to avenge someone has been to become completely indifferent to them as if they are dead or they never existed at all. Neitzsche wrote in his book Beyond good and evil :

It’s not that you have deceived me bothers me, I am disappointed that I can’t trust you anymore.

Next everyone was asked to crumple their papers and toss them in a trash bag which went around the hall, carried by some volunteers..

Next day as a follow up Swami ji made us do Forgiveness meditation. As he guided our chain of thoughts we had to think of that one person we hate the most and imagine that they are standing right in front of us. We had to tell them how we felt on their face and let them know that we are going to forgive them from the core of our heart for what they did  – no more grudges, no more hard feelings, no more nothing. Next we had to resolve that we have become totally indifferent to the existence of that person and visualise as if they are dissipating into thin air, never to be back again. It was a most cathartic experience for me. I felt quite light as if a huge burden has been taken away. I wondered why was I even carrying this load up until now. I really didn’t need it. At all.

Some of the other notes which I took from the discourses are listed below. These are all very important if one wants to understand, follow and practice a Zen way of life :

  • Life is transitory. Whatever takes birth must die.We are in a transient state all the time and our time on this earth will be over soon. To remind yourself of this great principle which helps to keep the ego in check and to be more compassionate with everyone around you pick a flower preferably one which has fragrance and keep it on the the dashboard of your car or next to your work desk in office or any other place where you can notice the changes hour by hour, day by day. It can remind us constantly of death as a fact of life and not some distant possibility.
  • Each one of us must have a philosophy of life. A set of rules or goals which we must follow so we become better and more adept in our practice every day. One has to be mindful at all times that every action must be aligned with the philosophy we have chosen to follow in life. Whenever you do something you must validate if it is in line with your philosophy or not. For Example one may chose below virtues and work hard to make sure they guide all our thoughts and actions at all times :
    1. Compassion
    2. Humility
    3. Self discipline
    4. Forgiveness
  • Build your practice one minute at a time. Focus on the quality of meditation not the quantity. 10 min of good quality meditation are far better than 1 hour of day dreaming. Have patience and don’t get frustrated with yourself. If you cannot sit for more than 10 min at a stretch that’s fine. Add just 2 more minutes and see if you can extend that much. To improve posture do the right exercises. There is no point doing meditation in the wrong posture. Respect medical conditions, if any.
  • Finally, the four principles of Zen practice :
    1. Sit quitely – watch the grass grow as simple as that
    2. Take care of your body – it’s like a temple. Live gently in your body.
    3. Learn to handle pain – Pain is natural.When all else fails just breathe. You are still alive. Don’t hurt anyone with painful words.Be kind. Be gentle.
    4. Non Violence – Live in harmony with nature. Nature can heal you.

With that I end this post. बुद्धं शरणं गच्छामि  …

half-prostration-640x320

शाश्वत के संदर्भ में…

एक रोज़

मुझे साफ साफ याद है

शाम थी, दूर का सफर था

और मै चाय के लिये

उतर गया था एक गांव के पास

एक बूढा किसान

पास के खेत में बैठा

ना जाने शितिज के पार

क्या देख रहा  था

उसके चेहरे पर कोई

भाव नहीं था और ना थे

उसके मन मे दुख सुख

लोभ,मोह,चिंता …….

कहने को तो उसके पास

कोई काम नहीं था

पर  वो इस तरह

अनंत को ताड रहा था

जैसे ये भी कोई काम हो

मेरी चाय खत्म हो गयी

और मैं  चलने लगा

तो हमारे नज़रें मिलीं

और वो मुस्कुरा दिया

जैसे कह रहा हो कि

वो वक़्त को बिता रहा था

जैसे वो चाहता था

और वक़्त मुझ पर बीत रहा था

जैसे वक़्त की मर्ज़ी थी

कर्म मे बंधन है

क्योंकि अच्छा हो या बुरा

कर्म अहं को आग देता है

वक़्त को जीत लिया था

उस बूढे सम्राट ने

जो अब घर जा रहा था कि

कल फिर नये उत्साह, नयी उमंग से

दिन भर  कुछ भी ना करे

बस घूरता  रहे  वक्त को

अनंत काल तक….

‍‍~ आहंग

शतरंज

तब मैं जानबूझकर हार जाया करता था

अब चाह कर भी जीत नहीं पाता हूँ तुमसे

पता नहीं कौन सी चाल पर

देखते ही देखते मैं मात खा जाऊँ

ये डर तो लगता है ज़रूर

पर मैं ख़ुश हूँ कि तुम खेलना सीख गये….

आहंग

www.mynesthome.com – online retail venture of my better half :-)

home-sweet-home1

 

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
~Robert Montgomery

What is a home? A home is a space within four walls which has many connotations like an abode, a haven, a dwelling, a safe and secure cocoon and also a sound financial investment. There is nothing in the world as sweet as a home”. ‘East or West, home is the best’ as the saying goes. Home is the symbol of human togetherness- a place where all of us learn the first steps of life. For most people the very thought of home brings fond memories, nostalgic feeling and a gamut of emotions. Some say, “Home is not a place but a feeling”. For some ,” home is where the heart is “, while for some others it’s a place where you can relax and have a cup of coffee with Pablo Neruda and his verses for company.

A post on our facebook page www.facebook.com/mynesthome declares “ A home encourages day dreaming, protects the dreamer and allows one to dream in peace…..my home, my nest my dream machine !”

Another quote on the”mynesthome” Facebook page said, “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”

As famous poet Payne has opined,

 Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

While many people come back to their homes as a matter of habit and do not expect anything more than the comfort of home –cooked food and a soft pillow bed to rest their aches away, it is not unfair to say that a well- kept and stylish home is an unfulfilled dream for many of us. A large percentage of us would jump at the opportunity to add color and style to our homes at a reasonable budget without getting stuck in traffic jams or stepping in and out of shops spanning the length and breadth of the city!

A home is where your creativity can take wings and what better advisor and friend than www.mynesthome.com – the Ultimate Destination for all your home and Living needs. Whether you want to brighten up a dull nook of your house or revamp a whole room, you can do it at the click of a button.Our website offers a vista of products ranging from velvety kaleidoscopic cushions to balcony swings and other outdoor furniture to sturdy and stylish indoor furniture to kids furniture to kitchen essentials to bathroom towels and other styling accessories under one roof. Atwww.mynesthome.com you can shop for your needs while taking part in exciting quiz contests and writing witty captions on the Facebook page. People already love the site and have given feedback like” never seen such a good collection”. Says Neeraj Agarwal,”Seems like a nice collection they have…great shopping destination…” Vidushi Gupta says,” This will definitely be the best online shopping portal for our home. I’m dam sure… waiting 4 d same…”

The grand launch of the portal is being anticipated with bated breaths and eager fingers. Just as it is true that a home is not something that is made only of bricks and stones, it is also true that certain items in the house add to the warmth factor of the house and make everyone feel welcome and wanted. Household items sometimes substitute for or take on the role of family members. For e.g.: A child resting his head on a soft feather pillow listening to a bedtime story and mummy’s finger’s stroking his hair is assured of a good night’s sleep and wonderful sweet dreams .Similarly, your wife’s specialty cheese cake or gajar ka halwa will look even more tantalizing if it is served in a colorful Dessert plate .  Wouldn’t your morning cuppa energize you more if you had it on your balcony swing? At http://www.mynesthome .com what you want is what you see and what you see is what you get! So watch out for a grand launch to brighten up your New Year .

Log on to www.mynesthome.com and serenade into the world of home décor and living.

Swagatam!!

I had the time to stand and stare….

What is this life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare……
While going on a leisure trip with W.H Davies, all of us would have their own versions of what this idyllic place may just be like.Fortunately for me I found one such place – the Honeypot Bread and Breakfast,  in the charming little village of Husbands Bosworth in England’s Leicester County.
I had work at Lutterworth for about 2 weeks and while looking for stay options I came across this Bread and Breakfast place that was just something I was looking for.  All of us do mean to spend sometime in the famed English countryside at some point in life having read about it right through our childhoods. And I thought that this was a perfect opportunity as usually my travels take me only to large cities.
The weekdays were a little hectic and there’s no point boring you with shop talk, so I would like to take you through a leisurely weekend that I spent exploring all the little things that makes this place so special.
Morning 8:00 AM
You have heard of the famous English breakfast. Haven’t you ???
The break fast was a choice of hot and cold with Cereals, Fresh cut fruit as in Kiwis, Pineapples, Melons, Strawberries and even Mango if you were lucky. You could choose from a variety of fresh juices in case you were uncultured enough to say no to the Queen’s favourite drink – tea. 
I am quite a standard , cut and dry kind of chappie when it comes to food so it was butter and toast with hashbrowns most of the time for me but one could surely experiment with egss in all shapes and form – Ommlettes, Poached Egss, Half Fried, Hard boiled, Scrambled and even something called Egg Benedict. Probably there are more ways to cook the egg but I registered just these few. You could surely check with the lady of the house and I know you will get the version you want….
By the way did I tell you that the Breakfast table is laid out overlooking the vast Welland grasslands and rolling hills as far as your eyes can see. Sounds Inspiring. Isn’t it ? 
Aha ….and how can I miss the Honey pot. I am sure the house has one of the largest collection of these.
10:00 AM
After this treat of a kings break fast I wanted to relax a bit and a wonderful collection of books in the library was just what I needed. I picked up a book of poems by RL Stevenson and was pleasantly surprised to note that it was gifted by someone to the Houselady’s father in the year 1924!
Sunshine and fresh air with a playful chirping of birds set the mood as I lay on my bed browsing through some exquisite pieces of poetry. Well,  to be honest the fresh breeze had a bit of a smell from the nearby cowshed of the farmer next door….but I guess it just added to the authenticity of my ‘Village’  experience.
By 11:30 am
My tryst with Mr. Stevenson was over.I decided that to be up and about would probably be more becoming of me  than to waste a bright and sunny morning lazying around within the four walls of my room. Although the warm and cozy bed did tempt me to quit my industrious thoughts. Actually a Quote from the book I was reading motivated me :
It is the season now to go, about the country high and low
Among the Lilacs hand in hand , and two by two in fairyland….
So here I was all ready to explore the countryside at Husband’s Bosworth.
To give a little history of the village,its a settlement that dates back to 409 AD but the oldest living building in the community had its tower built around the year 1300 AD. I was curious about the word Husbands prefixed to the name and checked with the locals to know if there was a Wife’s Bosworth as well. To my amusement I was told that the word Husband comes from the word husbandry as most people in the village raised farm animals like cows,sheep and horses. Carolyn,the lady of the house proudly told us that all her dairy,Meat and Poultry needs were met locally within the village as Husbandry is still quite popular with the village folks.
There were a lot of places for sightseeing mentioned on the village website.http://www.husbandsbosworth.info  which were nearby but I settled for just a walk around  and a visit to the Grand Union Canal. 
The canal did not have much water at this time of the Year but the folks I was staying with shared some interesting instances about their picnic with the kids on the Canal.It was a pleasure to imagine a boat parked out in the front yard where our car was and the whole Goffe family getting ready for a day out on the canal maneuvering all the twists and turns, even the locks at the gates !
On my way back from the canal I saw the waterworks and had to step back and forth to avoid the farmers trucks carrying all kind of stuff to and fro from their farms.Once in the village I thought of exploring the two mainstays of any English village – The church and the Pub. It is my strong belief that the whole world exists between the gates of the Masjid and the Maiqada( Tavern). You are closest to your own reality when you have lost yourself – Peg or Prayer is just something you choose per your state of mind.
The village church was a beautiful building and resembled most churches in England although I fell in love with the Daffodils. While learning the classic form Wordsworth in my school days I had never imagined that I will be looking at a host of them in the English countryside. It is rather amazing how we can shape the consciousness of each other in different epochs of time ; Wodsworth would have also never imagined that his poem would have such an effect on a native Indian of all the souls!
I loitered around aimlessnessly for another couple of hours checking the Inventory at the local post office that doubled up as a convenience store, watching the sheep Graze on the endless rolling hills and waving at the numerous gliders from the nearby flying school. 
I came back at about 1 PM to grab lunch which was nothing great so I will skip the details. With my tummy full dozing off for an afternoon siesta was just the thing to do. I read a few more poems from Stevenson’s book and slept like a baby….although I am sure that baby’s don’t snore as much as I do !
When I woke up it was 5 PM and it was perfect time for a cup of tea. Carolyn an expert home maker had this wonderful selection of teas which was kept in each room ; you could choose from the regular English Breakfast to a mint flavored one to ease your sinuses to a more relaxing version of Chamomile Tea. The butter scotch cookies went just so well with any of them although my personal favorite was the freshly baked cakes that were always kept in the foyer. You could take as many helping as you want ! I sincerely believe that I probably ate half of it myself during the day even though it was meant to be shared with all the guests. Wasn’t really my fault you see – I have a sweet tooth and the cake was just so Yum and full of chocolate.
Refreshed I knew that it was time to hit the Pub. I had read on the notice board that they were having a Quiz there in the evening and the Rajpedia in me was just raring to race against the local Englishmen or women 😉 They had a great selection of draught beer at the Pub but I felt like indulging in some French Wine that would go well with the melted Cheese Pasta I was planning to feast my self on. By the time the Quiz started I had had half a bottle and was in no mood to pick my brains , not that much was left in there anyways. With me were few of my friends and we laughed and talked ( read shouted) about the usual office stuff. 
I don’t smoke much ( tobacco I mean) but with all the grape juice flowing though my veins I figured it was a damn good idea to indulge in this one last sin before hitting the bed once more .So we stood out there outside the B and B taking long drags to beat the punishing cold. I don’t know if any of you have smoked a full cigarette in -20 degrees temperature , I have once and it is just an out of the world feeling , I mean it feels like any moment you would go out of this world :-).This was much better than that…
I came back to my room and thought before go into a deep slumber once again it would be nice to see my kiddos on the Skype ( Wi Fi is free and the connection is good). My son Anant insisted that I tell him a story as this is my duty when I am at home. I did not have to go very far for getting inspiration and quickly weaved a tale of love and honour having Andy and Dora  , the donkeys as the main characters(Andy and Dora were the pets of the house and I had met up with them during the day)
Thankfully the story was so boring that more than my kids I started feeling sleepy so I quickly wrapped up the climax by saying that in the end Andy the Donkey met the She donkey of his dreams and both of them did the stupid dance forever !
Now, those of you who are beginning to think that what a great life the consultants have, I must tell you that you are absolutely wrong. Its only once in a while do we get to enjoy the day as stated above, its actually much better most of the times….. 🙂
So don’t just feel jealous.Choose to move to pastures greener …….

LSD – looking at life with a 25 X zoom…

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience ……

The term LSD(Lysergic Acid Dyethylamide) or Acid as it is popularly known has come back into debate since Steve Jobs claimed in his autobiography that taking LSD was one of the most profound experiences of his life. This is not the first time that creative people or those who have changed the world around us have used Psychedelics as a means of expanding their consciousness. Google founders Sergey Berin and Larry page visited ‘The burning Man’ festival before they founded Google as a company. The decision to hire Eric Schmidt was also influenced by the fact that he had been to the ‘burning man’ while others had not. Whether any of them used psychedelics while at the burning man is not documented. We all know the penchant of artists and musicians for psychotropic substances so I will just take it for granted.

While the name LSD instils wonder and mystery may be even fear in most of us in India it has been used for over 40 years in the west as a street drug for so called ‘trips’ and even for exploring its various medical uses. It seems that the scientists are all for it but the governments across the world stand on the opposite side of the fence.The inventor of LSD Albert Hoffman argued that his invention if used improperly could make one go crazy but it used correctly it has the power to make us what we are supposed to be. The fact that he died a perfectly healthy man at the ripe old age of 102 testifies the claim the physical side effects of LSD use are negligible. A year before his death in 2008 Hoffamn had reached out to Steve for funding of his research.While nothing concrete came out of the half hour chat Steve summed up saying ‘ Lets just put it in the tap water and get everybody turned on’.

There are several documentaries on You tube that you can browse to know more about the subject. I am embedding one from the National Geographic channel in case you don’t want to waste your time.

Now that brings me to the larger question that if such a potent means of experiencing your self, dissolving the ego and raising your level of awareness/consciousness exists why put so much time and effort to get realized as per Hindu or Buddhist philosophy. The answer comes in the form of an anecdote shared by Ram Dass ( born Richard Alpert and raised to be Harvard professor of sociology who inspired Steve to visit India as a backpacker in the early 1970’s)  in which he says that one day his Guru Baba Neem Karori told him that he wanted to have LSD. While Ram Dass was surprised he knew that there is no point in trying to hide anything from his Guru who knew everything about everything. He got his bag of pills and wanted to offer just one thinking that it would be enough for the old man. Baba on the other hand selected several of them and popped them into his mouth.To his great surprise nothing seemed to happen to his Guru who just kept looking at him in a a very transparent way as if saying – It is all within you !

