Cynicism is separatist

Some time ago, I had an exchange with a blogger elsewhere and there was a term that jarred not for its descriptiveness but for its cynicism. As a descriptor, it was spot on but the spirit of it seemed one of jaded mockery, of the self and others. Cynicism is separatist.

Since then, I’ve found myself straying into thinking about how easy it is to slip into its viscosity. It’s a familiar mindscape, I guess most people go through it either in phases or then as a way of seeing the world, I’ve occupied that space too. It’s a comforting worldview to have, there is no expectation of anything good so one cannot be disappointed. But it is also limiting in its reluctance to be open to the vulnerability of hope. Cynicism tends to be based on outcomes rather than process and braces for dissatisfaction. In a way, it is an expression of fear, a fear of possibility. And therefore the mental posturing is usually one of looking in from the outside, strengthening separation in an already divisive world.

It is an immobility which could become stasis ultimately leading to decay. That is a loss, for oneself and the people in one’s orbit. When I consider it through the lens of asana, cynicism might express itself as I’m never going to be able to get into that pose so why bother. It throws a spoke in the wheel of progress if one does not even attempt because the mind has already decided the end result. But there is a parallel dimension where transformation happens even when it seems impossible. The hundredth attempt perhaps lifting you up effortlessly into a headstand. I see it in a seed growing into a tree, a human breaking the 2 hour marathon barrier and so on.

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

― Erin Hanson

There’s much that is wrong and terrible in the world but there’s also much that is good and joyful. Every time an icon passes away, there is collective mourning. Perhaps, it is a mourning for the loss of hope in a world where it is easy to be trapped in the desolation of cynicism. If I stop to consider how those people lived, what I see is a forging ahead. There is no place for cynicism in that march. It’s just stepping into the next right thing that is possible. It calls for creativity, ingenuity and fortitude and the ability to laugh at oneself, dust oneself up after a fall and climb up that tree again. I write this as a note to myself if ever I need a reminder.

Poking through for an all too brief season but what a joy!

A little bird sings

A myna’s picture made me wander down halls of R&B with two blind musicians even as the skies kept time with pelting raindrops. It turned a room of light into a space of liquid amber and rich voices from the past behind closed eyelids. And just like that a weekday afternoon transformed into a room textured with late night live music even as long columns of numbers stared out of a screen. Between sheets of data and rain, there was a drenching in memory too, one in particular. A night of good food, great music, sounds of conversation, balmy sea breeze and sun tanned bodies dancing without a care. The evening continues in a private club for one.

All this thanks to technology, that brought a little bird on my screen and flew me back in time, recent and way before…

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Had such a good time that night that I barely took any pictures. I don’t know if this is a replica of Mario Miranda’s art or a copy of his style.

Bald heart

Maybe she’ll walk
her way into being a monk
that way she can lavish
all her being which
beats in her bald heart
in moon rain that falls

Perhaps someday
she’ll grow like Ani
she of the beatific smile
and sweet voice
radiant beyond measure
sublimated

until then she will wander
bleeding, stanching
tears or blood
who is to know?

Another outing

This outing has been too close on the heels of the previous one. Much as I welcome the opportunity to walk on quiet roads, it is also a reminder of a bleak reality. I’m early and it seems pointless to go back home and come out again. So, I sit on the pavement under a gulmohar tree and look at another which has already started its summer dance.

Perhaps if I were not responsible for other lives that depend on me, I might have just remained outdoors. It is beautiful without the debris of human activity. Crisp mornings, azure skies, sounds of unseen creatures and beloved tree friends make it a world that is more than enough.

The cops are out in good measure, a wall of containment in a city that is contained within containment. An ambulance careens through the opening in the barricade, siren wailing and suited bodies in the windows. A motorbike escapes in its wake and there’s a dash to catch the errant biker but he’s gone. The momentary excitement lapses into silence and all I can hear are insect sounds. There’s a tantalizing whiff of jasmines although I can’t see it anywhere. Perhaps, it is coming from the compound of the reserve forces. The masked policemen sit on plastic chairs, swatting flies and chatting at a distance.

At a little distance is the spot where I used to commence my runs. It used to be a pause, the setting of the watch or app before the propelling into a distance, never knowing how it might turn out. Some days would be effortless, a few days were written off. Mostly, they were an endeavour. I want to go back, injury be damned. I want the taste of that sweat and the exhaustion of brutal runs. Maybe it’s an empty that is missing.

The wind changes direction and I can smell cowdung, it’s probably coming from the compound where the families of the forces live. In another time, I’d walk through the almost village with its idyllic scenes played under old trees. Children playing, women sweeping the yards, old men sitting on verandahs, rookies working the land. It would be a suspension from city busyness to dip into a slower pace of life.

