This year vijayadasami was special. My violin teacher started me on “samajavaragamana”. I hope to be able to play it well by the end of the year.

Yamunotri

During our midterm break, my father and I had embarked on a long desired trip – to yamunotri and gangotri. I had tried to vies this more as a trek rather than a pilgrimage, but at the end of the day, the mood of the places got the better of me and i must admit that there is much more to these places than the sheer thrill of trekking in the himalayas.

We reached haridwar on the 12th from kanpur and stayed there for a day. That evening we watched the ganga arati – it is amazing that despite having seen this arati quite a times, i never seem to tire of it and each time it has the same magical, mystical effect that it did have the previous time on me. After the arati, much of the crowd disperses and then my father and I sat down by the river and watched it as it flowed by. the mountains formed a lovely backdrop as did the descending darkness. There was a chill in the air and I was so thankful, that i could be a part of this larger, intangible framework and experience those few moments in life when you are at complete peace with yourself and your surroundings. I have often wondered why I have been so unsuccessful in translating these experiences to my day-to-day life.

The next morning, we took a bus to Darasur and from there another bus to Barkot. From Barkot we got into a shared jeep and proceeded to Janakichatti, which is 5km away from Yamunotri. The drive from Darasur to Barkot was lovely. It was through the mountains and the entire trip was through the pine forest. The smell of the pines was heady as was the clean breeze. Somewhere, along the way, the driver very kindly stopped near a stream and I had never tasted water so sweet earlier. By the time, we had reached Janakichatti, it was late in the evening, by which time it had become dark and it was also very cold. There was this thrill of being in the mountains, but beyond that it was too dark to make out anything else. So, we had dinner and went to bed early in eager anticipation of the morrow. During the course of the evening, a number of people did come and ask us if we required ponies for the journey. I looked at them, I hope without disdain (though, I would doubt this) , and declared emphatically that we most certainly did not. After all this was just a 5km trek and quite a few people had assured me that it would be a piece of cake. The next morning, we set out at 6:00 just as dawn broke. The sight greeting us was awesome. We could make out the sapt rishi range from where we stood and could see that our destination lay in that direction. So, appa and I set out with a couple of other people in a most determined manner. We had hardly taken a couple of steps before my father had a twist in his knee and we had to call for the pony. I am not quite sure if a pony is a less strenuous way of reaching a destination, but it is certainly easy on the legs, but brutal on the back and hips. All along the way, we could see the river yamuna flowing gracefully in stretches and wildly in parts and my heart was in a highly excited state to be a part of these magnificent surroundings. The forests, the rivers, the mountains and finally the clean mountain air give you such surges of pleasure and completeness. I have rarely felt as benevolent towards the world at large as I do when I am in such settings.

We went on our journey, my father on the pony and me, on foot stopping just once for an impossibly sweet chai. At times, the legs did complain and that is when the destination seemed so unattainable and at these junctures, I would remind myself that I had trekked to hemkund sahib and that this should be peaceful. At other times, I would berate myself for not having paid enough attention to physical fitness. But, the destination, we did reach and what an awesome place it was. There is a hot water spring beneath the temple. As we were shivering, we proceeded with eager anticipation of a soothing hot water bath. The bath there was refreshing and we went on to the temple. The specialty of this temple, is that the “prasad” is rice cooked in the hot water from the springs. It gets cooked instantly. The temple location is perfect. As a backdrop one can see the Sapt Rishi Mountains looming and by the side of the temple, the river yamuna gushing and flowing in gay abandon. The cold was piercing, but we were at peace with the ourselves and the world.

http://picasaweb.google.com/nandinin/Yamunotri

आचार्यात् पादमादत्ते

 

आचार्यात् पादमादत्ते पादं शिष्यः स्वमेधया।
पादं सब्रह्मचारिभ्यः पादम् कालक्रमेण च॥

ācāryāt pādamādatte pādaṁ śiṣyaḥ svamedhayā|
pādaṁ sabrahmacāribhyaḥ pādam kālakrameṇa ca||

A student gets a quarter (knowledge) from his teacher, a quarter by his own intelligence.
A quarter from his fellow students and a quarter in due course of time.

सदयं हृदयं यस्य

सदयं हृदयं यस्य भाषितं सत्यभूषितम्।
कायः परहिते यस्य कलिस्तस्य करोति किम्॥
sadayaṁ hṛdayaṁ yasya bhāṣitaṁ satyabhūṣitam|
kāyaḥ parahite yasya kalistasya karoti kim||
[For those] whose heart is full of compassion, whose speech is adorned with the Truth, whose body is for the service of others, what can Kali (yuga) do to them?