Now this is easier said than done to the point of being cliched. You see a guru on one of the religious channels giving gyan and you think to yourself – Oh Yeah, really. We are conditioned to believe stuff that we can see and experience ourselves not something which is surrogate and second hand.It’s like someone trying to tell you that the chocolate was just sooooo good but you want to know how good and the other person can’t really explain it to you. Now in the case of a chocolate you have the freedom to break the bar and take a piece to share the experience but what about self realization ? You don’t even know what it is supposed to be and even more whether the Guru telling you about it has experienced anything by themselves. That’s when faith becomes blind or you start drifting apart into the so called material world which is at least real and genuine to your five senses.

Trying to delve deeper into the subject I have tried to understand the phenomenon of the ‘trip’ and what it does to us I have come to an understanding that the LSD probably helps us to break down the barriers hat we have built around around our mind and spirit. Our sense of being emerges in a self image that results in an ego or what we think we are while in reality this is just a hoax created by our conditioning and orientation, even a sense of insecurity to hold on to what I love to call the gathered past.As soon as the magic molecule fits in the right place in the cortex our ego starts to melt and with it goes away our self image and sense of being. We start to have ‘ a beginners mind’ as per the Zen philosophy ready to look at the world around us in a new light, in a fresh way. Creativity becomes the obvious by product of this process. We are like the child who experienced the world for the very first time. To put it into perspective how magical it is when you fall in love for the first time, how sensuous to make love for the first time, how wonderful to be with friends and discover but then you get into the ‘loop’ mode and the experiences cease to have the novelty they did before boring your mind and making life mechanical and uninteresting. Again as you grow bad experiences such as death, disease and decay stare you in the face and cause another kind of conditioning that aims to block your reaction to these as far as possible. You continuously struggle to break free but you don’t know how and even from what ?? LSD and other such stuff helps you to become a child again roaming about in the wonderland of new experiences,breaking down the barriers of conditioning that does not allow you to see things as Aldous Huxley says ‘They Are’.

LSD does not actually alter the reality it just makes it more ‘real’ by enhancing our brains capacity to process sensory information. In a state of expanded consciousness you tend to see things as they happen not depending upon your data bank of past knowledge supporting the vision by assuming what would have happened.

Now you must be thinking about the obvious question – what about me ? Well I will let the fact that whether I have had LSD or not remain a mystery in your mind I will tell you that I do know the ‘high’ that lets the red become really red and when the flower looks more beautiful than it used to. The pupils get dilated and you get goose bumps for nothing. You are just plain amused and the happiness stems from nothing but just pure existence.

I have looked at life with a 25 X zoom ….. and there is no other way but my method and my tools are different. I am convinced that my orange bus might be slow and needs more maintainance but the destination its going to take me will be real and final.

Meanwhile I am just enjoying the ‘trip’ …….

अजनबी (strangers)

तब ये समा था कि क्या मैं बात करूं तुमसे,

अब ये आलम है कि क्या मैं तुमसे करूं बात ?

I thought then that I should talk to you.But what ?

Now I think that what should I talk to you ? If at all…

~aahang

 

Time Pass

It was a lazy sunday morning and I was a bit free from the daily routine of the week days.My son Anant who had taken his own sweet time to get up was now lounging on the bean bag playing with his Nintendo DS. In a casual tone I admonished him ” your exams are starting monday and here you are wasting time.” Without bothering to turn back he replied” I am not wasting time I am doing time pass”  I said “what do you mean?” He said ” Papa if I am not doing anything then I am wasting time but if I am playing then I am doing time pass”

I thought to myself – Anu( my wife) must have been reading Emmanuel Kant when this guy was in the womb. My fatherly instincts took over so I snatched the Video game and asked Anant to leave immediately and be seen with his books.He looked at me as a philosopher will at some ignorant fool but I put up a brave face nonetheless.

The video game was now in my hands so I started fiddling with it. It was a game called plants and Zombies wherein the target was to save the house with the help of plants who had special powers to destroy the Zombies who kept barging in from one end trying to reach the other end unless stopped by the plant. The catch was that all Zombies were not the same and so were the plants.Some were more stronger than the others and some had special characterstics so they could b destroyed only with the special features that only some of the plants had. I thought I will give it a try…..

After playing for about half an hour I realized that the game was not as simple as it seemed to be. The moment you reached to the next higher level the frequency and speed of the Zombies increased making it almost impossible for at least someone like me to check their misadventure. I could barely reach the level 2 but was quite pleased with my performance until I exited the game to see that the top performers led by Anant Kumar were all at least above the Level 5, a feat I could perhaps never achieve!!

I put the game aside and started thinking about the original quote by the Guru (Anant). Perhaps the not so obvious meaning in his morning discourse had to be decoded to understand the true depth of the statement. The difference between wasting time and passing time solicited closer scrutiny. Wasting time as per Anant was when you are doing absolutely nothing and passing time was when you were doing something which had no material value but was done solely for the purpose of self gratification  or you may even say for the sole purpose of Soul entertainment. Now here’s where the catch lay….my education in Vedanta and subsequent studies on meditative techniques defined meditation as the state of ‘nothingness’ or ‘Shunyta’ where the mind is absolutely free from any agitations – a thoughtless, speechless, non sensory condition in which you felt one with the silence and nothingness of the universe to realize that you are the part of the same whole and therefore limitless and free.

But on the contrary when you look at the interplay of the Jeev and the Atman as prescribed in the same Vedantic texts the Jeev is supposed to have been separated from the Atman and due to its ignorance cannot realize its true nature which is sat chit anand i.e all pervading,all knowing and ever blissful. The creation of the world for Gods happiness or playfulness is also explained  with the help of above phenomenon. It is said that the God created the whole Universe and everything within it for his own happiness as there is nothing else which could have forced him upon this endeavour , after all he doesn’t have annual appraisals !

So if we look at God creating the entire Universe and everything in it for the sole purpose of soul entertainment which is nothing but time pass then Anant’s time pass theory is well justified.  But if we consider man’s not doing anything an act of meditation leading to self realization then there is probably more value in wasting time than in passing time.

Now if I take the same argument to Anant I know what his answer would be – do you consider God to be superior or Man to be superior. I would say God Of course ! and he will therefore win the argument saying that since he was indulging in a ‘godly act’ of time pass and I had committed a serious error of judgement by breaking his concentration. To which my only humanly response could be that wasting time which qualifies as meditation is the right thing to do for us Jeev’s to meet with the Atman but then Anant might lose the argument but stop doing anything.

The above put me to a larger question of human existence – if we do something for the purpose of pleasing the spirit do we come closer to being God or if we strive towards non action in thought and deed do justify the purpose of our being.

Whatever might be the answer I don’t see the place for work in any of the two positions. And I think this is one thing that Anant will completely agree with me…..

 

 

तब देख बहारें होली की…..

जब फागुन रंग झमकते हों, तब देख बहारें होली की
और दफ के शोर खडकते हों,तब देख बहारें होली की

परियों के रंग दमकते हों, तब देख बहारें होली की
खम शीशे जाम छलकते हों ,तब देख बहारें होली की

महबूब नशे में छकते हों, तब देख बहारें होली की
सीनों से रंग ढलकते हों ,तब देख बहारें होली की

दिल में अहसास महकते हो, तब देख बहारे होली की
पकवान बहुत से पकते हों ,तब देख बहारें होली की…..

होली मुबारक !! खूब मज़े कीजिये…..

The beautiful composition above is from Nazeer Akbarabadi and the last 2 lines have been added by yours truly as my contribution to the spirit of holi.

कैसे केह दूं मेरी हमदम….

तुम मेरी आदत हो, तुम मेरा हिस्सा हो

मेरी बेमज़ा जिंदगी का दिलचस्प किस्सा हो

कैसे केह दूं मेरी  हमदम

कि मुझे प्यार नहीं है तुमसे

बहुत से सच और कुछ झूठ कहे हैं मैने

तुम्हारे साथ से दूर सर्द मौसम भी सहे हैं मैंने

मगर वो बात जिसे ना लफ्ज़ कभी दिये हैं मैंने

उसे केहना आज मेरे लिये ज़रूरी है

कि बिन तुम्हारे ज़िंदगी मेरी अधूरी है

मैंनें हमेशा और हरदम ही चाहा है तुम्हें

तुमने माना या नहीं, मैंने सराहा है तुम्हें

यूं  ही साथ चलते चलते शाम ए हयात आएगी

अपने बिछडने का पैगाम साथ लाएगी

मैं जानता हूं कि तुम साथ  रहोगी तब तक

मेरे जिस्म में  आखिरी सांस रहेगी जब तक

कैसे कह दूं मेरी हमदम के मुझे

प्यार नहीं है तुमसे…..

– आहंग

 

KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOY – True to his own spirit..

I had just wrapped up work and was ready to leave the office early when  my client asked me “So Raj you fly back tommorow.Right ? I don’t think you got a chance to see any of Paris. I am sure you want to at least see the Eiffel Tower before you head back home”

“Well yes I think I can surely use some sight seeing” I said ,all the while packing my stuff quickly into the laptop bag. “You can take your time Raj,Paris  is the city of night. We don’t sleep that early and you will find most places open late into the night.Where are you planning to go?” This was precisely the question I was trying to avoid as I did not want to lie to the client at the beginning of what is termed as a ‘ long lasting relationship’ in consulting parlance.

“Well I am heading for a cemetery and I am afraid it will get closed by the time I reach there.So  I just want to hurry up” I informed with a stoic expression on my face so he doesn’t think what a whacko he had hired. “A cemetery ? the whole world comes to Paris to see the Opera, the museums, the Champs Elysees,the Theatre and you want to go see a cemetery?” I just smiled at him and let it be for I knew it will be difficult for me to explain to him that it was my wish of 15 years to go and place some flowers on the grave of Jim Morrison – rock star, singer, poet, philosopher and an enigma that has touched my life in more ways than one.

The client must have thought that I had some long lost relative of mine buried here in Paris and I would say he was not too far from the truth ! The good thing was that I could leave the place fast.

A friend had advised me to take the metro as Paris traffic could be bad at peak hours but I was not too confident of the signs which were mostly in French so I preferred a cab. As I later realized this was a big mistake .I had managed to explain the cab driver in broken English that Pere Lachaise was a cemetery and therefore it closes by 6 PM so the good guy tried his best to either beat the traffic or to drive as fast when there was a clearer patch but I guess our recklessness was no match to Jim’s. We reached the gates as they were getting closed. In the true fashion of a fan I pleaded with the security explaining that I would be going back to India tomorrow morning possibly never to return and this was my last chance to say Hi to Jim in his resting place but although they were quite polite they did not let me in. The discussion ended when one of the guys who could manage little bit English said ” If I let you see Jim , I have no job” !

Desperate and disappointed I started walking down the path along side the walls of the graveyard. There was a friend with me and even if I was talking to him my thoughts started to wander and the lines ‘they are waiting to take us, into the severed garden’ started playing at the back of my head. I realized how cold and lifeless the evening was and how dead were the people on both sides of the wall separated by an event , a possibility that was so far away and yet so near you could almost reach out and touch it like Jim did. I tried to recall the rest of the lines and then when I had almost given up they came to me like a gush of the wind that blew to me from the silence of the tombstones like a rustle of leaves of a pleasant evening. It made perfect sense as I recited the poetry to myself standing there in the midst of all the crushed bodies in the metro- a jumbled mass of sights,smells and sounds :

They are waiting to take us

into the severed garden
Do you know ?how pale and wanton, thrillful

Comes death on a strange hour

Unannounced, unplanned for
Like a scaring over-friendly guest

you’ve brought to bed

Death makes angels of us all
And gives us wings
Where we had shoulders
Smooth as raven’s claws

No more money, no more fancy dress
This other kingdom seems by far the best
Until it’s other jaw reveals incest
And loose obedience to a vegetable law.

I will not go
Prefer a feast of friends
To the giant family.

On the plane I kept thinking about how Jim’s life was different.And one thing that I could surely conclude was that his life was really an enigma, an intriguing tale of someone who wanted to push the limits and test the bounds of reality but fell short of attaining  Nirvana when he was almost there. As many would not know Jim was always one of the most gifted student in his class. He devoured a large amount of literature at a very early age and used to quote philosophers such as Rimbaud in his school days. He was deeply influenced by writings of William Blake, Fredriche Neitzsche and other European philosophers.His poetic style reflected the writings of Jack Kerouac who was the originator of the beat generation of poetry in American literature. Jim’s cryptic lyrics had a close resemblance to the spontaneity in Jacks work especially as seen in his book on the road.

Another aspect of Jim’s life was that he renounced his family as soon as he moved out of his parents house.He did this in spite of the fact that he had a very normal childhood except that his father being in the navy was away from home for long periods.Not that this renouncement could be directly attributed to his worldly detachment but it might be interesting to note that severing all ties with the family is an integral part of taking sanyas in the hindu spiritual tradition.Even at one time when his mother flew in all the way to New York where he was having a concert he deliberately avoided meeting her. This could be just one of his eccentricities but it does qualify for him to be a recluse if not a saint.

All 3 members of the Doors were followers of Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and Ray Manzarek encouraged Jim many times to take up meditation.At his insistence, Jim once even paid a visit to Mahesh Yogi to see in his eyes ‘whether he was happy’ After meeting the Yogi Jim admitted that he had seen perfect happiness in his eyes but for himself he preferred the shorter and quicker route to ecstasy.Jim even wrote a song for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi which he performed at one of his later concerts.

If non possession and detachment to worldly objects was taught by the Buddha  I would say Jim Morrison was his biggest follower. It is amazing that while his life was filled with acts of debauchery and extreme recklessness he never had anything he could call his own. He had no tendency to hoard – either good or bad.His wardrobe was limited to a pair of Jeans and his Leather pants and may be a some shirts that he wore with them.He would go unwashed for days on end moving from one place to the other never bothering about who would shelter or feed him. He had no permanent residence or anything that could be called a home for most part of his life. Being the legend that he had become in his lifetime he never carried any money on his person.He had no bank account , no wallet no nothing may be just a credit card which also he used to forget here and there after the drinking sessions.

Pamela Courson could be considered as close as he ever got to something called a relationship or a girlfriend but even with her he never bothered to have any kind of  mutual understanding. While both felt they were in a relationship at some level they were apart most of the time and Jim made new friends everyday with whom he ended up sleeping most of the times.Whether Pamela was OK with this or not only she would know but it doesn’t seem she made a big deal out of it.It is rather interesting that only Pamela was with Jim when he died in Paris and she buried him at Pere Lachaise along with two other friends.She joined Jim by his side 3 years later.

There are many other anecdotes from Jim’s life like his going to the desert to find the lost souls of the dead Indians, his concerts in which he experimented with his ability to control collective consciousness of the crowds, his poetry which had life and its meaning as the central theme and so on. He even named the collection of his poetry ‘Wilderness’  suggesting his longing to be with himself.

Whether or not Jim Morrison was a saint I can’t say but  from the above one can clearly make out that all the ingredients were certainly there. I think somewhere along the way he got it all mixed up. He had a heart that probably was closer to being a saint but he had a mind that evoked the evil side of him when he lost control because of the confusion inside.Curiously, the combination drove his spirit towards testing the outer bounds of  reality from which he never returned.

Writing this post on Jim I am reminded of Ghalib and what he says about himself :

ये मसाइले तसववुफ ये तेरा बयान गालिब

तुझे हम वली समझते जो ना बादाख्वार होता…

These matters of spirituality and your take on them O Ghalib

We would have thought of you as a sage, had you not been a drunkard…

On my next visit I did visit Jim’s Grave. Here are the memories :

I would leave you with this beautiful song that’s been converted on you tube as a tribute to Jim :

Lucknow Boy – Book review

Its been a while since I put up a book review on my blog. I was compelled by a feeling of utter disappointment to do this one. Lucknow Boy is a memoir of much celebrated Editor of Outlook Mr. Vinod Mehta to whom my alma mater Lucknow university bestowed the life time achievement award last year.

I wouldn’t say that I am a huge fan of Mr Mehta but nevertheless I have intently heard the debates on TV in which he is participating as I have felt that he is one of the few sane voices in a medium infested with the ‘ sound bite’ disease. Journalists today are the a bunch of ill informed megalomaniacs and psuedo intellectuals peddling their stale wares to an equally dumb franchisee. I thought Vinod was different till I read his memoir. I still hope that I am wrong and he was just ill advised by some of his media savvy friends in turning his observations of himself into a rant on Indian public life aka tamasha we all love to hate. What really put me off was that someone of Mr Mehta’s wit,stature and intelligence could not figure it out. The only excuse I can muster is that he himself did not bother to read the 500 odd pages from start to finish else he would have shared the disgust I was subjected to.

The book begins in Lucknow (obviously)  where the Young Vinod goes to La Martiniere  School. I must say that this was perhaps the most interesting part may be because till this time Mr Mehta was writing with a pen on his heart lost in the deep love,wonder  and nostalgia of childhood and youth. I could as would any other youngster of Lucknow identify with him perfectly. Lucknow is not only a city, it’s a character that grows on you until it becomes a part of how you Live,eat,pray and love. Lucknow Wallahs tend to create  a dream world of their own which has subtle humor, sarcasm, a laid back lifestyle, good food , great wine and lots of women ( mostly imagined). The world of a young Vinod along with the pranks and trials could be of anyone growing in a city that  defies all definition but remains charming in an odd way.