I could spend the day here, on a pavement, below a tree. But…

A stranger life

I’m not a big facebook fan and end up using it mostly in the course of work. So, I saw a message from a stranger almost a month later and it was a curious thing. This person had figured a few of my blogs as well as my name through them and was intrigued about a lack of face on my saree posts enough to want to reach out. Sometimes, I do that too, reach out to people although it’s mostly because of words. It got me thinking of how people connect in this century and also why. But that is for a later post.

In pandemic times, our interactions have changed in their texture. There’s either a frantic need to maintain old socializing in a virtual avatar or a retreating into journals, books, letters and blogging. So much of our lives are about places we go or things we do and so being confined brings very little to conversation as exchange of raw thoughts can be frighteningly intimate.

Yesterday, technology gave way. My internet device went bust and later the phone hung. It refused to shut down or restart. And truth be told, I was relieved to be disconnected. After trying without success to reconnect to the call I was on, I calmly put aside everything and wrote a letter. Then an entry in my journal to mark the day and a book in bed before sleep stole on me. I slept for 12 hours straight.

Today has been reflective, a little despairing, mildly cynical, a tad bit impatient and curious too. I could attribute the shaking of a steadiness to a variety of factors perhaps the last two books I finished? In case you want to know, they were Disgrace and Giovanni’s Room. They were recommendations from another stranger. Sometimes I think it is easier to exchange digital words with people one never needs to know. Days like these make me want to crawl into a cave. But life has a penchant for teasing and torments by denying what one seeks.

The shrieking parakeets this morning reminded me of this khesh saree and so it became the accompaniment to my day…

I sat calmly listening to a an old woman who needed to talk, a young girl who was frustrated about being unable to go cycling. Behind the eyes which were with them, there was impatience to get back to my page where a half written sentence demanded completion. Eventually, time made itself available but the need to finish the line dried up like the ink in my pen.

In the midst of all that, a friend prodded me to do something I wouldn’t ever have considered. But I said yes, spontaneously. It felt right although I didn’t expect it to move at the pace it did. I’ve mostly gone where the river of life has taken me and so far it’s been interesting. I suppose one can liken the river bed across miles to the constancy of one’s personhood and the different features along its course as the various experiences one encounters – enriching, depleting, polluting, reviving. Along the way, it’s song meanders through joyous notes and plaintive ones, furious thundering and quiet whispering. Eventually the waters will spill into the ocean and all those songs will drown into a majestic silence. I find myself with a longing creep in for that soundlessness.

The many moods of Water

I saw a short film yesterday, The Swimmer  and it set into play so many flashes. The poetry of Derek Mahon (he’s a discovery), the beautiful capturing of the moods of open waters and Redmond’s moment 20 miles off shore.  Just like the slashes of Mahon’s poetry, my memories of running, swimming and the sea coalesced into a private film. The lines read by the poet in the movie reminded me of a few lines I wrote to myself a couple of months back, mesmerized by the sea. 

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The water was just right, like the temperature of breast milk or maybe the fluid in the womb. Warm, alive as though it had a heartbeat. Walking through that was such a sensory immersion, the smell of salty air, the sand shifting below my feet, the touch of moisture in the air and the incredible expanse of sky and water. What if one walked into the sea to die? What would that moment feel like- the one of no return as water burns into lungs?

And one from 2017

In the meanwhile, I found pleasure in swimming while also discovering deep silences under water. The breath has started to become a friend as I let go and surrender to the flow. It is a different experience to be suspended in a medium which can either support or swallow you. As an element, it’s an interesting one to explore through its different aspects. Benign, malevolent, neutral. Three different states- ice, water and steam, all with different gunas. Water in the womb, water in our bodies and on our planet. Universally used by all that lives…  Quite like the secrets of water under open skies. They invite you to dive deep and dissolve. After all, isn’t life really a preparation for dissolution? A bit like all asana being preparation for savasana…

And another one

Winter is melting into summer, rapidly. The water in my matka is just the right degree of cool to quench my thirst. The pool waters provide buoyancy and resistance as I swim. My thoughts flow one into another until they bear no link to the original thought. I feel water everywhere…

Free flowing and stagnant.

Life sustaining and suffocating.

Terrifying deluge and gurgling brook. 

Thundering waterfall and the silence of a mother’s womb. 

Meandering rivers and gigantic waves. 

Baptism waters and bearer of ashes.

Finally, I was reminded of the movie, The Shape of Water and it’s mute beauty. But that one is a separate post.

In the meanwhile, I wait for a pandemic to spend itself so I may find my way to the ocean and submit to its incredible silence.