Anecdote

Isaac Newton once lived next door to a nosy old widow who was ignorant of her neighbor’s renown. One day she was visited by a Fellow of the Royal Society (over which Newton himself would later preside), to whom she described the odd behavior of “the poor crazy gentleman” next door. “Every morning,” she explained, “when the sun shines so brightly that we are obliged to draw the window-blinds, he takes his seat in front of a tub of soap-suds and occupies himself for hours blowing bubbles through a common clay pipe and intently watches them until they burst.” Ushered to a window by his hostess, the man recognized Newton at once. “The person you suppose to be a poor lunatic,” he declared, “is none other than the great Sir Isaac Newton, studying the refraction of light upon thin plates – a phenomenon which is beautifully exhibited upon the surface of common soap bubbles.”

Lately, I have been reading poetry by Faiz Ahmad Faiz – Lovely poetry and especially poignant. Perhaps, I read both these pieces while in a relatively contemplative frame of mind. Hence, I am inclined to putting them on my blog.

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Loneliness

Loneliness like a good, old friend
visits my house to pour wine in the evening.
And we sit together, waiting for the moon,
and for your face to sparkle in every shadow.

Last Night

Last night your lost memory visited my heart
as spring visits the wilderness quietly,
as the breeze echoes the silence of her footfalls
in the desert,
as peace slowly, softly descends on one’s sickness.

Vacations….

I am heading back to bangalore after a year in Kanpur. Though, I spend most of the year in Kanpur and have a job I love, Kanpur is still not a place I consider home.  That, I guess will always have to be Bangalore. The place I grew up in, made friends, developed interests will always have a  very very special place in my heart. Sure, Bangalore has changed beyond description and comprehension, but there is still something about that place which tugs at my heart and leaves me feeling sad when I have to leave and return.

In contrast each time I get back here after a long holiday,  I get a sinking feeling as the train inches  into the station at Kanpur and wish I were miles away in Bangalore. But, the city notwithstanding, IIT is a rather nice place to live in. One gets to see some nature in the campus which isn’t really visible in the city- atleast the parts I visit or am compelled to visit.

The Bangalore I grew up in was lovely, laid back and life there was slow.  We would go for walks on sundays from our home in Ulsoor to M.G.Road and it felt good to be walking there with the cool breeze and fresh air. The walk to school was also pleasant and unhurried and each time I visit Cambridge Road, I can hardly believe that this was the road I had taken almost everyday for 10 years. It was quiet and had mainly school students on its roads.  I can still recall the smell of the jasmine flowers from the plants that grew in the houses on the way to school. It is replaced by the terribly synthetic smell of petrol these days. The parks and gardens have given way to concrete buildings and the simplicity has been replaced by an opulence which is at once vulgar and repulsive. I wish I could turn the time back and go back to a period where simplicity was a principal component of life.

But inspite of everything, Bangalore is still the place of the people I love- my family and my friends. It is also the place where I learned to dream and realise them..

Walks in the forest

My trip to Pauri last week was really lovely. Spending a week in a himalayan setting was a dream come true for a city person like me. Though, it was hot (not by kanpur standards) during the day, it was lovely. The cool mountain air was refreshing. We went for quite a few walks in the forests adjoining the campus where we were staying. The forests were full of pine and himalayan oak trees. Sadly, there was not a single old pine or oak tree on the campus. This, of course, is a disturbing trend of our times, wherein we replace the trees by ugly buildings.

While walking through the forest, at first one is very careful of one’s step. The only sounds in the forests close to the campus were those of the swaying of the trees in the wind. it was at once eerie and at once comforting. This made me realise the power of silence. There were no cluttering thoughts in my head and there was such peace and such joy to be in sync with mother nature.

On one occassion we walked across the forest to the neighbouring village. There we had tea at the local tea shops- the “pahadis” drink terrible tea – it is frightfully sweet and feels like sugar syrup and so we had to constantly tell them to reduce the sugar. They are very warm people and also very helpful. During our entire stay there, our rooms were never locked and we didn’t lose a thing. Again, another strange experience.

The art of water conservation and usage of the pahadis is rather interesting. In these parts the roots of the oak trees hold the water and in a number of places the water spurts out as springs. The locals then attach a small pipe to the opening and connect it to there house. Rocks are placed along the way to act as filters and the water that comes at home is crystal clear and tastes sweet also. Now, with increased deforestation, the water sources are depleting. The pauri district is one of the driest in the region.


My New Blog

It feels great to be writing again. It has been quite a while since I have written anything apart from some emails and more often than not these are just staid pieces where you share information. Actually writing with gay abandon and with little desire apart from just putting all the flitting thoughts onto the paper gives me a sense of freedom that I haven’t encountered in a while. I hope, this time round I will have more  perseverence and continue writing!!!!

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