The story moves on as Mr. Mehta goes to England and is still readable and engrossing as you empathize with a small town boy finding a place in the big bad world full of intellectual Pseudisms   and societal pretensions. But this is where it was ‘ innocence lost’ and nothing gained for the young Mehta. The more He thought he found the world the more he started losing  himself.

Life is Mumbai and the stint with Debonair ( all of us grew up with it) was the last leg of the journey that warranted companionship.After this Mehta is on his own churning  a sagging tale of the various interactions he had with a milieu of corporate,business and political characters – some he won and some he lost but for the reader the plot started to dwindle to sorry little details of who drank what scotch and who screwed whom with all the soggy details thrown in.

By the time I was half away I  started skipping paragraphs.Since I did not find anything interesting especially in the context of a Memoir I will jump the details and highlight some of the stuff that Mr Mehta must take a note of. Being the Iconic editor that he is I am sure it will give him some pointers as to what went wrong :

1. Found it absolutely funny even out of place to see pages written about various celebrated personalities of India Sonia Gandhi dot dot : 4 pages, atal behari dot dot 4 Pages, Rahuil Gandhi !!!! who writes about Rahul Gandhi in his Memoir ??

The craziest thing was to try and belittle Amitabh Bachchan for his visits to temples for the good of his sons married life. Why did you do it ?? It was your memoir and I can promise you that Amitabh would never bother about a non entity like you in his Memoir. And by the way I bought the book to read about your journey not his.

I don’t know whether your wives – ex and current will bother to read what you have come up with but if they do they would be singularly disappointed to find a chapter about your Dog and not more than a line about either of them. Guess Dogs are more important than Soul mates.

Last but none the less the least and lowly was the bit about giving gyan on what to do to become a successful journalist and what not to do. Sir it is your life story not a Navneet ki Kunji for High school Exams. Passing out in third Division in arts stream from one of the most lowly ranked universities in the world If you could figure it out I can assure you that the future generations can as well do it – without your kind advice.

Agree  ?? My sincere suggestion is that you pull back all copies in circulation and rewrite the whole thing.This time all by yourself and strictly without the commercial advice of your publisher friends. You made your money, now make your mark….

Fortunately for me I picked up The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghssh on my return flight and was washed off from all my sins of the onward journey.

Six Men, Elephant and FDI in retail….

Watching the circus on TV  for the last two days since FDI in Retail has been announced I could not but help comoparing the situation to the famous parable of the elephant and six blind men. While each has its own opinion based on what part of the elephant they are holding ( like the opinions of our learned media,business men and politicians) , no one exactly knows what the animal ( in this case quite literally ! ) looks like. For someone like me who has worked closlely with the farmers as well as in retail for a long time the picture is quite clear. We are talking two different business models here : one is based on scale and the other is based on service and convenience. If you just look around : has a single mom and pop store closed down even when you have a number of so called organized big box retailers are all around them. Within a Km radius of my place in Bangalore I have a Big bazar super centre, a More Super centre and a number of Nilgiris, MK Retail,Reliance and others but I still order from the store next to my place or go and buy it from there for day to day needs : No ques therefore quick transaction or homedelivery that gets the store to your doorstep being my simple drivers.

For farmers there is absolutely no link between FDI and what they will get for the price of their produce. They sell to the mandis governed by APMC act today or just sell their produce to anyone that gives them a better price. On what basis are people debating that farmers will be adversly effected beats me completely.Typically in all economies with dominance of organized retail farmers realize 2/3 of the retail price of their produce vs. just 1/3 or lower in economies where such a mechanism does not exist.It’s quite simple if You know that at what price the retailer is going to sell what he buys from me and if all farmers know what price their produce sells in organized retail are they fools that they willl give it up to a Wal Mart just like that ?? It is this non transpareny that kills them today.When we are buying Onions at Rs50 a Kg the farmer is still getting just 5 Rs for it , so where does the Rs. 45 go ??No one knows or those who know are crying wolf wolf !! I don’t even want to go into the efficiencies in supply chain etc which will of course add a lot o value to consumers, producers and retailers alike. I have seen Wal Mart very closely and I know that it is one of the most hoenst, forthright and efficient companies in the world. What a lot of people say about Wal Mart is mostly out of ignorance or their own selfish interest. It’s a giant that competition is afraid of and fear always brings in insecurity.

Anyways you enjoy the poem and try to figure out which of the blind men is Politicians, Media, Businessmen, shopkeepers, farmers and general public :

It was six men of Indostan

To learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant(Though all of them were blind),

That each by observation

Might satisfy his mind

And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars,

The disputants, I ween,

Rail on in utter ignorance

Of what each other mean,

And prate about an Elephant

Not one of them has seen!

For the complete version click here : http://www.wordfocus.com/word-act-blindmen.html

Let’s first see the elephant and then we can talk about it.

फासले…..

तब मैं तुम्हे जानना चाहता था

और तुम मुझे समझ नहीं पाती थीं

अब तुम मुझे जानना नहीं चाहती

और मै तुम्हें समझ नही सकता

दर्मियां अपने , दूरियां तो कम हैं शायद

हां फासले बहुत हैं…..

–  आहंग

 

 

अब तो पथ यही है

जिंदगी ने कर लिया स्वीकार,

अब तो पथ यही है

अब उभरते ज्वार का आवेग मद्धिम हो चला है,

एक हलका सा धुंधलका था कहीं, कम हो चला है,

यह शिला पिघले न पिघले, रास्ता नम हो चला है,

क्यों करूँ आकाश की मनुहार ,

अब तो पथ यही है |

क्या भरोसा, कांच का घट है, किसी दिन फूट जाए,

एक मामूली कहानी है, अधूरी छूट जाए,

एक समझौता हुआ था रौशनी से, टूट जाए,

आज हर नक्षत्र है अनुदार,

अब तो पथ यही है|

यह लड़ाई, जो की अपने आप से मैंने लड़ी है,

यह घुटन, यह यातना, केवल किताबों में पढ़ी है,

यह पहाड़ी पाँव क्या चढ़ते, इरादों ने चढ़ी है,

कल दरीचे ही बनेंगे द्वार,

अब तो पथ यही है |

Life has accepted it
This will be my path now
The ferocity of rising tide has faded away,
The fog which was there somewhere is no more,
This stone may melt or may not, but at least its softened,
Why should I beg from the skies,
This must be my path now
This vase made of glass is but fragile,
leaving the ordinary story untold
the bond I had with light looks bleak
and the stars seem so small
But , this will be my path now
The fight, which I have fought with myself,
It’s suffocation, it’s pain, is heard in books only,
I have made the climb not with my feet
but with my conviction,
And these windows are poised to be my doors soon,
I know this is my path now
~ By Dushyant Kumar, interpretative translation by aahang

Googled forever !

It was 1995. We were passing out of our MBA class and getting a job offer was top on everyone’s mind.The problem was how to know what company’s to approach and also how to approach them all at once.Some bright kid came up with the idea of email.What’s that ? all of us thought.Don’t be surprised sending a message through a computer and not through your friendly neighborhood post office was still something weird.I won’t say we were alien to the concept but it was a concept at the end of the day.

Emails were sent out and each day we waited closely by the side of the only computer with a dial in connection which was set up in the Dean’s office.Some companies did respond back and for the first time I got convinced that folks do exist in cyber space and our ’email’  just doesn’t get lost into oblivion.

Once this miracle happened it threw a challenge as to how do you find more email addresses of more companies so they don’t get deprived of our managerial talent.So we set ourselves a task of going and meeting ‘potential’ managers and then taking their email ID’s to start the dialogue.It sounds primitive alright but believe me in those days of vsnl.net.in it was the most happening stuff you could do.We did back up all electronic communication with physical ones just to be sure.After all sending out emails was more a measure of our smartness than a means of getting a response.

Finally I found a job but my tryst with tech ended quite unceremoniously as the company I joined was a government organization. They had some 486 desktops but they were mostly there to keep the 4th grade employees gainfully employed.Each morning or sometimes each week the plastic covers were removed in a ritual only to be put back in place after the customary cleaning had been performed.Seeing this ceremony everyday I got curious I asked my manager who put these ‘ things’ here if no one knew what to do with them and he came up with an equally interesting explanation.According to him these things were procured under a UNDP grant so that the idle funds could be utilized.If this was not done there was a lurking danger that the funding would get reduced by that quantum.One day I got really catty and so I unveiled the shroud on one of the monsters to see what was inside. I quickly realized that the only trick it could show was a ‘welcome to UPEC Ltd.’  screen which zoomed in and out gyrating while it did so.

I might be failing in memory here but it was sometime around 1998 that hot male Sabeer Bhatia sold his innovation to Microsoft. Till hotmail the only way you could communicate via email was through your organizations email or through an email provided by your Internet service provider. What was exceptional about hotmail was that it was web based and so it freed you of the clutches of the organization and ISP. By 1999 everyone who could switch on a computer had an email account. A web based email account meant an ability to communicate without the barriers of time and space.For the very first time it also gave us an option of faking/hiding our cyber identities and having multiple ones if we so desired.

The web based  and cheap hotmail opened a world of opportunity for those in the export business and even I got the idea of exporting some stuff out on my own to a friend in the US. Email was not the driver but it was a motivator, an enabler -If I could communicate almost for free across 16000 kms there was something to be done about it right. My luck didn’t shine and my fledgling ideas died their natural death but I still know of a few friends who would owe a large part of their success to hotmail if not all of it.Of course Sabeer became a millionaire leaving all of us awed, inspired even feeling cheated as to why the hell I didn’t get this simple idea.Its been happening ever since first with google and now with facebook.The only respite on the facebook idea is that I have taken refuge in a moral high ground of not looking at pictures of females while sloshed out of your mind.If my character is the price I have to pay for not being able to invent facebook the so be it.

I can clearly recall that till about 2000 Internet explorer was the only popular web browser and it was almost magical to see the globe at the top right corner of your computer screen go round and round once you pressed the ‘enter’ key.Some smart ass told me that the faster it rotates the quicker the website will load itself and I always used to get confused and ask myself ‘ faster than what?’. I knew that faster meant faster than itself but each time I though I had figured it all out the website would load faster even if the globe was moving slow or vice versa so that my calculations would fall through. Then one day a geek friend of mine  enlightened me that speed is not the only thing and it depends a lot on the how ‘ heavy’ the content of the website you are loading is. Now what’s ‘ heavy’ about something that shows on your computer screen I wondered.And thus began my endless race to keep up with all the mysteries of the ‘ INTERNET’ which I still seem to be running to full strength of my intellectual stamina.

Sometime around 2000 someone gave a 100000 $ cheque to 2 young guys out of stanford.No one knew at that time that how ‘search’ would get much bigger than mail.Curiosity has led the way to human civilization and this was no different. An angel investor wanted to know where his bet on the google boys would take him and suddenly the whole world wanted to know where all they can go on google. The ability to search websites for most relevant information gave the power to WWW as we knew it. Everyone had figured out by 2002 that things will never be the same again except the google team in the valley who were still trying to figure out a way to make money without being evil.

Unaware of the strife on the west coast here was me happily typing away in the box at the top end on an empty page finding out everything from flights to hotels to jobs to cures for allergies…….Wow with this new genie I was omniscient and so was everyone else across the globe.I am convinced that google was the turning point of our relationship with the internet and what it could do for us.The websites and the information were there but without a trusting way of knowing if I am looking at the best possible  information , one piece of it was as good as the other.

My next big association with the internet happened when I was at a low point in my life and career.Things were not looking up either ways and I needed to reinvent probably re produce myself before I lost my sanity.Someone told me about blogging and wordpress.My posts offered me a medium to express myself to the unknown, to think and write about stuff I never thought I would think or write about.In fact I never knew I had so much or even anything to say.Initially I would post something and look at stats every day sometimes twice or thrice a day.I used to wait for comments from strangers.Somebody had to clip the wires around them and reach out to me from cyber space.They did until one day when I realized my catharsis was complete and stats were just a set of numbers.Still my blog is and perhaps will remain one of my closest friend ever.

In between the world changed many times over and we started doing almost everything on the net.So much so that we were ‘skyping’ each other from one bedroom to the other !!!

Finally facebook happened and friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even adversaries got a new lease of life. Dead relationships got exhumed although some skeletons remained in the closets.

My status today is not the house or car or the designation  it is a line or two in the rectangular box next to my smiling  picture on the fb page.That’s how the world knows me and that’s what I keep updating.My physical existence in a 6 foot frame today is perhaps much less precious or popular than my digital footprint reaching out to places and people who were otherwise completely out of bounds.

When I look back the last 15 years and ask myself if I have gained more or lost much because of my relationship with the wi fi the answer is never black and white but a shade of grey just like the screen of my laptop…..

नवाबी तलवार…

एक मर्तबा लखनऊ शहर में एक उजडे नवाब हुआ करते थे. नाम था मिराजुद्दौला. उनकी तारीफ यूं तो क्या  थी सिवा इसके कि बाप दादों की रियासत का मज़ा लूटते थे पर हां  यही बात अगर आप हमसे उनके सामने पूछ्ते तो हमारा जवाब ज़हिर तौर पर ये होता  कि साहब जितनी की जाये कम है !

अब नवाब कह दिया तो ये तो साफ ही हो गया कि कोई काम काज तो मियां मिराजुद्दौला क्या ही करते होंगे पर हां इसका ये मतलब कतई नही निकलता उनकी मसरूफियत में कोई कमी थी. नसीमो सुबह से गुफ्तगू करने और गुसल फरमाने के बाद नवाब साहब  बाकयदा दीवानखाने में तख्तनशीं हो जाया करते और शाम होने तलक कौम के तमाम इखलाकी और तम्यद्दुन्नी मसलों में दखल दिया करते. चूंकि उनकी नसीहतें ज़रा ओछी और कमतर हुआ करती थी सो  वो  आलिम फाज़िल कम किस्सा  गो  के तौर पर  ज़्यादा मशहूर हो गये थे.खैर बद्नाम हुए तो  क्या नाम ना हुआ…..

अरे हां उनकी मकबूलियत कि एक वजह ये भी थी उनके बावर्ची जैसे लज़ीज़ कबाब और पराठे सारे लखनऊ शहर में और कोई नहीं बनाता  था.एक बार तो हमारे पर दादा जान की किस्मत का तारा भी चमका था ,क्या बतायें आज तलक हमारे खानदान में सबकी उंगलियां पतली हुआ करती हैं.

हुज़ूर यूं तो नवाब मिराजुद्दौला की करामातों के तमाम  किस्से आप चौक की गलियों में गोलियां खेलते लौंडों से सुन सकते है पर जो किस्सा हम आज आपको  सुनायेंगे वो सबसे अलग और अहम है.लीजिये संभालियेगा…

तो जनाब हुआ यूं  कि  एक रोज़  नवाब साहब ज़रा हवा  खाने  को निकले तो उनकी  सवारी  का रुख    नख्खास  की  तरफ  हो गया. लखनऊ शहर में नख्खास जो था वो पुरानी और नायाब चीज़ों के लिये  मशहूर हुआ करता था. दबी ज़बान में तो लोग ये भी  केहते थे कि वहां बहुत सा मालो असबाब वो होता है जिसके मालिक का कोई अता पता न हो. आप चाहें तो इसे चोर बज़ार कह सकते हैं पर हम नहीं कहेंगे. अब जिस जगह पर नवाब साहब की आमोदरफ्त  हो उसे हम कैसे कह दें कि वो चोर बज़ार है.आखिर शराफत भी कोई चीज़  है.बहरहाल घूमते घामते नवाब साहब की नज़र एक ऐसी चीज़ पर पडी जिसका इस्तेमाल उनके बाप दादों ने भी नहीं किया था पर हां वो चीज़ ऐसी थी कि उनके रुतबे और मिजाज़ केमुताबिक थी. जी हां वो थी एक तलवार. आप सोचते होंगे कि कौन सी बडी बात है ,पर थी बडी बात और नहीं थी तो बनाई जा सकती थी.

