Thursday, May 28, 2009

Paper Boat Little

As a little kid, I never studied in school. I hated tests and exams and never scored. In fact, whenever I used to get a graded test back, I would neatly fold the papers into quarters and twist the corners to make a paper boat! We loved our boats. You could throw away a dozen paper planes with no care nor worry, but a boat had to be watched and helped and nurtured for it to sail the distance.


[Image credit - http://moonmaid.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/paper-boat.jpg ]



Call it a sign from above, but the lower I scored on a test, the better of a boat it would make. For the most part, out of sheer compassion, I never told my parents and teachers where and how did I lose my test scores. My partner in crime, 'Bunty' - the ideal student boy next door, never uttered a word either. We thought it was better this way ...


Within the limited confines of our society compound, was a shallow canal made to drive rain water out of the premises. At the end of the canal, the water went into an underground drain and we never knew what happened of it. Bunty had heard from the old watchman that it all went to the sea. And thats what I believed in, one never questioned the old watchman.


During the months of monsoon, I came home only on weekends, and Bunty and I would beg, borrow and steal all the umbrellas from our homes and neighbors, open them up in my living room and cover them all with bed sheets. This would be our make shift tent. Under the tent is where we dwelled, every once in a while we would surface to civilization and ask my mother for more food. It was a good system and we stuck to it. Occasionally when a neighbor had to venture outside, he would find his umbrella missing and come knocking straight to my house. These were troublesome times, as our neighbors umbrella could very well be in the very middle of our tent establishment, returning it would mean a whole lot of trouble, so we would take out an umbrella from the fringe and ask the uncle to exchange it later.


Every so often, when we were busy enacting our adventures under the tent, we would hear loud thunder and rain drops on tin roofs. And I would grab Bunty's arm and say ... " Suuussh, Listen!! " And as soon as Bunty would hear the rain, his eyes would lit up, and we knew fun times lay ahead. And up the tent would go, sheets pushed apart and we would scramble away out the door! Often times without bothering to wear shoes. We would rush into Bunty's room, grab some old papers, and my test results and run to the water canal. We would take turns to shelter the paper while the other made a boat, and on the count of three set our boats lose in the running water.


As the boats took off, we would follow them eagerly around the building - till they reached the drain grill, the boat to touch the grill first, won. It was simple, it was fair, and it was the most fun I remember. As our skill at boat making grew we got more creative with our canal, and place tree branches and bricks in the canal to make it interesting for our boats to navigate around. When we ran out of things to put in, we used our watchman's shoes! On one occasion, our watchman came in to work wearing rubber flip flops, as we tried to set up our obstacle course, to our delight, the slipper itself went floating all the way to drain grill. Knowing we couldn't use the flip flops for our course, we promptly returned them to the watchman - "These are no good, but your chappal won the competition today!" We offered our sympathies as best as we could. Needless to say, the watchman wasn't impressed.


On one such fun routine, as we set our boats to sail and ran around the building compound, we were particularly thrilled, this was going to be a close race, usually one of our boats used to get stuck on the obstacles, but today, luck seemed to be on our side and both our boats were clearing the hurdles - ever so gracefully. The rain was picking up, too much rain and it could flood the boat and it would never float again. There was only a limited window for our race to take place. As we rounded the last corner - running excitedly towards the finish line, I was positive, my boat would have no trouble clearing the last obstacle. I was right, my boat sailed through, Bunty's got stuck. And as we headed for the finish line, I relaxed and beamed up at Bunty with pride, as if to say .... "Hail the victorious!" Though when I looked, I saw panic in Bunty's eyes, "The drain! The drain isn't covered!! "


I immediately jumped to the ground, clawing in a last ditch effort to save my winner boat, but alas! It was too late, the boat had sailed through into the mysterious drain. As the realization hit me, I looked up at Bunty with moist eyes, "Where does this drain go! Come we might still be able to save the boat"


We did not know where the drain went, we had tried before. But Bunty being the gentleman he was, still followed me outside the building and across the street, to see where the canal might be connected. To our expected dismay we only found one open groove in the ground, this one filled with ugly drain water. Surely our canal did not socialize with such filthy structures. Dejected, with a head hanging low, I returned to the building.


"Don't worry", Bunty said patting my shoulder, "Your boat was brave, I am sure it will find the sea."

"I hope it does." I said, "My paper boat little!!"


"How much did you score on that test ?? "

"7/10 " I answered.

"You really aren't meant to study and score, its unlucky for you!" Bunty concluded.


*******


Often times, when it rains heavy enough, and forms rivers on the road, I am reminded of that day, and of that boat. Shortly after that incident, I lost touch with Bunty, his family moved out of our building. As the wet sprays of water drops hit my face, and the scent of moist soil fills the air, I remember our little game.


