Sultana Daku, his horse and the Clock Tower 

It is said that when cornered by the british forces Sultana Daku jumped from the 67 meter high clock tower into a pond below and escaped.My grandpa told me that these were stories concocted by the servants of the Noblemen to put the kids to sleep. The truth is that he jumped straight away on his horseback from the top of the tower and fled the scene. This is legendary stuff that Lucknow is made of and this is why the love of story telling flows through my veins. 
Here is some more dope on this. Hope you will insist to visit the clock tower when you are in Lucknow next time.

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 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. The tower has been restored to its original glory and last time I passed by it was even showing the correct time !!

If you care to get down and go near, You will 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 !! Now it’s been put back up I guess.

And one last trivia – On a clear day one can see the city of Cawnpore (Kanpur)from top of this tower. I tried to test it out but they did not let me in. They said that I looked too depressed to be allowed a safe passage lest I jump from above. After all I am not Sultana Daku 😊

Pic Credit – We are Lucknowites 

Mind Games..

I have been practicing to observe my mind for a few years now. At first it was so very difficult to think of me as someone different from my mind but now I can sift a little, typically when I (or my mind) am not agitated. 

Let me give you an example from today. I woke up at 9 AM today ignoring the 6 AM alarm thrice and was instantly filled with a sense of loss and lethargy. Now instead of speeding up to make up for the lost hours I started loitering around the house, irritating Anant (who was still dozing) and generally gazing into the oblivion. At around 1130 AM I realized that I have some important work at the bank and I have also promised to meet some friends from writers community at the Café. As an old habit, I immediately started cursing myself. Then suddenly something inside me said – wait a minute. The same mind which instigated me to waste my time since morning is now reprimanding me for being careless and lagging. I decided to take my revenge and picked up the phone. I was ready to waste another hour just to show my mind who is in control. But what the hell, the bank guy called and asked “Are you coming?” 

I looked at the watch, kept the phone down and rushed to take bath and get ready.

As I write this post I am reminded that the way to control the mind is through discipline. It’s almost like a child who knows that he is not going to get the candy for creating ruckus everytime, stops crying by itself. Neuro scientists also believe that if we do something regularly for 6 weeks it creates a pathway in the brain and it becomes a habit. It is already 15 minutes past 10 PM, the time I had decided that I will sleep today. There is no way I am going to skip the walk at Cubbon Park and Jalebi at Tewari’s. 

Guten Abend folks. So long till the next post..

A Mind Map of Living

Our limited ideas about ourselves come from a kind of linear thinking which has been put in our minds from the day we started learning the basic building blocks of life. Linear thinking appears to make life simple, not only for us, but for the society as well. We are made to believe that we can achieve success in life when our goals are single minded, our approach is straight forward and our effort are more focused. How to define success and that it is an individual occurrence not a collective phenomenon is however conveniently ignored. Now if we look at nature around us it seems to be quite complex, at least at the first instance. Everything seems to be inter connected, there is stuff happening for no apparent reason and yet there are rules that govern the entire existence. It even looks like there is no goal or purpose and yet everything is perfect the way it is – cheerful and content. There does seem to be a method in the madness and that method sustains the entire universe and everything in it.

So how can we as inherent constituents of the same nature be in alignment with nature if we don’t do as what should be natural to us. It is a fact that like nature we exist in multiple dimensions, our personality has many layers to it and our source of joy & happiness, just like our source of misery & sadness stems from many different facets of our being. It is not a cookie cutter, one size fits all kind of a scenario, no. Imagine that our lives are a mystery or simply put a problem to be solved. Would you go with a linear or a multi dimensional approach ?

Mind maps are a great way to make sense of our lives. Just as they are used for iterative decision making in business they can be used to sort out the goals and priorities of our lives. Look at the below video where Jenny Blake tries to define her goals for the year 2017. Jenny is the Author of Pivot – the only move that matters is your next one and has been a career coach at Google. The key idea is to first define the different areas in which you want to succeed and then highlight what does success mean in each one of them.Making goals, sub goals and quantifying them can further facilitate breaking down and measuring achievement.

A Mind Map of Living is quite a  powerful idea which can help us to get better control of our lives. In the short term it can ensure direction and speed. In the long run happiness and satisfaction. 

Zazen & Smile

One of the tenets of Zazen Meditation is to keep a gentle smile on your face during your practice. They say that Zazen is all about enjoying your existence. To just sit quietly and be joyful of being there. 

What my teacher told me is that once you put a smile on your face your entire focus goes on maintaining that smile. All thoughts tend to stop automatically. It happens because we are so used to have a dull impression on our face that it takes immense effort and focus to smile without thinking about it.

I have found this to be absolutely true. It is an amazing little trick, a hack for the monkey mind. Even if you don’t meditate just try it. Do it for 5 minutes and see how quickly you reach the ever smiling, thoughtless state 🙂

बस यूं ही 

कई बरस बाद एक ग़ज़ल हुई है। कोई खास वजह नहीं थी बस यूं ही….कुछ तो मौसम की पहली बारिश की कैफ़ियत थी और कुछ इटालियन वाइन का सुरूर ! 

एक उन्हें दिल की बात बताने के लिए,

जाने कितने अल्फाज़ लिखे हैं ज़माने के लिए

घर से जो निकले थे वो न लौटे अब तक,

कितने बरस लग गए कुछ सिक्के कमाने के लिए

ए खुदा मुझे अपनी बाहों की पनाहें दे दे,

एक यही जगह मुनासिब है गुनाह छुपाने के लिए

ज्यों भूलने से लगते हैं ज़माने के ग़मों में तेरा गम,

फिर तेरी याद चली आती है “आहंग” सताने के लिए ..