सौदा हुआ और आनन फानन में तलवार नवाब की कोठी में आ गयी और दीवानखाने की दीवार पर सजा दी गई. कहा गया कि ये बडी नायाब और बेशकीमती तलवार है जो नवाब साहब को  अपने पुर्खों से मिली है. अब तलवार लोहे की और नौकर नवाब के कौन केहता कि नहीं ऐसा नहीं है या ये सरासर झूट है.नवाब साहब के वफादार नौकर चाकर एकदम इस खबर को मशहूर करने में लग गये कि कोठी में एक ऐसी नायाब चीज़ है कि जिसके देखे बगैर अगर अल्ला मियां को प्यारे हो गये तो समझो गये दोनों जहान से. लिहाज़ा लखनऊ की गलियों में एक वलवला सा उठ्ठा और तमाम लोग कोठी की ओर रोज़  कूच  करने  लगे. तलवार जितना देखने की नहीं उतना सुनने की चीज़ थी और वो इसलिये कि नवाब साहब खुद उसके जलवों की  दास्तान आने वालों को पेश किया करते थे. देखते ही देखते तलवार लखनऊ की  शान  बन गयी. ये वो तलवार थी जिसमे बेश्कीमती हीरे और जवहेरात लगे हुए थे, ये वो तलवार थी जिससे नवाब साहब के मरहूम दादा जान ने कम से कम सैकडों दुशमनों को  मौत से जलवागर करवा दिया था,ये वो तलवार थी जिसे मलिका ए इंग्लिस्तान किसी कीमत पर हथियाना चाहेती थीं, ये वो  तलवार थी जिसने ना जाने कितनी बार लखनऊ की इज़्ज़त और अस्मत को लुटने से  बचाया था, ये वो तलवार थी जिसे आखों से लगा कर होठों से चूमना  हर शहरी और सच्चे वतन परस्त का फर्ज़ था. ये तलवार पुर्खों की  विरासत और आने  वाली नस्लों की  अमानत थी.

बस यूं समझ लीजे कि दीदार ए काबा के बाद अगर कुछ था तो वो था दीदार ए तलवार ए मिराजुद्दौल.और इसके लिये कहीं दूर जाने की जहमत भी नहीं उठाना थी.

पर अनहोनी को भला  कौन टाल सकताहै ? वही हुआ जो ना होना चाहिये था – नवाब  की  तलवार चोरी हो गयी.

सुस्त शहरों मे सनसनी जल्दी फैलती है और ये तो लखनऊ था. चोरी की खबर ऐसी बिजली की तरह चमकी कि तमाम शहर के बाशिंदों मे करंट दौड गया. एक एक करके लोग मिजाज़पुर्सी के लिये नवाब की कोठी में  आने लगे.

सबसे पहले तशरीफ लाये लाला गनपत राय. मुंह लटकाये कुछ इस तरह से दीवानखाने में दाखिल हुए कि जैसे अभी अभी समूची रियासत अंग्रेज़ों के नाम कर आये हों.खैर लखनऊ में गम मनाने का भी एक सलीका हुआ करता है. ये नहीं कि लगे छाती पीट पीट के चिल्लाने. आहिस्ता से करीब आकर अपने पानदान से निकाल कर तम्बाक,ज़र्दे,केसर और ज़ाफरान वाली गिलौरी पेश की जाती है और जब आप बाकायदा यूं शरीक़ हो जायें तो हाथों में हाथ लेकर पूछा जाता है कि ‘ मियां ये कैसे हुआ ?’

यही नफासत है जो हम लखनऊ  वालों को दूसरो तो बेसलीका, जाहिल और गवांर समझने पर मजबूर कर देती है.

बहरहाल ये बातें सीखने में तो आपकी की कई नस्लें गुज़र जायेंगी सो हम किस्से को आगे बढाते हैं. तो लाला ने जब रसमन नवाब का हाथ अपने हाथों मे लिया और इस हिमाकत का हाल पूछा तो नवाब की आंखे डबड्बा आईं. ये भी ज़रूरी था वर्ना लाला को लगता कि हमारे हाल पूछने में वो गर्मी वो शिद्दत नही थी जो होना चाहिये थी.रुंधे गले से पान को कोने में दबाते हुए नवाब ने अर्ज़ किया:

अमां कल रात जब सोने गये तो यहीं इसी दीवार पर टंगी थी पर जब सुबह उठे  तो क्या देखते है कि तलवार गायब है.

यहीं  तो चूक गये आप ” लाला ने फरमाया.” हम  तो आपको निहायत ज़हीन और काबिल समझते थे पर आपने तो हमें अपनी राय बदलने पर मजबूर कर दिया.अब देखिये ये कोई मामूली चीज़ तो थी नहीं कि दीवार पर खुला टांग दिया और सो  गये.पुर्खों की अमानत को भला यूं संभाला जाता है. पर वही बात है कि जो नियामत इंसान को नाहक़ मिल जाती है वो उसकी कद्र नहीं समझ पाता.काश ये विरासत हमें बक्शी गयी होती तो आखों से चूम  कर माथे से लगाते .बंदर क्या जाने अदरख का स्वाद…….

अब नवाब खामोश न रह सके और ज़रा तुनक कर बोले ‘ लाला आप अपने जामे से बाहर आ रहे हैं.’ लाला ने बात संभाली ‘अरे आप तो यूं ही खफा हो गये ,हम तो चोर के लिये कह रहे थे. जाके बेच देगा किसी ऐरे गैरे को औने पौने कहीं नक्खास वक्खास में’. नवाब सोचने लगे बला जहां से  आयी थी वहीं पहुंच जायेगी,कौन बडी बात है.

खैर  लाला को जैसे तैसे रवाना  कर के अभी  नवाब  ने  एक  गिलास खस  का  शर्बत तलब ही किया था  कि  मुंशी  टेकचन्द  की आमद  हुई. आते  ही सबसे पेहले  तो हजरत ने  शर्बत पर  अपना हक़ जमा दिया और फिर  दाग दिया वही अशलील सवाल – मियां ये हुआ कैसे ? नवाब के  जी में  तो आया कि कह दें कि  खुदा का शुक्र  है कि तलवार चोरी हो गयी नहीं तो आप का कत्ल तो आज हमारे  हाथों  तय थे. पर क्या करते लखनवी  तेह्ज़ीब का बोझ नवाब के दिल ओ दिमाग से होते हुए अब उनके  वजूद पर्  कुछ इस तरह  भारी हो  चुका था कि चाहते तो भी उसे  उतार कर फेंक नहीं  सकते थे. मुस्करा कर बोले ‘ साहब क्या बताएं बुरा वक़्त बता कर तो आता नहीं  और हमारी फितरत भी कुछ यूं  है कि  सब पर  यकीन  कर लेते हैं. इतना एह्तियात तो हमनें  बरता था कि शाम को सोने से पेहले तलवार जो यूं तो दीवार पर सजी रेहती थी हमनें अपने  सिरहाने रक्खी और सो गये. हकीम साहब ने फर्माया था कि लोहा तकिये के नीचे रखने से बुरे  ख्वाब भी  नहीं  आते’. ये कह कर नवाब  ने सोंचा कि  अगर मुंशी मेरी कहानी  के कायल हो गये तो बस कल नौकरों  एक एक रुक्का लिख कर जारी कर देंगे और कह देंगे कि भई  ये रहा किस्सा  ए तलवार अब हमारी जान छोडो.

पर  वो गलत थे एकदम गलत …

मुंशी  बोले – अमां  ये क्या हरकत कर दी आपने हुज़ूर ! हम तो  आपको तमाम लखनऊ शहर की  दिमागी तरक्की  का  मुहाफिज़  समझते थे और आपने तो बस हमारा सारा भरम ही तोड  दिया. मियां इतने  सयाने तो आज  कल चौक के लौंडे हो गये हैं , जानते हैं  कि तिमारदारों  कि  कौम अब भरोसे के  कतई काबिल नहीं  रही. वो ज़माने  हवा हो गये जब वफादार मालिक की एक  नज़र पर जान पेश कर दिया करते थे. अब तो ज़रा चूक हुई नहीं कि ये लोग आखों  से सुरमा उतार लें. और् फिर  ये तो तलवार थी वो भी खानदानी –  हीरे जवाहेरात उसमें जडे हुए , मशहूर औ मारूफ , बच्चा बच्चा जिसके किस्से बयान  करते नहीं  थकता और आप हैं  कि बस यूं  ही सो गये तकिये के नीचे रख कर ! अरे हकीम साहब का दिल रखने का इतना ही शौक़ था तो बावर्ची खाने से कोई चाकू –  वाकू मंगवा लिया होता या फिर गुलाम को जहमत को जहमत दी होती.आपकी जेहनी खैरियत के लिये हम तोपखाने से किसी मरियल घोडे  की  नाल ले आये होते. दरोगा साहब हमारे जानने वालों मे शरीक़ होते हैं और हम अगर  आपकी  दिमागी हालत का वास्ता देते तो हमें  यकीन है कि वो हमें  मायूस न  करते’. नवाब बहुत झुंझलाये , समझ गये कि  मुंशी भिगो भिगो के जूती साफ  कर रहे हैं पर क्या करते तलवार और तेह्ज़ीब का मामला था.

डांट  कर नौकर तो ललब किया – ‘अमां फुक्कन मिया मुंशी साहब कोई खाली बगैर काम काज के नहीं  हैं  कि सारा दिन आपका इंतेज़ार करते रहें. अगर काहिली छोड  कर कुछ पका लिया हो तो लेते आइये वर्ना कम से कम एक कप चाय ही पेश कर दीजिये जो हम सीलोन से लाये थे’. फिर वो धीरे से बोले – ‘क्या करें सब कम्बखत मुंह लगे हैं सुनते ही नही. ना बात का ढंग है ना काम का सलीका.’ मुंशी समझ गये कि तीर निशाने पर लगा है लगा है और ये बातें नौकरों की जानिब से उन्हें सुनाई जा रही हैं. शराफत और खैरियत दोनों के  मद्दे नज़र उन्होंने ये ही मुनासिब समझा कि वहां से फूट लिया जाये. वैसे भी चौक में लस्सी के  ठेके के लिये बहुत मसाला जमा हो गया था.

नवाब खुश थे.ऊपर  वाले के करम से दोपहर के खाने के वक़्त लोगों ने उन्हें तन्हा छोड  दिया. पर असलियत तो ये थी कि छ्ज्जू की लस्सी की दुकान पर नवाब का मखौल उडाने वालों  की जो महफिल जमी वो दोपहर के खाने तक चलती रही. और आप जानते  हैं कि खाने के बाद तो लखनऊ वाले अगर क़यामत बर्पा हो जाये तो भी ना उठ्ठें. हाल फिलहाल झुटपुटे तलक नवाब को  परेशान करने कोई ना आया.

बुरा वक़ बता कर नहीं आता ये तो ठीक है पर ये बात भी दुरुस्त है कि  बुरा वक़्त आसानी से टलता भी नहीं.अभी  कारिंदे श्म्माओं  को  रौशन कर ही रहे थे कि आगा मीर की ड्योढी से  मिर्ज़ा असलम बेग तशरीफ ले  आये. उनके चांद से चमकते रुख्सार से ये साफ बयां हो रहा था कि दिन भर किसी मटरगश्ती से चूर होकर कुछ ऐसा सोये होंगे कि ख्वाब में में भी ज़ोर ज़ोर से हंस रहे होंगे.ना जाने क्यों पर  नवाब को यकीन था जो नूर  मिर्ज़ा के नूरानी चेहरे से टपक रहा था उसमें उनकें खिल्ली का कतरे खून बनकर तैर रहे थे. मिर्ज़ा को देखते ही वो एकदम चौक्कन्ने हो गये और कुछ ऐसे बैठ गये जैसे कि मिर्ज़ा के वार करते ही उनपर टूट  पडेंगे. मिर्ज़ा ने दीवानखाने में घुसते ही पान पेश किया और बहुत ही अफसोस भरी अलबत्ता रोनी सूरत बना कर कहा -‘हुज़ूर  ये क्या कर दिया. अब लखनअऊ का क्या होगा ‘?

नवाब  अब सब्र की इंतेहां  तक पहुंच चुके थे. उन्हें एक पल ऐसा लगा कि वो मिर्ज़ा का मुंह नोच लेंगे. पर इसे अंजाम देने के लिये ज्यों ही वो हरकत में आये आसमानों से उनकें लखनवी पुर्खों की रूह उन्हें सदाएं देने लगी. कहने लगी कि मिराज़ जो शराफत के पुतलों  का खिताब हमारी नस्लों को अता किया जाता रहा है उसकी तौहीन मत करो. इसे मिर्ज़ा की नादानी और अल्ला की मर्ज़ी समझ कर जज़्ब कर जाओ. जन्नत में तुम्हारी जगह हम पक्की किये रहेंगे. मरता क्या ना करता नवाब ने खुद को खुदा के लिये संभाला और बोले -‘अमां लखनऊ तो तब भी बलंद और क़ायम रहा जब फिरंगी जाने ए आलम ( नवाब वाजिद अली शाह का एक खिताब) को श्हर की सडकों पर लिये घूमते रहे जैसे कि बंदर का खेल हो , ये तो बेचारी एक बेजान , बे जबान तलवार थी.’ नवाब के मिज़ाज़ की तल्खी को मिर्ज़ा भांप गये मगर अब जिस काम को आये थे उसे तो अंजाम देना ही था. सो बोले – ‘हुआ क्या था ???’

नवाब  को ऐसा लगा जैसे वो गश खाके गिर जायेंगे – झूटी तलवार के लुटने की सच्ची दास्तान जिसमे वो आधे अहमक़ थे और आधे शैतान अब उनसे और झेली नही जा रही थी. हाथ कत्ल करने पर अमादा थे पर दिल उन्हें उनकी शराफत का वास्ता देकर रोक देता था. अपनी सारी हिम्मत तलब करके बोले – ‘अरे साहब अब क्या कहें हम तो ये बात अच्छी तरह जानते थे कि तमाम ज़माने की , खास कर कि हमारे नमक हराम नौकरो की नज़र हमारी पुश्तैनी तलवार पर है सो हमने बडे एह्तियात से मयान मे डाल कर तहखाने में  तिंजोरी में सात तालों में बन्द करके रक्खा था. ना जाने कहां से सुल्ताना डाकू के अंडे बच्चे शहर में आ गये है कि वहां से भी उडा ले गये.हम तो केहते हैं मिर्ज़ा अब ये शहर हमारे आपके जैसे शरीफों  के लिये महफूज़ नहीं  रहा. ज़रूरी है कि आप भी ज़रा संभल के रहें.’

मिर्ज़ा  गहरी सोच में डूब गये और कुछ देर बाद दाढी पर हाथ फेरते हुए बोले -‘ नवाब साहब अगर हम आपकी जगह होते तो कभी इतनी ज़ाहिर सी जगह पर इस कदर नायाब चीज़ ना धरते. हम तो साह्ब ऐसी जगह छुपाते कि सात पुश्तें भी सुराग  ना लगा पातीं कि तलवार शाम होते होते ही जाती कहां है.रख देते चावलों के गोदाम में किसे बोरी में छुपा कर. किसका दिमाग इतना चलता कि हमारी होशियारी के  आगे अपनी चला पाता. वो तो ठहरे अकल के पैदल.मुल्ला की दौड मस्जिद तक, तिजोरी का ताला तोडते और अन्दर मिलता हमारे हाथों क लिखा पर्चा – मियां अभी बादाम खाओ, तुम्हारे जैसे लौंडे तो जेब में मोमफली के साथ रखते हैं और गाहे बगाहे चबा जाया करते हैं.’ असलम बेग के चेहरे में शैतान की सूरात साफ दिखायी दे  रही थी.वो आगे बोले –

‘अब  क्योंकि आप हमारे साथ कंचे खेले हैं और पतंग बाज़ी के पैंतरे भी जानते हैं हम समझे कि आप भी हमारी तरह ही तेज़ दिमाग से सोचेंगे.पर हम गलत थे लडकपन की मुराही जवानी की मुकम्मल दिमाग मे तब्दील हो ये ज़रूरी नहीं है. खैर जो हुआ सो हुआ, हम अब रुक्सत चाहेंगे … बडा अफसोस हुआ.’

मुंशी ने तो फिर भी जूते भिगो भिगो कर मारे थे मिर्ज़ा ने तो मारे दस गिने दो. “या अल्लाह ये कैसा फसाद पैदा कर दिया.इससे कभी निजात मिलेगी भी या नहीं.”

अगले  दिन सुबह सुबह दरवाज़े पर फिर दस्तक हुई. नौकरों ने आकर बताया कि कोतवाल साहब हाज़िर होना चाहते हैं कहिए तो लिवा लायें. नवाब क्या केहते – जान गये कि अभी उन्हें जल्दी मौत नहीं  आयेगी.कुछ ही देर मे कोतवाल साहब नवाब  मिराजुद्दौला के हुज़ूर में तशरीफ फर्मा थे. सवाल वही – तलवार कैसे चोरी हो गयी !!!!!!

नवाब मिराजुदौला फरिश्तों जैसे तो थे मगर फरिश्ते नहीं थे. उनमे वो सब कमियां मौजूद थीं जो अक्सर इंसानों में पायी जाती है मसलन गुस्सा , खीज, बदसलूकी,वहशत, दीवानापन ……. नवाब का चेहरा तमतमा गया और वो  जैसे बिराते हुए अपना बयान देने लगे. चिल्ला कर बोले – ‘कोतवाल साहब हुआ यूं  कि हम तलवार से बहुत तंग आ चुके थे सो हमने सोचा कि लाओ आज अपना काम इसी से ताम किये लेते हैं. आव  देखा ना ताव तलवार को अपने सीने में घोंप लिया और बिस्तरे पर लेट गये. सुबह देखा तो हम तो थे पर तलवार ना थी. अब बताइये कि क्या करें ?’

