Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Heyllo God. :)

I think I have pretty much made up my mind about not being an atheist. I know that I believe in God now (and I am sure He must have gone “yey!!!” when I wrote this).
I am still undecided about what kind of God I believe in.
I know He exists because he has given all my share of chips to other people and all their share of salads to me.
I know He is there because I am genuinely surprised at the power that helps me walk to the station and get on the train and get off and walk home after an hour and a half at the university gym.
Had it not been for Him, I would not have found my way back home when I get lost about five times a week trying to use a seemingly “smart” combination of public transport.
I think we should all have our own personalized Gods.

Religion turns God into a really boring entity. I feel that God must not so verbose and fastidious. The more words go into defining him, the lesser He stays in them.
I think He is just the instinct inside us that lets us do beautiful things. That lets us appreciate the fact that we are here.
It is funny sometimes to realize that between two events that we have no control over, our birth and death, how finicky and fussy we get trying to control everything that lies between them. The kind of education we want, the kind of money we want to make, the kind of woman or women we want to be with, the kind of food we want to consume, what we wish to leave behind and what we do not want to let others have!
When I think of it with an airplane view towards things around me, I think that God also must have an outrageous sense of humour. I can imagine Him rolling on the floor with laughter when he sees us getting raging mad at things that make no difference whatsoever in the larger scheme of things.

The Bhagwat Geeta defines four kinds of followers of God. The one who is suffering, the one who wants, the one who seeks and the one who knows. It amazes me how well grouped that is.
I still remember how we used to go to the Temple right next to my best friend Pooja's house only before a written test (when we were suffering) and the semester results (when we lit the incense sticks with greedy and helpless minds). I think most of us shuttle back and forth between the first two groups.

I have known about the glimpse of the “Seekers” in some of the books I have read about Buddhist and Zen philosophies. I really think that the real Eastern culture is about knowing yourself to know God. God is not a group activity in the East like the Sunday mass. We can approach our own God in our own way and I think the Eastern culture has ample routes to reach Him.
The East, in her devotion goes to a point where the worshiper and God become one and the same. I am in awe of this merging of the observer and the object. It teaches you a lot more than what it says. When your devotion is so flexible and fluid, it works in everything you do. When you become what you believe in, you end up leaving yourself in everything you do and still having all that you are within yourself. Like water, your devotion fills everything that it is applied to. It does not ask questions about God’s identity, nor does it turn Him into one of those hot theological discussions over a few pitchers on a Friday night. It just keeps you alert, aware and happy about the little things that seem to work for you and around you to take you through this refreshingly mysterious labyrinth called Life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dear Baba

I often talk about my mom. When I was around my parents I used to think that I am the upgraded version of my mum’s personality. Away from home, I realize that I am not exactly everything that she is.
There are a lot of things that I inherit from baba. I think my positive attitude and hyperactivity is all baba-given.
My dad has a surprising innocence about him, which many people find around me too. I think it is due to the fact that both of us have the ability to retain the kid inside us.
My dad used to play games with me when I was a kid. I made up really creative games with me playing an insecticide and he playing the cockroach. We used to call it the “Cockroach Game”. The insects were replaced with new ones that I found spookier as I grew up.
On Saturdays, baba used to be off from work and we went to the zoo. During that time, I was obsessed with zoo animals and I did not mind spending hours in front of the tiger cage or watching a deer or a peacock. All this while my dad patiently waited around, even encouraging my descriptions of what the animals were doing and telling me stories related to them. He came home and told my mom how I make cute mispronunciations of their names. As a grown up (well, almost a grown up) I really admire his patience with the zoo. If I had to take someone like me to a zoo, I would be bored and angry in no time. I was a really dreamy kid. I took hours to appreciate things and made up my own little stories as I went about it. It must have been really hard to take that.
On our way back from the zoo, we bought a lot of junk food that consisted primarily of the two-minute noodles that came in a cup and something sickeningly sweet. That was my only opportunity to have a go at food “with no value” like my mom calls it.
In summers or around my winter vacations, he took long breaks from work to spend time with me. He read me stories (sometimes with little enactments of the characters) and got me songs. He taught me how to work in the garden and plucked tuberoses for me. He introduced me to Rabindrashongeet when I was around four years old and I learnt the songs by heart without even knowing the language. I can still sing all those songs and that has given me a lot of Bengali friends ( not that it is a prerequisite but they are all long lasting friendships).
The most memorable dad-daughter thing we ever did was the bicycle. He got me a brand new bicycle on my 5th birthday and he was determined to teach me how to ride it. I have never seen anyone so ambitious about something that parents usually would never pay attention to. I was really scared of riding it for the fear of scraping my knee (which I did anyway while doing a lot of other things every two weeks). He used to hold on to the back and run behind me. He is fit as a fiddle and he was really athletic back then so he encouraged me to ride faster while he ran behind me. Our bike lessons were not one of those de-caffeinated ten-rounds-around-the-playground things. I rode my bike right in the middle of the city traffic. Starting from Tilak road going to Navi Peth, LBS road and sometimes even across Mhatre Bridge with my dad running behind me like he was running a marathon. I wondered why everyone on the streets had an expression on their face that said something like, “Aww sho shweet” but now I know why. As we passed couples with pot-bellied husbands, in the flash of moment on my bike that let me observe, I could see the wives nudging their husbands to do something like that for their kids too. Those bike lessons are something that makes me feel really proud to have him around.
I spent about twelve years of my life learning Indian Classical dancing. It has added a lot to my personality and it really opened up my imagination. My dad used to take me to my dance classes and he did not just drop me and pick me up. He knew all about my dancing. He knew how to read a story when I told it in dance, even with my limitations as a dancer. :)
At school I always won prizes for my oratory. My dad wrote all my speeches for me.
A lot of research went into his writing. Even though it was just a school thing.
He did some basic conditioning on me. I owe my reading to him, even the fact that I cannot stay without reading the news everyday.
He made sure that he showed up for my parent-teacher meets and he was very popular amongst the teachers for coming up with really creative study solutions ( which for some reason never seemed to work on me).
Whether it was trying to find out who the Prime Minister of U.S.S.R is or picking mangoes from the backyard tree, my dad was always there with me. It was one of those pretty places in my life. The one that you keep going back to when your present has turned into a reaction that has gone rancid!

As a person, what amazes me about him is his happiness and positive attitude. He was diagnosed with diabetes when he was twenty-four. That is how old I am right now. I have seen him turn his diabetes into something really good that he has for twenty-five years. I grew up watching him run, sprint, run the half marathon, go to the gym and eat healthy ( sometimes even to the extremes I must confess). I have seen people drop their jaws when they met him first and then were introduced to me as his daughter. I really felt very proud on such occasions.

Life is full of clouds and every family has it’s share of nebulas but when you see someone like me flying paper planes through them, you have got to be sure that it is a side of my personality that comes from my dad. He is the kind of person who will sing in the bathroom even after he comes back from a funeral and that is not because he does not grieve. That is because he puts it all on the pyre, pays a sincere condolence and moves on.
As my readers must have already noted, he reads and comments on everything I write and sometimes even embarrasses me by praise. I don’t know if I really deserve all his adulation, but he definitely deserves more than this.
Thanks a lot baba!!
Miss you!
PS: I intended to write this for Father's Day but I realized that there are too many Father's Days around the world.
And it IS Father's Day when you actually end up thinking all of that!! :D