Slaying the Slump Dragon

A few days off thanks to Diwali meant more time for books and walks. And somehow, despite the new books waiting to be read, I ended up reading on the kindle. One such was Bruce Lee: Beyond The Limits. I watched the movie first as a young teen and was impressed with the early part of it, the powerful short sentences that Bruce Lee made iconic. Since then, I may have watched ‘the movie ‘Enter the Dragon’ a few times. One of my teachers mentioned Tao of Jeet Kune Do recently and I had filed it in my head to read as and when I could get my hands on a physical copy. And in the meanwhile, I stumbled upon the book I read. Books find one.

After a long time, I went yes, yes, yes. A life spent in honing one’s craft is a distilled one. Practice regularly, practice obsessively and what is churned will be like the proverbial treasures that the Samudra Manthan spewed. As a practitioner of a discipline that is rigorous, purist and yet incredibly dynamic, there is much identification in many of the terse statements and interpretations of the author. Many of the insights are ones that are an experienced reality. In short, the book left an imprint. Needless to say, I ended up watching the movie again.

Some gems from the book

“​Styles are parts dissected from the whole, divisive by nature, and keep men apart.”

“​The important thing to bear in mind is that the physical body and energy body are not separate, but like different interpenetrating frequencies or substances”

“​The quantum world — the Void — is like an invisible ocean both around and within us. We can’t see it — like the wind, we can only see what it does. We can’t see it, because it’s already in the eye that’s looking. And we can’t touch it, because it’s already forming the hand that touches. Yet all that we see, hear, feel and touch is ‘it’.”

“​Sometimes the best thing we can do is simply ‘walk on’.”

“​From the moment we become more concerned with what things are than how they are, the world stops yielding to us directly — and a description of it begins to stand in between”

“​Here, ‘individual’ carries the same meaning as ‘indivisible’. It describes someone who is whole and integrated within — and so is indivisible from all life, everywhere.”

“​The martial artist’s challenge is the same as everybody else’s — to integrate body, mind and awareness, while learning something very practical — how to prevail in divisive situations and a fragmented world”

‘​There is only all the energy at our disposal — it doesn’t matter where it comes from — we get to use it all the same.”

“​An artist’s expression is his soul made apparent.”

Sometimes, there is a reading slump. One goes through the motions of reading but that sense of satisfaction and tinge of sadness at its ending can be missing. I consume a fair bit through the year but very few books make that cut. This was one of them. Likewise, there is another delightful book which was on my list, Birds and Birdsong, which is a current read and it promises to be a delight. M. Krishnan is one of India’s finest naturalists.

Reading for pleasure has taken a dip this year thanks to more reading for study but the foil those books provide makes the study material that much richer. I do believe the more interests one has, the better one assimilates and synthesizes. Something gets rewired, something new gets sparked. Imagination gets activated, creative instincts get fired. Slumps are good for they allow all the assortment in our lives to give rise to something new.


Sunday began fresh and early. There was no agenda to the day as such but it turned out to be quite a full one. And sometime in the afternoon, Sukanta landed at my doorstep with three large bags. I hadn’t seen him for a few years, partly because of the pandemic but mostly because I didn’t feel like buying any festive looking sarees. Long story short, he came, we saw, he sold.

Some of the sarees he showed us

I haven’t bought a new saree in a long while, there was no need. I have a cupboard full of mother’s sarees and another that holds my own. Many of them have sentimental value and so remain in my possession. Despite periodic shedding, I still have far too many and so didn’t see the need to buy one. And that has been the case since a few Diwalis. But, this year, I felt the stirrings of wanting a warm tradition to call my own. And so, I decided to get the offspring and myself sarees.

I might have gone to one of the handloom shops to buy them but the saree seller landed at my doorstep and we had no choice after that. He whipped out colours, craft and fabrics from his cavernous bags. And I found myself saying, Sukanta, saadha wala saree dikha do (Sukanta, show me plain sarees) and he would go didi, Diwali hai, thoda bhaari sari chahiye (Sister, it’s Diwali, you need a fancy saree). He insisted on emptying all three onto the floor and presented each one with a flourish. Bahut accha Sadi hai, didi.(It’s a very beautiful saree, sister). Many, many years ago, another saree seller would use the same lines. I’ve wondered what happened to him occasionally. It reminds me of an earlier post.

Sukanta showing off one of his favorites, a kantha on silk

My friend happened to be visiting and between the two of us, we ended with 3 beautiful sarees. Like she said, we need to buy new things as well to keep the energy cycle in our lives. Earlier in the day, we had gathered and given a whole load of things to the collection drive folks. E-waste, kitchen utensils, appliances, bags, books, clothes, bed linen and the likes found their way out of our homes and to a sensible destination for recycling or reuse. With the coming in of new yards, the circle did quite round the day nicely.


The internet brought some lovely people into my world. Faraway folks became regular correspondents, via snail mail or e-mails. A few of them spilled into the real world as well. If not for this invisible web of computers, I would probably never have made their acquaintance. 

One of my biggest joys has been letters. I don’t write as many now since the pandemic sort of messed the postal system in my neighbourhood.​ Many of my letters have lost their way and those that were sent to me disappeared too. After quite a few of such wayward missives, I decided to stick to e-mail. Maybe another address may have better luck. The speed post ones do find their way but regular post cannot be trusted.

This afternoon, the postman handed over a couple of books and a letter from a regular correspondent. We met via the internet and discovered shared stories and interests. Over the last couple of years, we’ve shared letters and swapped books. Friendships grow in unexpected ways. So many things shape the nature of this unique relationship. Proximity, frequency, the basis for the bond and the like.

One of the books from today.

Loss of friendships due to any reason is painful but there is very little that talks about it. Music, movies and books speak of heartbreak and loss of romantic and familial relationships but not very much about friends being separated. As I type, I am reminded of N & S, two wonderful ladies I got to know thanks to the internet. N passed away during the pandemic and her friend was left bereft. But, there is no word that acknowledges a very different bereavement. Usually, one associates that kind of grief with family or romantic relationships but loss of friends could be intensely painful too.