दरोगा जी ज़रा देर तो सकते में आ गये फिर सोचने लगे. थोडी देर बाद तफतीश के लहज़े उन्होंनें कुछ यूं दर्याफ्त किया – ‘आप गलती कर गये , हुआ यूं होगा कि जब आप तलवार को सींसे में घुसेड कर औंधे पडे होंगे तभी चोर आया होगा. उसने आपको बेहोश देखा होगा और सोचा होगा कि देखें सो रहे है या जग रहे हैं.ज़ैसे ही आपको पलटा होगा उसे तलवार की मुठ दिखायी दे गये होगी. उसने सोचा होगा दुनिया भर की चीज़ें लादने से अच्छा ये बेश्कीमत नगीना ही क्यों ना हथिया लिया जाये.तलवार को मुठ पकड कर खींचा होगा और ये जा वो जा.आपने अपने जांबाज़ पुर्खों का नाम लेकर ज़रा ज़ोर और लगाया होता तो आज आप भी शहीद हो चुके होते और आपके मरहूम दादाजान की निशानी भी रह जाती.’

नवाब अब कुछ और सोचने समझने के काबिल ना रह सके थे.आस पास का माहौल सुन्न सा हो गया और दूर किसी कोठे से रियाज़ की आवाज़ आने लगी. गालिब का कलाम था शायद  :

ये कहां की दोस्ती है के बने हैं दोस्त नासेह्, कोई चारागार होता कोई गमगुसार होता

हुए  मर के हम जो रुसवा हुए क्यों ना गर्के दरिया, ना कहीं जनाज़ा उठता ना कहीं मज़ार होता……

~ आहंग

** ये किस्सा बहुत अर्सा पेहले किसी दोस्त नें एक लतीफ के तौर पर शार्ट में सुनाया था. हमें लगा कि लखनऊ के मिजाज़ के साथ ज्यादती हुई है सो यहां अपने ब्लाग पर तफसील से बयान करने की हिमाकत की है.उम्मीद है कि आपको पढ कर मज़ा आयेगा और जो ना आये तो मेरी बला से….!

अपना ही इंतेज़ार किया है मैनें कई शाम …

खुदाया ये बेखुदी कि खुद के साथ बैठ कर

अपना ही इंतेज़ार किया है मैनें कई शाम …

तमाम चेहरों में कौन सा चेहरा है मेरे दोस्त

है खुद से ये सवाल किया मैनें कई शाम…

इस आग के दरिया की मैं भी तो लहर  हूं

सोचा है साहिल पर खडे  रहके मैनें कई  शाम…

ये कैसी कशमकश है ये कैसा जुनूं है

समझा तो नहीं पर सोचा है यही मैनें कई शाम..

एक चांद को तारों से करते बात देखकर

ढूंढा है अपना भी आसमान कई शाम …..

– आहंग

Unexplained……

You seem know all the answers, I am not sure of the  question

You want to know the truth, I am OK with the lies

You want to get to the destination, I revel in the journey

You want to see the light , I explore the darkness as well

You want to be in control , I have lost my sense of bearing

You want to do what’s right, I don’t know what went wrong

You want to be loved by friends, I like my enemies too

You want to be the favorite of Gods, I am devil’s confidant

You want me to be there always, I may or may not be

You want to believe in yourself, I can’t trust my own mind

To you I am arbitrary, to me I’m just unexplained

~aahang

जो मैंने जाना है ……

इस मोड से जाते हैं        

कुछ  सुस्त कदम रस्ते

कुछ तेज़  कदम राहें

इन  तेज़ सी राहों  पर

हम दौड्ते रेह्ते हैं

और जान नहीं पाते

क्या हमने खोया है

कभी  सुस्त  से रस्तों पर

मेरे साथ चलो तुम भी

और देखो वो सब कुछ

जो मैंने  जाना  है  ……

‍‍~  आहंग

200 years of Hazratganj

On my recent trip to Lucknow I was on my way to chowk for some Chikan work shopping.I decided to take the route via governer house to hazratganj and then onwards to clarks awadh hotel, residency and medical college.

Hazratganj is usually crowded in the evenings but I have never seen anything close to the legendary traffic jams of bangalore.I was surprised to see the traffic stuck at the same place for some 15-20 minutes.The reason for this snarl… Hazratganj is getting a face lift for its 200th birthday.A welcome change for all of us who grew up in Lucknow and for whom ganjing was as special as going to Time Square in NY.

Papa’s car has no music system so waiting there for the traffic to make way ,I got carried back in time when this stretch of 1 km represented all that was hot and happening. Hazratganj was not only a market place , it was something to talk about and even flaunt to the poor cousins who visited from not so hep parts of the country.

Personally I have lots of memories and a few of them are quite vivid as if they happened just yesterday. It’s difficult to rank what I liked best but yes what comes to mind quite readily is my monthly, fortnightly and sometimes weekly visits to Mayfair. The cinema hall was a craze among movie lovers in Lucknow as it showed the latest English Movies in the Morning show.You could bump into almost anyone or hope to bump into almost anyone as you put your hand into the ticket window to collect tickets of “Pretty Women’. Another favorite haunt for college goers especially from the science department in Lucknow University was the Marksman restaurant. In those days it had the distinction of serving some  of the best Burgers,Pizzas and Omelette’s.Any given day you could see youngsters pooling in for a ‘dutch’ party to celebrate the last day of exam or some equally important occasion.And yes how can I forget Rovers cafe ?? For 10 bucks you could buy yourself a hot burger with a potato pancake and a slice of onion and cucumber stuffed carefully between the bread. If you were not broke already you could ask for a fanta or a thums up to go along watching the chicks as time stood still.Janpath was another place that allowed a casual stroll and plenty of window shopping.There was a magazine shop at the corner that sold the latest issues of Debo and all my friends would make sure to have a dekko before their Ganjing trip was over. My entire collection of ‘rock’ music was put together at shop called the Rhythm centre which was on the left side as you entered the Janpath premises.They used to record @ rs 2 per song for Hindi and Rs 5 for English.I guess the bias was still there from the times of Britishers and the snob shopkeepers had found a novel way to differentiate the sahebs from the Pariah.I cared for neither.One place that I used to frequent in the evenings was the Chat stall on the upper deck of Janpath. The genesis of being and the power of free will were debated for hours till it did not make sense anymore –  I am not sure if it was the depth of the discussion or the high of Old monk but that’s what it was.

The traffic started moving and I was transponded  back from my reverie. As I sped past the DM’s residence I reminded myself to take the turn and stop by to have Paan at SBI…..somethings will never change.

And it is for these things which will remain ‘unchanged’ I will keep coming back again and again and again !

 

Does God play dice ??

Its a long weekend so I picked up the Original text of ” special and general theory of relativity” which had been pushed back in the Que of “to read” on my table because each time I picked it up I found the contents too abstruse for my tired and drained out mind to comprehend.

I grappled with the text trying to read it from beginning to the end and vice versa.Then I picked up the chapters randomly but the only thing that I could understand was that the concept of time and space and space time has to be clear to understand the general and special theory of relativity to a certain degree.

Also I admit that I was intrigued more by time than by space so I began to read more about how human consciousness has dealt with this invisible fourth dimension that’s just an a priori concept etched deep within our minds or even in our DNA as Robert Persig says in his classic ‘ Zen and the Art of motor cycle maintainence.

In terms of defining time I sifted through numerous statements and the one that best explains the idea comes from science Fiction writer Ray Cummings  :

Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.

This is a very pertinent definition and explains a lot of stuff about time from spiritual, religious,philosophical as well as scientific standpoint.Newtonian concept of linear time assumes that  events happen in a sequence so that the ones that are observed first are ‘past’ and the ones that will be observed later are ‘ future’  taking the observers current position as present.Time travel is therefore a possibility.

Opposed to this view are Leibniz and Immanuel Kant who propose time to be part of our intellectual perception framework  just like space, numbers etc within which we organize and sequence our thoughts so it cannot be measured or traveled for that matter.

In the Critique of Pure Reason , Kant describes time as an intuition that allows us (together with the other intuition,space) to comprehend sense experience.

We think of time as an absolute,flowing and measurable entity because of the inherent notion that ‘our’ time is limited and we exist only between our beginning and end.Just as we don’t say ‘ your space is running out’ we would not say ‘ your time is running out’ if we stop thinking of it as something exaustible with a unidirectional and irreversible flow.

While Christianity believes in Linear time with the beginning at the start of creation by God the other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism etc state that time is cyclical with the wheel of time turns for each individual between birth and extinction.According to the Vedas the universe goes through repeated cycles of creation, sustainance ,destruction and rebirth called the yugas Treta , Dvapar, kaliyug and satyug.Each complete cycle lasts for 4320000 years.

The Concept of Time in Physics :

We have already read Newton’s definition so let’s jump to Einstein.

Einstein, postulated the constancy and finiteness of the speed of light for all observers in his special theory of relativity. He proved that distances appear shorter and time interval appears longer  for events associated with objects in motion relative to an inertial observer.

Einstein showed that if time and space is measured using electromagnetic phenomena (like light bouncing between mirrors) then due to the constancy of the speed of light, time and space become mathematically entangled in the Minkowski space where time is added as the fourth dimension.

This in turn results in Lorentz transformation , which explains how, according to the theory of special relativity, two observers’ varying measurements of space and time can be converted into each other’s frames of reference. It reflects the surprising fact that observers moving at different velocities may measure different distances, time inetrvals, and even different ordering of events.

In the late nineteenth century, physicists encountered problems with the classical understanding of time, in connection with the behaviour of electricity and magnetism. Einstein resolved these problems by invoking a method of synchronizing clocks using the constant, finite speed of light as the maximum signal velocity. This led directly to the result that observers in motion relative to one another will measure different elapsed times for the same event.

According to Einstein, the concept of time depends on the spatial reference frame of the observer, and the human perception as well as the measurement by instruments such as clocks are different for observers in relative motion. The past is the set of events that can send light signals to the observer, the future is the set of events to which the observer can send light signals.

Einstein notes  : “Two  events taking place at the points A and B of a system K are simultaneous if they appear at the same instant when observed from the middle point, M, of the interval AB. Time is then defined as the ensemble of the indications of similar clocks, at rest relatively to K, which register the same simultaneously.”

In Chapter 9 he adds that simultaneity is also relative, i.e., two events that appear simultaneous to an observer in a particular inertial reference frame need not be judged as simultaneous by a second observer in a different inertial frame of reference.

Schrodinger’s Cat paradox :

Quantum physics presents a complex view of the universe. Erwin Schrödinger criticized the theory by posing one of the most famous thought experiments in modern physics.

The quantum model of reality explains particles in terms of probability using wave equations. Instead of a particle being a bouncy ball, it is a described in terms of a superposition of waves that represent its probable states. Erwin Schrödinger complained in his 1935 paper that “the classical concept of state becomes lost,” citing the famous Heisenberg uncertainty principle. To highlight this problem, he posed his now legendary “cat paradox.”

Schrödinger’s Cat

Schrödinger purposed to put a fictional, but no doubt loveable, cat into a box shielded from any outside interference. Inside the box, he also places a radioactive substance, “so small,” says Schrödinger, “that perhaps in the course of an hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none.” Finally, he inserts a mechanism consisting of a Geiger counter connected to a bottle of poison. If the counter detects the radioactive decay of the atom, the mechanism breaks the flask of poison and poor kitty dies. If the counter does not detect the decay, then the cat lives.

What is the point of this experiment? As Schrödinger explains, the quantum function describing the state of the system would “express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.”

Most Physicists resolve the Schrodinger’s Cat paradox by making distinction between microscopic phenomena which are described as a strange mixture of atomic states as regards to their position in time ( Hiesenberg’s  Uncertainty Principle), and macroscopic objects, in this case a cat.The standard resolution of the paradox assumes that the crucial difference between microscopic events ( collision of atomic particles) and macroscopic events spreading of smoke in a room is that microscopic events are reversible in time , while  macroscopic events are not.While a film of two atoms colliding looks normal whether it runs forward or backward in time , a film of smoke coming out of an incense stick will makes sense only if the smoke is spreading out not collapsing back into the incense.Thus , macroscopic events fix “the arrow of time” in a direction that increases disorder.Physicists say that the entropy of macroscopic events ( the measure of disorder) fixes the direction of time and also makes the distinction between reversible microscopic events and irreversible macroscopic events.

It is important to understand that Consciousness is not the essential feature of making an observation.The transfer of information which implies an increase in entropy and irreversibly of time is the basis of observation.The irreversible transfer of information can be in the form of memory cells in our brain or photographic film.

But how do we remember the sequence of events in our consciousness is a mystery as unlike the Photo film the brain cells are again like atomic particles and follow random motion where time can be reversed or it certainly does not have the arrow of time associated with the macroscopic systems ???

There are other paradox which exist with respect to our interface with time apart from the effect of psychotropic substances such as the kappa effect wherein the journey that covers more distance will appear to take longer than the journey covering less distance, even though they take an equal amount of time. Practically speaking, a faster journey over more distance will still appear more time-consuming than a slower journey over less distance.

It is a known phenomenon that long periods of time appear to pass faster as people grow older. Stephen Hawking, suggests that the judgement of time is a function of age, according to a ratio – Unit of Time : Time Lived.

For example, one day to an eleven-year-old person would be approximately 1/4,000 of their life, while one day to a 55-year-old would be approximately 1/20,000 of their life. According to such an interpretation, a day would appear much longer to a young child than to an adult, even though the measure of time is the same.

Time Travel,Temporal Paradox and Parallel Universe’s :

Time travel is the concept of moving backwards and/or forwards to different points in time,just as we do in space, and different from the normal “flow” of time to an observer on earth. It hypothesizes that all points in time – in past and in future “persist” in some way. Time travel at different rates into the future, known as time dilation, as predicted by the theory of relativity, and has been experimentally verified for small amounts of time. Travelling forward for larger amounts of time is, so far, physically difficult, requiring large amounts of energy. Travelling backwards in time has never been verified, presents many theoretic problems, and may be an impossibility.

A central problem with time travel to the past is the violation of causality , should an effect precede its cause, it would give rise to the possibility of temporal paradox.Also known as time paradox , it presents a paradoxical situation in which a time traveler causes, through actions in the past, the exclusion of the possibility of the time travel that allowed those actions to be taken.

The typical example is that of the grandfather paradox, wherein a time traveler goes back in time and kills his grandfather before his mother or father is conceived. It is a paradox because if this occurs, he will never be born, and therefore never be able to travel back in time to kill his grandfather, thus allowing himself to be born.

One hypothesis is that there are an infinite number of universes, one for each possibility. Here, should the time traveller kill his grandfather, one universe would have a live grandfather, and another universe would have a dead one. Failing that, the universe would annihilate itself, for such a paradox would defy its laws.

I think it’s time for me to go get a drink and alter my perception of time – slow or fast , past or future I shall let you know once I come back to consciousness.

अपना ही इंतेज़ार किया है मैनें कई शाम

वाह री बेखुदी कि तेरे पास बैठ कर ,

तेरा ही इंतेज़ार किया है मैनें कभी कभी ….

I heard this couplet a few days back and I am not able to get it out of my mind for some reason.While it suggests missing someone else at one level, to me it is more of an expression of losing touch with your own self in the midst of all the commotion that our lives have become.

My version will come something like this :

खुदाया ये बेखुदी कि खुद के साथ बैठ कर

अपना ही इंतेज़ार किया है मैनें कई शाम …

तमाम चेहरों में कौन सा चेहरा है मेरे यार

खुद से ये सवाल किया है मैनें कई शाम …

Between work,home and everything else in between there’s hardly any space or time left to connect within. All you do must be done and all relationships are your own asking but really how or what justifies existence itself.Time and again I ask myself : is this something I want to do ? Is this something I like to do ? Is this my calling ? and cautiously avoid the answer.

इतने हिस्सों मे बट गया हूं मैं , मेरे हिस्से में कुछ  बचा ही नहीं

To continue in this state is madness and I know it. But I somehow participate in it for lack of sanity….trudging the endless road to nowhere.

Waiting ,perhaps looking forward, for the station where I can offload myself .

Off I will go to a land where it all makes sense finally or may be not !

~ आहंग्

पथिक का प्रेम गीत…

मेरे आने पर देखो कैसे तुम्हारी आखें चमक गयीं

लगता है जाने पर मेरे सबसे ज़्यादा तुम रोओगे

मुझको बाहर तक पहुंचाने सब ही आए तुम ना आए

लगता है तन्हाई मे मेरी मेरे  साथ  तुम्ही  होओगे

मेरा गीत सुना  सब जागे  तुमको  कैसे नींद आ गयी

लगता है अब इंतज़ार में सारी रात नहीं सोओगे

सबने मुझसे  पूछे किस्से और तुम थे चुपचाप खडे

लगता है मन की मेहफिल का अंतिम गीत तुम्ही होओगे

रामअवतार त्यागी जी रचना  ‘ सबसे ज़्यादा तुम रोओगे ‘ के भावों को मैंने अपने स्तर से प्रस्तुत करनी की कोशिश की है. आशा है आप तक पहुंचेगी …… आहंग

NREGA – Good politics Bad business

While the government is basking in the success of the NREGA (National rural emaployment Guarentee Scheme) and the opposition is crying fowl from the rooftops,the real  impact of this scheme on the economy is something no one seems to be bothered about.

Many years ago IBM computers was in the dumps and it had to do something drastic to turn around its dwindling fortunes.They had a huge workforce which they could neither fire right away nor could keep for always in its current form.Driven to the wall the team at IBM told its employees that we would like to retain everybody so long as they can prove themselves to be employable.This simply meant that there are no free lunches and whoever contributes can be a part of the party.This simple idea turned out to be one of the most important case studies in HR history as it brought back IBM computers from the brink of bankruptcy to the centre stage of IT revolution as we know it.

Professionals like us  have no issues with sharing our destiny with our less fortunate brethren but the only worry is that can we sustain it for long.If the dog starts biting the hand that feeds or in softer words if we cut the branch on which we are perched its going to be sad tale of foolhardy for all of us.On one hand the money is being ill spent and on the other the sources from which it came are being attacked at the same time.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/in-opposition-camp-too-delays-mismanagement/259701/0

Lets look at some very compelling situations which I am putting here not for starting a debate but to sound a red alert for ‘fools’ who keep living in their own  paradise :

1.Today you go to any of the Industrial cities such as Ludhiana , Moradabad, Tirupur ,Kanpur,Cochin etc and there’s one thing you will find common on all factory gates – a sign declaring labour required for packing,polishing stiching,cutting,weaving and so on.So what’s new ? well there is no labour !

And where have they all gone ?? Nowhere.They have just not turned up.Who would bother to lead a harsh life of hard work when you can enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor for free at home.A share has to be given away in bribes but that’s OK.I did not do anything do deserve it anyways.

2.NREGA may be a great scheme but its implementation is seriously flawed.Has the government come up with a white paper on how the country has benefited by keeping the nations working hands tied up to their place of origin.Displacement to urban centers could have been a problem but is this the right solution.What are the metrics applied and how the performance of the workers,supervisors and babus is being measured.NREGA is supposed to build check dams,community roads,wells etc but how have the parameters for achievement been set against the work being done by a private contracter.

3.In order to be ’employable’ by world markets our industry needs to be competitive.But we have floating exchange rates compared to China’s fixed ones,we have all kinds of industrial policies that hinder free flow of men and material,we have excise duty which encourages export of raw material and discourages export of finished goods,We have labor laws that were fit for the 1950’s but no one has bothered to change them,we have the lowest productivity of workers and highest cost of transport and duties.

4.India is touted to be on the growth path as more than 70% of its population is under 35 years of age and we have the largest pool of working population.But with schemes like NREGA we must question if the working hands are getting utilized optimally.Whats the differential when you have a skilled tailor work on a machine producing merchandise for exports vs. the same guy working in his village and digging a canal.

5.Those who earn much more that what NREGA offers and have skills which are far beyond will continue to rise on the economic path but what is the government doing to upgrade the skills of those who work for NREGA ??What about those who have under utilized skill sets.I am sure their numbers far exceed those of the few software engineers we keep talking about.

6.If the factories cannot produce goods for shortage of labour or become uncompetitive in world market place who will take the responsibility and how will the deficit in export earnings be made good.What are our options and what are we doing about mechanizing processes that are labor intensive.Is the government giving incentives to SSI’s and Exporters so they do not suffer due to lack of cheap labor which has been their competitive advantage for so long.

I am not predicting a doomsday scenario here but if you go to one of the centers of export excellence above you will be as aghast as I was when I saw half the units either closed already or on the verge of it.

When last season our supplier in Ludhiana told us that he can’t supply the goods due to shortage of labour we went to an importer and bought Chinese sweaters.I wonder what will hold the buyers in other countries to act any differently if we in India continue on this path of self destruction.

The Link below to NREGA website does not measure any of the stuff I have mentioned but interestingly shows the lowest levels of Funds utilization and sanctioned in states like Goa,Himanchal  and Uttarakhand which have done far better on the industrialization and improving quality of life for their people.

http://nrega.nic.in/netnrega/dologin/MPR_fin_rep_cmp.aspx?state_code=24&fin=2011-2012&Digest=9sBuBxgG+sPk1eZzpM7%2foA

Smile…You are in Lucknow !

Domes of Asafi Masjid at Bara ImamBara as seen from Teele waali masjid. Asafi ,as it was built by Asif ud Daula.

Teele Waali masjid stands next to Laal Pul(Red Bridge)on the banks of Gomti river.

The girl looking at you is Mushrat who is getting trained in the art of chikan kari under the expert eyes of her mother who is sitting besides her.

Chikan work is painstaking and tedious.Typically the girls will work for 6 hours every day for 26 days and they get paid just Rs 1000($25) for this.

A saree with intricate work on chiffon can take as many as 6 months to complete ! Several artisans work on the same piece day in and day out till it gets completed.I am sure that by the time its ready to be given back they form a kind of bond with the piece of clothing on which they have worked ceaselessly together.

The monotony of the job at hand is broken by friendly banter and chit chat among the women folk who will discuss their family woes and financials with their co workers.
Chewing Paan ( betel leaf and nuts) adds flavor and color to an otherwise dull scene.

The motifs are printed with Indigo blue so they can be washed off after the embroidery is done.They say that Chikan pieces face most testing conditions and travel from one place to another , much more than they would ever, once they are sold off.

Happiness is a state of mind for this poor Zardozi worker who takes pride in his work even though his remuneration is a pittance.

The back side of Roomi Darwaaza.The Rumi Darwaza, which stands sixty feet tall, was modeled after the Sublime Porte (Bab-iHümayun) in Istanbul.Made by Asif ud daula it has now become an icon for Lucknow.

Rumi gate as seen from Asafi mosque.The Rumi gate is named after Rumi the great Sufi saint of Turkey.The landscape around the gate was once very beautiful. In fact this was once the entrance to the walled city area of Lucknow. The gateway has been mentioned in various sources but the most famous one is considered to be the report published by one George Russell who worked as a reporter of The New York times in mid 19th century. Russell, who accompanied the victorious British Army in 1857 had called the stretch of road from Rumi Darwaza to Chattar Manzil the most beautiful and spectacular cityscape that he had ever seen, better than Rome, Paris, London or Constantinople.

That’s the Symbol of Oudh Kingdom which has now been adapted by the UP government as its official State Emblem.

Legend has it that during Akbar’s time Sheikh Abdur Rahim went to Delhi to seek his fortune.He returned to Lucknow as the Governor of Awadh and on his way back encountered the lucky sign of Mahi Muratib, while crossing the Ganges.Known as the Order of the Fish (“fish dignity” in Persian and Arabic), an honorary badge or dignity, shaped like a fish it is said to signify youth, bravery, perseverance and strength. Since then it was to be found on all great buildings and official documents as the royal insignia of the Nawabs of Awadh.

Second of the two gates which lead to Bara Imam bara.Notice the 4 balconies which are quite similar to those found at hawa mahal in Jaipur.

The front facade of Bara Imam bara built by Nawab Asif ud Daula who is buried here too.The design of the Imambara was obtained through a competitive process. The winner was an architect Kifayatullah, who also lies buried in the main hall of the Imambara. It is rather interesting that the sponsor and the architect lie buried besides each other.

The building was instituted to provide work to the famine stricken subjects of the Nawab.It is said that in day time ordinary people would construct the building and in the night kings and Noblemen would demolish the structure.

During this time the saying became famous :

जिसको ना दे मौला उसको दे आसिफ उद दौला

( whom the Gods don’t provide for is looked after by Asif ud Daula)

When courtiers brought this to the notice of Asif-ud-Daula, he was not very exactly pleased. His take was :

” आप मुझे मेरे मौला से ऊपर का दर्ज़ा नहीं दे सकते.ये गलत है.करनेवाला तो खुदा है, इंसान तो बस एक ज़रिया है.गर केहना ही है तो कहिये : जिसको दे मौला , उसी को दे असिफुद दौला (Asifud Daula  provides for those whom the God looks after)”


The Hussainabad Clock Tower, the tallest Clock Tower in India, is one of the finest examples of British Architecture in India. The 221-foot tall structure was erected by Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider to mark the arrival of Sir George Couper, 1st Lieutenant Governor of United Province of Avadh in the year 1887 at a cost of Rs. 1.75 lakhs. The contract for constructing the clock tower was given to James William Benson, the royal clock maker in England who made clocks for the queen of England.

The Clock Tower in Lucknow reaches upto a staggering height of 221 feet and is the tallest Clock Tower in India. The Clock tower also has the biggest fitted clock . Roskell Payne designed this lofty structure of 67 meter high and it reflects Victorian-Gothic style structural designs. Gunmetal is used for building the clock parts. It’s gigantic pendulum has a length of 14 feet and the dial of the clock is designed in the shape of a 12-petalled flower and bells around it. Sadly the clock has been dysfunctional for decades now.

Notice the Swan Bird at the very top which was probably a weathervane and gave the direction of the wind. Recently the head fell off and it is said to have weighed 13 Kgs !!

On a clear day one can see the city of  Cawnpore (Kanpur)from atop of this tower !!

The Chotta Imam baara was a place of worship for the begums who resided in the near by Chattar Manzil palace.As you enter from the elaborate gate there is the Shahi Hammam where the begums  performed Wuzoo ( cleansing before namaz).The Water came through pipes from Gomti River to the Husainabad Tank from where it was fed  to different areas of the royal residence.

If you are wondering about the Chain in the hands of this statuette ,its for conducting electricity in case of a weather storm so the buildings are safe.

The gate of Chotta Imam Bara.Notice the Anglo Gothic and Turkish design elements in its architecture.The arches are Turkish as found in the Taj Mahal and the Spires are Gothic as you would see in churches.

The Husainabad pond.It is said that when cornered by the british forces Sultana Daaku(bandit) jumped from the 67 meter high clock tower into this pond and escaped.My guide told me that these were stories concocted by the servants of the Noblemen to put the kids to sleep.Another version holds that he jumped straight away to his horseback from the top of the tower and escaped.I believe in both of them !

Wajid Ali Shah..the grandest of the Nawabs of Oudh.Known for his interest in fine arts he was himself a great poet and composer.Here are the lyrics of his famous thumri composed in raag Bhairavi:
बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो ही जाए
बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो ही जाए
चार कहार मिल, मोरी डोलिया सजावें (उठायें)
मोरा अपना बेगाना छूटो जाए | बाबुल मोरा …
आँगना तो पर्बत भयो और देहरी भयी बिदेश
जाए बाबुल घर आपनो मैं चली पीया के देश | बाबुल मोरा …
It was predicted that he would become a jogi and his poetry deeply reflects this state of mind.Another one of my favorite from Shatranj ke Khiladi :

तरप तरप सगरी रैन गुजरी , कौन देस गयो सांवरिया

भर आयीं अंखियां मदवारी , तरस तरस गयी चुनरिया ,

तुम्हरे घोडन मोरे द्वार से जो निकसे ,सुध भूल गयी मैं बांवरिया

तरप तरप सगरी रैन गुजरी , कौन देस गयो सांवरिया….

Another gem that he recited to his friends and followers at the time of leaving Lucknow for Metia Burj in Calcutta :

दरो दीवार पे हसरत से नज़र करते हैं , खुश रहो अहले वतन हम तो सफर करते हैं

With a yearning gaze I look at the doors  and the wall

I have to leave now but may God bless you all….

Noted Columnist Amaresh Mishra writes –

Wajid Ali Shah was an unusual man of an unusual time – when everything was possible he did the impossible.He preserved for posterity what it meant to be a true Asian in th best and worst of periods.Beneath the rapidly spreading tentacles of Western might and culture he upturned the very meaning of tradition to create a concept of Asiatic freedom.This was freedom that followed the mind and the heart according to the need of the situation.It did not take anything for granted believing in transitory nature of all phenomena.And yet it captured every moment in its entirety.

Wajid Ali Shah, in this form and content , was the greatest enemy of the British.He was the exact opposite of their puritanical,positivist, pugnacious and metaphysical value system.When they called him indolent , he involved the people in his sensual pleasures.When they termed in capricious,he shamed the British with his Humanism.Charged with over indulgence he institutionalized his love for Music,dance and Women.( The Parikhana was a hostel for girls training in Music and Dance)

The below conversation between Resident Outram and Captain Weston gives us a flavor of the paradox Wajid Ali Shah was.Not only his friends but his enemies too liked him.

Wajid Ali Shah gave Kathak its present form,invented several new ragas,wrote and composed Khayals and Thumris which his subjects embraced as their own and sang them in the streets of Lucknow.

He also invented Rahas a  blend of Urdu and Raas Lila of Brij which became the basis of the Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb.During his time the Hindus and Muslims blended together as One and it would have been difficult to convince either of them of a different way of life.

When his Mother the Queen of Awadh left for  London to plead with the Queen of England to give his Masnad back, the streets and lanes of Awadh cheered and prayed for their Jan e  Alam ( one who is loved by the whole world) :

हज़रत जाते हैं लन्दन , हम पर क्रुपा करो रघुनन्दन

( Our king is going to London,Help us O lord Rama)

The socio cultural fabric had Hindus and Muslims as its warp and weft interwoven in a manner that the hues of differentiation simply diffused to create something wondrous and Joyful.Holi and Diwali were Occasions of celebration and so was Id.Muslims composed Bhajans and Geets while Hindus wrote Ghazals and Nazms , quality and Bhaav being the only creteria.Same was the case of trade and commerce – Brahmins made sweets as they were good at it and making Itr was a Muslim domain as they did it better.Pandit and Maulvi engaged in debates on Ethics and religion not in a duel for one upmanship but to understand the true nature of creation and the beings in it.

Chattar Manzil palace by the banks of Gomti river which used to the abode of the Queens of the nawabs of Oudh.It now houses the prestigious Central Drug research institute which was inaugurated by PM Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1951 to pioneer drug research in India.

The famous Begum Hazrat Mahal resided at Chattar Manzil Palace and led the revolt against the British from here by appointing her 10 year old son as the Monarch.Her tomb is still there at Begum Hazrat Mahal Park which is home to many an event especially the Lucknow Mahotsav which has now moved Venue to a place outside the city.

I am sorry for not being able to capture many other monuments of this great city and also for the random nature of narration.You may enjoy being an aimless wanderer as much as I have while taking pictures and talking to folks on the city streets.

** All Pictures from my SONY cyber Shot

मेरे बेटे के नाम ..

सात समन्दर पार से                                                

दुनिया के बाज़ार से

जब मैं कल अपने घर आया

देरे रात थी सब सोये थे

तुमको भी सोता पाया

यूं तो हमेशा यूं होता है

मैं तुमको दुबका लेता हूं

पर उस पल ना जाने क्यों

लेट तुम्हारे पास लग यूं

कि मैं तुम में सिमट गया हूं

छोटे से सीने से लग कर

मेरी आंखें भीग गयीं

एक एक पल में ही जैसे

कितनी सदियां बीत गयीं

उठती गिरती सांसों का

एक अजब एहसास थे तुम

मैं ही तुम से दूर गया था

मेरे कितने पास थे तुम

वक़्त का चरखा डोलेगा

और निर्बल हो जाऊंगा मैं

पास तुम्हारे मेरे बेटे

खुद को पाने आऊंगा मैं

~ By Aahang

अनवरत

मद्धम गति से बेहती नदी

चीर देती है पहाड का सीना        

उंचाई से गिरता झरना

पत्थर मे बना देता है

सरोवर मीठे पानी का

समन्दर की छोटी लेहरें

चट्टानों से टकरा टकरा कर

उन्हें रेत में बदल देती है

नन्ही कोपलें जो कल हवा से कांपती थीं

आज विशाल व्रक्ष है जंगल के

निर्जन धरती जो सिर्फ सूर्य के पीछे भागने पर बाध्य थी

आज मोक्क्ष प्राप्त कर ईश्वर बनने वालों को पालती है

हम बंधें हैं मन और शरीर के बंधन में

आशा निराशा रात दिन जीवन मरण

पर प्रक्रुति इस चक्र के परे है

गलत है जो  केहता है कि प्रक्रुती निष्ठुर है

वो तो  धैर्यवान ,निष्पक्ष , निर्लिप्त , अडिग है

स्व्धर्म रत है, अनवरत है

~ By aahang

एक और शाम

We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust ~ Rumi

एक और शाम

खालीपन , मैं और जाम

कल से फिर ज़िन्दगी वही

घर, दफ्तर …. काम

पैसा , रुपया, रिश्तेदारी

जीना भी एक ज़िम्मेदारी

कैसी मोहब्बत कौन सा प्यार

खुद को है लम्हा दुशवार

रोज़ रात को तुम आते हो

सपना बन कर छा जाते हो

तुमको छू लूं ओ मेरे तारे

तुम लगते हो सच , और प्यारे

~ By Aahang

ब्रिजेश जी

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe ~ Albert Einstien

ब्रिजेश जी से मेरी पेहली मुलाक़ात उस वक़्त हुई जब मैं नया नया देहली में आया था.  एक प्रतिष्ठित प्रबंधन संस्थान का उत्पाद ना होने का लांछन अपने ललाट पर लिये मैं दफ्तर से दफ्तर धक्के खा रहा था. उन्हीं दिनों एक सज्जन ने मेरी स्थिती पर तरस खा कर मुझे एक बहुराष्ट्रिय कंपनी में मैनेजर के पद पर नौकरी पर रख लिया. मैं वक़्त का मारा था और सही मायने में मैनेजर बननें के काबिल नहीं था और उन साहब की कंपनी को सिवा उनके कोई बहुराष्ट्रिय क्या राष्ट्रिय भी नहीं मानता था. खैर ये तय था कि एक दूसरे के घाव को हम में से कोई नहीं कुरेदेगा और हम परस्पर सौहार्द बनाये रखेंगे.

सो जान में जोश और मन में ललक लिये मैं पेहले दिन दफ्तर में दाखिल हुआ जो कि एक फैकट्री को आफिस की शकल देनें की एक नाकाम कोशिश से ज़्यादा कुछ नहीं था.ज़ो एक वस्तु उस जगह पर अंतरराष्ट्रिय सी थी वो वे सज्जन खुद थे और वो भी इसलिये क्योंकि उनका 25 साल पुराना पासपोर्ट उनकी जवानी का मखौल उडाते हुए ऐसा केहता था. और यहीं मेरी मुलाकात श्री श्री 1008 ब्रिजेश जी से हुई.

छूटते ही ब्रिजेश जी ने नये रंगरूट यानि कि मुझे, गियर में ले लिया. नीली लिखने वाली कलम के अभाव में ज्यों हि मैंने हरी स्याही की कलम से हस्ताक्षर करनें चाहे ब्रिजेश जी उठ खडे हुए और गरजे :

ये क्या कर रहे हो

साइन कर रहा हूं . क्यों ?

नये नये आये हो और पेहले ही दिन नौकरी से हांथ धो बैठोगे

मैं कुछ  समझ न पाया और सवालिया निगाहों से उन्हें निहारनें लगा.

यहां सिर्फ नोएल ( कंपनी के मालिक जिनका वर्णन मैं कर चुका हूं) हरे कलम से साइन करता है.

और अगर कोई और करे तो ? मैंने ललकारा.

तो क्या नौकरी गयी.

मेरा मन घबराया पर वैसे ही जैसे बेटे का बाप की जेब से पैसे निकालते समय घबराता है.

कुछ समय यों ही काम करते बीत गया और फिर जैसे बोरियत को मिटानें के लिये ब्रिजेश जी मेरी ओर मुखातिब हुए और बोले :

सुनो

क्या ? मैने ज़रा खिन्न होकर कहा

ज़रा एक गिलास पानी ले आओ

क़्या !!!! गरजनें की बारी अब मेरी थी

अभी नये आये हो ना. मल्टीनैशनल कल्चर नहीं जानते. क्या एक ऐसोसियेट दूसरे ऐसोसियेट की हैल्प नहीं कर सकता ? बहुत छोटी सोच है तुम्हारी.

मल्टीनैशनल कल्चर गया तेल लेनें.अगली बार मुझसे पानीं लाने को कहा तो बोतल सर पे फोड दूंगा

क्या यार आज कल भलाई का ज़माना ही नहीं रहा. मैंने तो सोचा कि तुम्हारा ओरियटेशन कर दूं और तुम तो मार पीट पर उतर आये.खैर जाने दो मुझे क्या ? याद करोगे जब दिल्ली की प्रौफेशनल लाइफ में फिट नहीं हो पाओगे और ट्रेन में वापस जाने के लिये नई दिल्ली स्टेशन पर खडे होगे.

देखा जायेगा पर मुझसे अगर बकवास की तो ….

इस दिन के बाद ब्रिजेश जी मेरा मिजाज़ खूब समझ गये और देखते ही देखते उनका स्वभाव मेरी तरफ नर्म हो गया. इस बदलाव की एक छोटी सी वजह ये भी थी कि वो मुझे ही रिपोर्ट करनें लगे थे.

हम सभी की ज़िंदगी में एक व्यक्ती अती विशिष्ठ होता है – हम. परंतु ब्रिजेश जी में ये भावना कुछ ज़्यादा ही प्रतिष्ठित थी. ना जानें क्यों पर उन्हें हमेशा ये चिंता सताये रेहती कि लोग मेरे बारे में क्या सोचते होंगे. वो अक्सर इस गम में डूबे रेहते कि आज अगर मैं बाल तिरछे काढ लेता तो फलानी पर मेरा इंम्प्रेशन ज़बर्दस्त पड जाता. हम पूछते कि फलानी कौन ? और वो केहते की वही जो आज टैम्पो में सामने बैठी थी. सिवा एक आह के मेरे दुखी मन से और कुछ संभव न हो पाता था.

इसी कडी में एक दिन कुछ बायर ( माल खरीदनें वाले) अमरीका से हमारी कंपनी के दौरे पर आये. उनमें सबसे गणमान्य व्यक्ती को वो केबिन दिया गया जो हमारी बैठने की जगह के ठीक पीछे था. केबिन वातंकूलित था और चारों ओर से उसमें शीशे लगे थे. मैं दिन भर ब्रिजेश जी की गतिविधियों को ताडता रहा.ज़ानता था कि अनहोनी होने को है. दिन भर एक ऐसे आदमी के सामने बैठना जिस पर इम्प्रेशन जमाने की कोशिश हमारी कंपनी का मालिक तक कर रहा हो ब्रिजेश जी के लिये बहुत था. वो परेशान थे ये तो विदित था पर इतने परेशान इसकी मुझे कल्पना भी नहीं थी.

करीब पांच बजे के आस पास वो मेरे पासआये और बोले – मुझे लगता है कि साला अंग्रेज़ मुझसे चिढ गया है.

भला वो क्यों ? आपने कौन सी उसकी भैंस खोल ली है ?

पता नहीं यार हर आदमी को मैं ही क्यों खटकता हूं जबकि एस दफ्तर में सबसे मेहनती और होनहार अगर कोई है तो वो मैं हूं

इसमें क्या शक़ है पर आपको ऐसा क्यों लग रहा है कि वो आपसे चिढ गय है.

कमीना दिन भर मुझे घूरता रहा और अभी अभी मैंने उसे नोएल से धीरे धीरे कुछ केहते हुए देखा है.

मेरे अंदर का शैतान जाग चुका था.

मैं बोला – बडे दुख की बात है कि अपना साथ यहीं तक था. कंपनी का घोर दुर्भाग्य नहीं तो और क्या है कि आपके जैसा टैलेंटेड और वफादार आफिसर एक अंग्रेज़ भेडिये की बिल्लौरी आखों पर बलिदान कर दिया जाये. आखिर भगवान ने आपसे पूंछ कर तो आपकी शकल बनायी नहीं कि साहब को उसे देख कर ही गुस्सा आ गया.

वो तो सब ठीक है पर किया क्या जाये ? नौकरी तो बचानी होगी.

मैंने सुझाव दिया – आफेंस इस द बेस्ट फार्म औफ डिफेंस. आप भिड जाइये ससुरे से.जो होगा देखा जायेगा … सर फरोशी की तमन्ना अब हमारे दिल में है, देखना है ज़ोर कितना बाज़ू ए कातिल में है.

मेरा ऐसा ही केहते ही ब्रिजेश जी की आंखों में खून तैर गया और वो अंग्रेज़ के बाहर निकलने का इंतेज़ार करने  लगे. शाम हुई और वो समय आ गया जब अंग्रेज़ अपने केबिन से बाहर निकला.मैनें ब्रिजेश जी की ओर देखा … वो सीट पर बैठे बैठे उलट पलट रहे थे.

अंग्रेज़ हमारी ओर बढा तो मैं सच्मुच थोडा घबरा गया कि पता नहीं ब्रिजेश जी ने इशारों इशारों में ही देश के मेहमान के साथ कोई अभद्र व्यवहार तो नहीं कर डाला. पर ऐसा कुछ नहीं था. अंग्रेज़ सज्जन आगे बढा और ब्रिजेश जी के कंधे पर बडे प्यार से हाथ रख कर बोला –

यंग मैन कैन यू प्लीज़ शो मी द लू ( टायलेट) ?

ब्रिजेश जी के अंदर मानो करंट सा दौड गया और वो एक्दम उछल कर उस्के साथ हो लिये. आधे रास्ते पहुंचने पर अग्रेज़ बोला – हे आई कैन सी थे साइन इफ यू आर नाट प्लानिंग टु कम अलांग.

ब्रिजेश जी हर्ष और विस्मय का मिला जुला भाव लिये मेरी ओर आये और बोले – बच गये दोस्त.मैं गुंगुनाने लगा ” दिल के अरमां आंसुओं में बह गए…… ”

अनेकों चमत्कारों से भरे हुए हमारे मित्र ब्रिजेश जी के बारे में एक बात जो और खास थी वो थी उनकी बिना बात चापलूसी करने की अदा. एक तो उनके द्वारा की गयी तारीफ अत्यंत ही प्रकट तौर पर होती थी पर उससे भी भयानक थी उसकी टाइमिंग. किसी ने कहा है :

जिसे दिया था गुलाब का फूल कल मैंने , उसी के हाथ का पत्थर मेरी तलाश में है.

और यही गुल ए गुलाब ब्रिजेश जी खींच कर सामने वाले के मुंह पर मार देते थे.

मिसाल देखिये :

दफ्तर में एक थे मिस्टर क्रिष्नामूर्ती . यथा नाम तथा गुण काले इतने कि हंसते तो ब्लैक ऐंड व्हाइट पिकचर याद हो आती. मोटी सी तोंद इस लूक को काम्प्लिमैंट करती थी और उस पर से उनका ड्रेस सेंस – एक्दम कातिलाना. अगर मौत से बचने की आखरी सूरत उनकी शान में चंद लफ्ज़ केहना होता तो शायद मैं खुशी से खुद्कशी कर लेता.

एक रोज़ जब सुबह सुबह जब क्रिष्नामूर्ती शायद अपनी बीवी से लड कर आफिस में घुसे ब्रिजेश जी उनके निकट गये और बोले – सर आज आप बहुत हैंडसम लग रहे हैं !!

डर के मारे मैंने आंखें बंद कर  ली थी पर जो कुछ मेरे कान में पडा वो अद्भुत था. मिस्टर क्रिष्नामूर्ती खडे हो गये और अपना इंस्पैक्शन कराते हुए बोले :

तो बाकी दिन क्या मय ( मैं इन मलयालम) तुझे शाकाल लगता हूं ??

ब्रिजेश जी किंकर्तव्यविमूढ से एक टक देख रहे थे. शायद उन्हे एहसास हो चुका था कि ईश्वर के द्वारा किये गये काम मे टांग नहीं अडानी चाहिये.

एक और पात्र जो ब्रिजेश जी के अनचाहे गुलाबों से अक्सर घायल होता था वो थे हमारे  जी एम साहब श्री सुरेन्द्र चावला. बात बे बात ब्रिजेश जी अपनी लगावट की अदायें उन पर बिखेरा करते और मैं हमेशा सोचता कि धन्य हैं चावला जी जो सिर्फ मुस्करा कर रह जाते हैं …..या हो सकता है कि मन ही मन उन्हें अपनी झूटी तारीफ सुनने में मज़ा आता हो.पर ऐसा होना अविश्वनिय था.

लेकिन वो केहते हैं ना कि बार बार अपनी तकदीर को आज़माना नहीं चाहिये , पता नहीं कब जवाब दे जाये.  ऐसा ही एक दिन ब्रिजेश जी के साथ हुआ. चावला साहब के जीवन में एक कांटा था – नोएल. सब जानते थे कि जब भी चावला जी उसके कमरे में जाते हैं उनमें हीनता का भाव ऐसा भर दिया जाता है जैसे कि गुब्बारे में हवा. कमरे से बाहर आने के आधे घंटे तक उनसे कोई भी बात करना इस फूले हुए गुब्बारे में सुई चुभोने से कम नहीं था. उस पर कुछ ही दिनों पेहले चावला जी के पिता का देहांत हुआ था और वो बैठे बैठे ही अपने बचपन की यादें ताज़ा कर इमोशनल हो जाया करते थे. कुल मिला पर स्तिथी नाज़ुक पर कंट्रोल में थी.

इन्ही दिनो एक रोज़ जब चावला जी नोएल द्वारा प्रताडित हो कर अपनी सीट पर आकर बैठे ही थे कि ब्रिजेश जी ने उनकी इमोश्नल नीडस को एक्सप्लोएट करने की ठान ली. अपने मुखारबिन्द पर अत्यंत लुभावने भावों को प्रोजैक्ट करते हुए बोले :

सर आपसे कुछ केहना था ..

क्या ??

सर आपके पिताजी मर गये तो आप छुट्टी पर गये थे ना ….( वो ये भी तो कह सकते थे कि पिताजी नहीं रहे पर शायद ब्रिजेश जी शाक थिरैपी का इस्तेमाल करना चाहते थे सो बोले कि पिताजी मर गये)

हां तो ? चावला जी सर उठाये बिना कुछ लिख रहे थे

तो सर हमारा मन आपके बिना बिल्कुल नहीं लग रहा था

अबे उल्लू के पट्ठे !!!! मैं तुम्हारा दिल बेहलाने के लिये दफ्तर आता हूं क्या ??मैं कोई नौटंकी हूं कि मुझे देखे बिना तुम्हारा मन नहीं लग रहा था ? मैं यहां काम करने आता हूं तुम्हारा दिल बेहलाने के लिये नहीं … आपके बिना मन नही लग रहा था ईडियट  !!

मेरा मतलब वो नहीं था सर .. मेरा मतलब था सर की जैसे . ब्रिजेश जी बैक फुट पर आ गये थे.

मैं तुम्हारा मतलब खूब समझता हूं मिस्टर .भाग जाओ नहीं तो …

बेचारे ब्रिजेश जी – चले थे चौबे छब्बे बनने बन के रह गये दूबे.अपना सा मुंह लिये सीट पर आ गये और सैम्पल पैक करने का नाटक करने लगे.

ब्रिजेश जी की एक और खास बात थी.

आप सोचते होंगे कि इतने कमाल एक ही शख्स में कैसे घुस सकते हैं पर घुस गये थे तो मैं क्या करूं ? मैं तो ठहरा सूत्रधार कथावाचक –  ऐसा कैसे हुआ ? वैसा कैसे हुआ ये सब पूछना मेरे अधिकार की परिधी से बाहर है. खैर वो बात जो कि खास थी वो था उनका संगीत प्रेम. उसे वो सबसे छुपाते थे पर ऐसे कि सबको पता चल जाये –

फूल गिरता है उठाते नहीं हो, प्यार करते हो बताते नहीं हो.

य़े शेर ब्रिजेश जी ने नोयेडा की ब्लू लाइन बस के पीछे पढा था और बहुत प्रभावैत हुए थे. मुझे बाद मे पता चला कि उन्होंने इसे संगीतबद्ध करने की चेष्टा भी की थी.

सो एक रोज़ मेरे निकट आये और बोले आओ चलो बा्हर चलें. कार तो लाए हो ना ?

मैने सर हिलाया और अनमना सा उनके साथ चल पडा.

कार में बैठते ही उनके हांथ में एक कैसेट उग आया और उन्होंने उसे मेरे डैक में घुसेड दिया. देखते ही देखते ” घंघरू की तरह बजता ही रहा हूं ” के स्वर पूरे वातवरण को झनझनाने लगे.मैं समझा कि मेरे मित्र का मन आज क्लांत है और वो मुझसे अपनी भावनाएं शैयर करना चाहाता है.पर गलत ……. एक दम गलत. मैं भावनाओं मे बह कर ये भूल गया कि कलेश फैलाने का एकाअधिकार सिर्फ और सिर्फ ब्रिजेश जी को है और कोई अन्य उनकी इस कर्म भूमि में प्रवेश कर ही नहीं सकता .

थोडी देर ये पिटा हुआ गीत सुन कर मैं ऊब गया और मेरे चेहरे पर उभरे भावों को भांप कर ब्रिजेश जी बोले – कैसा लगा ?

मैं बोला – ठीक है. शाम को सुनते तो अच्छा लगता.अभी मूड अलग है

अरे वो नहीं गाना .गाना …

गाने के बारे में ही कह रहा हूं यार

अरे मेरा मतलब गायकी , सिंगर , आवाज़ !!

सिंगर ? अरे किशोर दा हैं तो अच्छा ही गायेंगे ना

वही तो . ये किशोर दा नहीं हैं

मतलब ? तो और कौन है ? ये 100 % किशोर ही हैं

नहीं ये किशोर दा नहीं कोई और है.

कौन ?

इस पर ब्रिजेश जी ज़रा लजा गये और झुकी हुई नज़रों से अपनी तरफ इशारा करने लगे

मैं खेल के मूड में आ गया. अरे नहीं मैं मान ही नहीं सकता. लगी सौ सौ की … क्या बात कर रहो ?

यही तो बात है मेरे दोस्त. आज इंडस्ट्री में कद्र्दान ही कहां हैं ? किशोर दा लकी थे कि सही समय पर इडस्ट्री में आ गये नहीं तो वो भी मेरी तरह कोई थकी हुई नौकरी बजा रहे होते. साला हां जी कि नौकरी ना जी का घर .

आप सोचते होंगे  कि इसका क्या मतलब ?? मैंने भी सोचा था. पर ब्रिजेश जी ऐसी बातें कह जाया  करते थे कि आदमी जीवन भर सोचे और उनका मर्म जाने बिना ही पंच तत्वों में विलीन हो जाये.

कहने की ज़रूरत नहीं कि उसके बाद मैं कई दिन उनके हुनर को तराशता रहा और यहां तक कि  कुमार सानू की खास पेशकश पर ब्रिजेश जी बम्बई भी हो आये. ये बात और  है कि मैंने उन्हें ये कभी नहीं  बताया कि उस दिन जो बीस आदमी जो उनकी गायकी का शिकार बन चुके थे वो मुझे उनके जाल में ना फंसने के लिय आगाह कर आये थे .

मेरे फैरवेल में ब्रिजेश जी ने दर्द मे सराबोर हो कर – चलते चलते मेरे ये गीत याद रखना गाया और वक़्त के मेले में हम दोनों कहां खो गये पता ही नहीं चला.

आज बरसों बाद मेरे एक निर्यातक मित्र का फोन आया. वो बहुत ही विचलित अवस्था में थे.

केहने लगे – यार पियर वन ( अमरीका का रिटेल स्टोर ) से एक इंसपेक्टर आया है. बडा ही बद्तमीज़ है.

मैं बोला – सो क्यों

अमां मुझसे से कह रहा है कि ज़रा एक गिलास पानी ले आओ.भला ये क्या बात हुई. वहां किसी को जानते हो ? ये बद्तमीज़ी तो मुझसे बर्दाश्त ना होगी.बिजेनेस रहे या जाये.

मेरे चेहरे पर मुस्कराहट आ गयी और मैंने कहा – उनसे पूछो कि सर पानी गिलास में लाऊं या सीधा बोतल से पियेंगे ?

यार मेरी जान मुश्किल में है और तुम्हें मज़ाक सूझ रहा है. इसका क्या मतलब ?

अरे तुम पूछो तो . फिर आगे बताना.

थोडी ही देर बाद मेरे निर्यातक मित्र का फोन फिर आया. चेहकते हुए केहने लगे – यार कमाल हो गया. वो तो केहने लगे  कि मैं तो यों ही मज़ाक कर रहा था. अभी अभी तो कोल्ड ड्रिंक पी है.और हां मज़े की बात तो ये है कि अचानक तुम्हारे बारे में पूछने लगे . तुम जानते हो क्या ?

हां शायद थोडा थोडा – मैं हंस रहा था .

**ये कहानी पूर्ण्त: मेरे खाली दिमाग की पैदवार है. इसका किसी भी व्यक्ती या वस्तु विशेष से कोई सरोकार नहीं है. बस पढें और मज़ा ले … जैसा मैंने लिखते समय किया है.

~ By aahang


If today be sweet..

Ah, fill the cup; – what boots it to repeat                               khayamportraitsm3

How time is slipping underneath our feet:

Unborn tomorrow and dead yesterday

Why fret about them if today be sweet !

March end brings some relief as one can take the unused leaves accumulated during the year.To my delight after the 15 leaves that could be spilled over as encashments I had still got 3 more left.I promptly applied yesterday and the powers that be obliged.

With the managerial instinct that has now become a second nature I ‘planned’ to do nothing and indulge myself.

The first thing I decided was that this tired old body of mine needs some pampering.So I landed at Secunderabad club allowing Solomon Joseph the master  masseur to work his magic.A feeling of calm enveloped me as the Worldspace radio played

दिल ढूंढता है फिर वही फुर्सत के रात दिन

बैठे रहें तस्सवुर ए जाना किए हुए …..

image060

I am not sure when the tassavur e Jaana ended , the REM sleep started and I dosed off.The only thing that bothered me was showing my bums to a stranger but then I let it be …..

अछ्छा है दिल के पास रहे पासबान ए अक्ल

लेकिन कभी कभी इसे तन्हा भी छोड दे

Before your imagination yields to fantasy I want to tell you that my massage session lasted as it should have.In true Impireal style the orderly brought a towel along with a soap and shampoo so I can get rid of the oil factory that was me.

A luxurious hot shower bath of 30 minutes infested in me the spirit of a Gora Saheb (quite literally now) and I walked out of the parlor after tipping the staff handsomely.

A good thing about Secunderabad club is that it has a very good library but more than that you can get a cup of English Tea in the Lounge next to it.After borrowing a copy of  Dante’s the Divine Comedy I ordered for a cup of finest blend they have.Come on now….stop being Jealous.image059

Dante is a bit pretentious.Isn’t it ? I did look at other titles but whether vanity gave in to reason or reason gave in to vanity I am not sure.I had always picked up this one at the bookstore and kept it back thinking what if I do not understand a word of it – I will be short of cash for the wisdom I could not acquire.So this was my chance.

I guess 40 minutes were enough for me in the fabled land of Gods and angels so I decided to make my move into the real world.But as they say in Hindi “मुल्ला की दौड मस्जिद तक” so I found myself parking the car in front of Odyssey – the Books and Music store.They had a flat 50 % off sale so I ended image067up buying twice the stuff at half the price.Nice Tag line – will try to remember it when I open my own retail store.Twice the stuff at half the price,twice the stuff at half the price…..shut up !Apart from others I picked up one very interesting book about why genius and hash,heroine and alcohal are inseperable.The book maps the life histories of a number of Poets,thinkers,scholars,Musicians to drive home the point.

I think it will serve as an apt explanation for my psychedelic leanings.The genius in me has the right to be nourished albeit with foods (aka drink) considered unfit by lesser mortals.Have parked it for the late night reading.

Body is done,mind is taken care of and now we must have something for the senses.Again your ugly serpent is raising its head.I am a married father of two with limited means and imagination so nothing sensual for me.I decided to watch a movie all by myself – LCD screen,Full sound,Pop corn,Leather sofa,air conditioner……and me.I chose The Bucket List – a story of two old guys who meet up in a cancer ward.Edward ( Jack nicholson) owns the hospital and Carter(Morgan Freeman) is a car mechanic but they come close thanks to Ed’s policy of bucket-listhaving two patients in every room.He is not running a spa..he says.As they get to know each other they decide to explore the world and do what they have always yearned but never had the chance.On their bucket list are things such as kissing the most beautiful girl in the world and Diving from the sky.I would say a good watch smiles,tears,compassion but what was uncanny for me was that in one scene Ed asks his board members in a meeting” Have you read Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy?’ No big deal but considering the fact that I wrote half the post before watching the movie, it was weird.

The problem is that it keeps happening with me all the time.Just a few days back I was reading India in slow motion.There was a chapter on Sufism which I really liked.When I came out of my room I was  puzzled to see my wife was watching a program on National Geographic that was about Sufis and showing the same places I was just reading about. Strange.

ना जाने नक्शत्रों से कौन

निमंत्रण देता मुझको मौन

Curiously, the most searched and viewed post on my blog is the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra.I never thought it would get any views but I posted it as I wanted to remember the meaning and listen to it  whenever,where ever I wanted.Now every time I check the blog stats it appears in the most searched and clicked classification.

shivji1

I am hearing his call.Is he hearing mine too ?

At the splendor…….I stared

Jalwa baqadr-e-zarf-e-nazar dekhte rahe         humayun-tomb
Kya dekhte hum unko magar dekhte rahe

At the splendor, with an appreciative eye, I gazed
What else could I see- but at her, I gazed.

Apna hi aks pesh-e-nazar dekhte rahe
Aaina ru-ba-ru tha jidhar dekhte rahe

At my own reflection, standing before myself, I gazed
It was me in the mirror everywhere, wherever I gazed

Unki hareem-e-naaz kahaan aur hum kahaan
Naqsh-o-nigaar-e-parda-e-dar dekhte rahe

Before the  sanctuary of  her grace, I stood nowhere
At the imprints ,at the veil, at the door, I gazed

Aisi bhi kuch firaaq ki raatein guzar gayin
Jaise unhi ko pesh-e-nazar dekhte rahe

Some nights of separation have gone by as if
It were her, in front of my eyes,  I gazed.

Har lehza shaan-e-husn badalti rahi Jigar
Har aan hum jahaan-e-digar dekhte rahe

With every glance, the grandeur of beauty changed, O Jigar
At every glory of this transforming world, I gazed.

Be the glass or become the chalice..

Ji chahe to sheesha ban ja, ji chahe paimana ban ja
Sheesha paimana kya banna, mai ban ja maikhana ban ja

Be the glass or become the chalice

Why only the glass or chalice ? become the wine,the tavern

Mai ban kar, maikhana bankar masti ka afsana ban ja
Masti ka afsana bankar hasti se begaana ban ja

By becoming the wine,the tavern become the symbol of joy

A symbol of joy now, be indifferent to your existence

Hasti se begaana hona masti ka afsaana banna
Iss hone se is banne se achha hai dewaana ban ja

Being indifferent to existence,a symbol of joy

Be this be that,Isn’t it better that you just loose your senses

Dewaana ban jane se dewaana hona achha hai
Deewana hone se achha khak-e-dar-e-janana ban ja

It’s even better to be mad than to loose your senses

To be mad or to become the dust of the the beloved’s doorstep

Khak-e-dar-e-janana kya hai ahle dil ki aankh ka surma
Shama ke dil ki thandak ban ja noor-e-dil-e-parwana ban ja

Seekh ‘Zaheen’ ke dil se jalna kahe ko har shamma par jalna
Apni aag mein khud jal jaye tu aisa parwana ban ja

~ Hazrat Zaheen Shah Taaji

बेख़ुदी बढ़ती चली है राज़ की बातें करो

शाम-ए-ग़म कुछ उस निगाह-ए-नाज़ की बातें करो                             evening-2php

बेख़ुदी बढ़ती चली है राज़ की बातें करो

About those graceful looks,O sad evening Let’s talk

I am loosing my senses ,about my secrets Let’s talk

ये सुकूत-ए-नाज़ ये दिल की रगों का टूटना

ख़ामुशी में कुछ शिकस्त-ए-साज़ की बातें करो

This graceful stillness,that ruptures my heart’s veins

In this silence,about the loss of music let’s talk

निकहत-ए-ज़ुल्फ़-ए-परीशां, दास्तान-ए-शाम-ए-ग़म

सुबह होने तक इसी अंदाज़ की बातें करो

The fragrance of hair let loose,the story of an evenings sorrow

Till it’s morning just like this, let’s talk

कूछ क़फ़स की तीलियों से छन रहा है नूर सा

कुछ फ़िज़ा, कुछ हसरत-ए-परवाज़ की बातें करो

From the bars of my confinement,something  light like filters through

Of the skies,about my ambition to fly Let’s talk


Management Jargon Demysitified

If you cannot explain it to your 6 year old daughter,you have probably not understood it yourself ~ Albert Einstein

Ram charan,who has been named as “The most influential consultant alive” by Fortune magazine believes that the basics of doing business are not complicated at all and are just common sense. He says :

Business acumen is not an arcane or complicated skill.Every successful business person has business acumen,including unschooled vendors who sell their wares in third world open air markets.

If you think about those business fundamentals in their simplest terms,the way a street vendor selling fuit and vegetables might think about them,I believe that the concepts are easy enough for anyone interested in business to understand.

He adds :

Revenue is the amount of money that comes into a company from the sale of its products or services.For a street vendor it is the money he collects for selling his fruits and vegetables.

Profit is the money left after deducting the cost of those goods.

Profit margin, is the money you get to keep as a percentage of total revenues.                          mumbai-street-vendor2

Sales – $150

Cost  – $135

Profit – $15

Margin – 10 % ( $150-$135 = $15 , $15/$150 = 10 %)

Any business is started with an intention to make money which can be expressed as the Profit Margin Target.

The street vendor makes many decisions during the day to achieve his profit margin goal,beginning early in the morning when he decides how much fruit to buy and what to pay for it.This is his sourcing strategy.

Should he buy one variety or several ?This is the “Product Mix”.

He sets up his cart and decides how to price the fruit as it will affect his margin.This is his Pricing Strategy.

I will chip in:

The way he arranges them on the cart is his Visual Merchandising Planogram.

Back to Shri Ram Charan

During the day he takes some tough trade off decisions about what price cuts he should make to unload his inventory so he ends the day with enough cash to buy merchandise tomorrow.These are Mark downs.

He learns to make these decisions through trial and error therefore the clearer his view of his customers,the better his decisions will be.We call it Consumer behaviour.

Just as street vendors need cash,so do companies.A dwindling flow of cash from operations can get them into trouble even if the financial statements show a handsome profit.

The next fundamental that concerns your business is Velocity,what some people call asset turns.

Assets often include buildings,equipment,computers,receivables and inventory.

Velocity is how much annual revenue the company generates for each $ it has invested in assets.

Annual sales  – $ 1 billion ,Assets – $ 100 milion,  Therefore Velocity – 10

For a retailer If :

Revenue $700 million, Average Inventory – $100 million, Velocity is – 7

Velocity 7 is quite good in retailing.

Margin and velocity can be combined into one measure that most investors use to assess a business,its called Return on Investment(ROI).

ROI – Margin X Velocity.

Retailing ( we are talking about a street vendor selling F & V) is a low margin,high velocity business.a retailer may have a 3 % margin but a velocity of 7 will yield a respectable return of 21 %.If you put the same money in bank the max that you can get is 9 %.

That’s why you are doing the business.

Lets look at growth.A growth that sacrifices margin for revenue is not desirable.A real growth is the one in which the revenue as well as the margins grow.

Finally we will talk about the most important entity – the customers.A growing market share shows that customers are choosing your product over your competitors in increasing numbers every day.

So if you are growing your share of the market, in a market, that is by itself growing then it is a great position to be in.If cellphone market is growing by 30 % and your share has doubled from 10 % to 20 % from last year it is exciting and you are doing something right for your customers.

But if your market share is growing in a market that is on a free fall For example CD’s then it simply means that your competition has moved to greener pastures and you are left to tow away the burden.

Bear in mind that business acumen is not a matter of being able to calculate numbers to the 9th decimal place but about being customer centric, focussed and intelligent.

End quote.

Further I want you to consider this :

Trial and error are called insights from Consumer behaviour in a board meeting and mapping the pschycographic mindscape of purchase decisions executed in a competitive environment by measuring the dynamics of inter relationship between product and price by consultants from Bogus Consulting Group.

All three basically mean that you have messed up with your customers last year and are going to grapple with it in the coming year too.meeting-mock

PBA -Paralysis by analysis is a favorite game played by bored corporate citizens.If you have 2 two rupee coins and you keep counting them till the clock strikes 6 PM and  they will still add up to 4 rupees only.You can  make them 5 rupees by doing something about it – I will suggest that you go to the nearest signal and beg for it if there is no other strategic or tactical move that you can plan within the limited time constraints.

Will leave you with a powerful thought by Ralph Waldon Emerson :

Common sense is genius in a work man’s clothing.

Advait

“You are a part, a piece, of an eternal, infinite being, an aspect or modification of it… This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole… The plurality that we perceive is only an appearance; it is not real.

I insist upon the view that ‘all is waves’. The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads only. The mystical experience of the union with God regularly leads to this view, unless strong prejudices stand in the way. Multiplicity is only apparent, in truth, there is only one mind… The ego or its separation is an illusion.”

~ Erwin Schrödinger, Quantum Physicist and Originator of Schrodinger’s Cat Experiment of the nature of reality

Solitude

Here in the wilderness I am completely free.

On a bed of stone I sit, alone in the night, While the round moon climbs up Cold Mountain.

~ Han-Shan

Tea and Zen

Make a ritual out of drinking your tea. Stop work and look deeply into your tea to see everything that went into making it: the clouds and the rain, the tea plantations and the workers harvesting the tea.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

विचार

मैं माध्यम हूँ, मौलिक विचार नहीं,
कनफ़्युशियस ने कहा ।

तो मौलिक विचार कहाँ मिलते हैं,
खिले हुए फूल ही
नए वृन्तों पर
दुबारा खिलते हैं ।

आकाश पूरी तरह
छाना जा चुका है,
जो कुछ जानने योग्य था,
पहले ही जाना जा चुका है ।

जिन प्रश्नों के उत्तर पहले नहीं मिले,
उनका मिलना आज भी मुहाल है ।

चिंतकों का यह हाल है
कि वे पुराने प्रश्नों को
नए ढंग से सजाते हैं
और उन्हें ही उत्तर समझकर
भीतर से फूल जाते हैं ।
मगर यह उत्तर नहीं,
प्रश्नों का हाहाकार है ।
जो सत्य पहले अगोचर था,
वह आज भी तर्कों के पार है ।
~ दिनकर