There is an innocence to childhood that does not breathe without honesty. No matter what the facts, as kids we had unquestionable faith in what was told. Perhaps its the part of childhood I miss the most.


Come to think of it, aren't all of our lives little paper boats. Fragile - with a ticking life span. Like the canal course, we do not know what hurdle our boat is going to encounter, nor what will come of it when it does. As dejected as I may be at times, I convince myself, I will find the sea. Bunty says so. And Bunty got it from the watchman, you don't question the watchman.


Made of paper, pretty and thin, floating away always, a branch and a spin. See my paper boat ... My paper boat little!!


- Sanket


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Sunday, May 17, 2009

KARMA ROCKS!!

I have an affinity toward trouble. In that if I do not get into trouble, trouble finds me ! And in a recent spot of trouble I had to accept help from friends. Be it a place to stay or an airport pick up - I had to rely on friends to get things done. What I found, truly surprised me. Assuming the negative, I was pleasantly proven wrong when my friends insisted upon bestowing me favor after favor. And when I resisted, saying I really could not accept - a friend simply said - "Its what you would do for me". At that, I rested my case, caved in and accepted their generosity - ever so gratefully.

It led me to believe that my good 'Karma' was actually coming to rescue. I am a science person, firmly grounded and rooted in the annals of logic, thus an abstract concept like 'Karma' - remained a purely theoretical idea for me. Until, as I mentioned, I was rescued and was forced to concede the possibility that there might be something more to it. Hence my attempt to encapsulate Karma into a logical albeit flawed theory - and thus this post.


I believe a person's 'Karma' begins the minute he starts to take conscious decisions. Given the ethics of each situation and a person's awareness of them, each action leads to good or bad 'Karma'. Sooner or later, people start to associate you with your choice of actions and what they mean. Call it a 'character-score' (c-score) if you will. Like a credit score that tells how financially reliable a person is, the 'c-score' reflects how trustworthy he is. If you keep a promise made to a friend, that friend bolsters your 'c-score'. If you lie/cheat on a person, your c-score is lowered.

Try to visualize your friends, as you see each face, you will realize you already have an established label to go along with it - trusty, selfish, arrogant, supportive ... etc We may not actually quantify what we think about a person, but we can certainly tell if we trust a person or not. When you go to a bank and ask for a loan, the bank looks at your credit score to determine - what are the chances you will pay back? Similarly, when you approach a friend and ask for a favor, the person intrinsically asks, what are the chances you will repay the favor? If your c-score is good, chances are, more friends will do you favors when you need them. Hence the immediate effects of good Karma.

However, I believe 'Karma' in fact does influence more than how your immediate friends respond. In fact one can safely say, Karma influences your chances of success in almost everything you undertake. Barring the essential ingredients of success: hard work, discipline and dedication, when all factors are accounted for and success hinges on pure luck, it is Karma that affects the outcome. Acting acts as your guardian angel - it knows how good you are as a person, and how much do you really deserve success. When all logical reasons are exhausted, it is Karma that bends the arch of opportunity and gifts you happiness.

Skeptics may find this explanation lacking in proof. I offer no proof, just a theory. Every so often, the outcome we hope for, depends on factors we do not control. It may depend on the whim of a person we do not know, who has the deciding power to grant or deny you. I felt this way when I was nearing the end of my Visa interview. There is no way of telling which way the pieces are going to fall and if you will get what you want. Yet, if you have good 'Karma' - the pieces just might trickle down in the order you are pining for.

Consider for a moment, the entire living human population. You make friends, your friends make friends and so on. Thus, a stranger you meet, might be a stranger to you, in that you haven't personally interacted with this individual yet, but you can rest assured that you have touched this person through a chain/network of people you have built. Like they say, we are all connected to each other. A cliche, more veritable today than one might have thought in the past. Thus when you build good Karma - i.e. behave ethically when there is no immediate gain for you, you influence a whole network of people positively. It might take years and decades to reach back to you. And thus the anonymous old woman I helped cross the road years ago, might trickle down a positive influence that led my Visa officer to grant me my dream. 'Karma', often has latent effects.

Yet, in all fairness, this explanation is a long shot from what one might call 'complete'. Is it ever possible to completely capture the reasons of every bad/good thing happened to you? I think not. May be - we will never know - if our Karma patted us on the back, or bit us in the ass. Still it simply makes sense, to be on the good side of Karma.

It is the all important one percent after you have put in your 99 cents of hard work. A self accurate system of cause and effect - which decides if its your turn or not. At the end of the line, you have to account for everything you have done. Some say, if Karma does not catch up to you in this life time, it will surely do so in the next. Who can wisely contemplate on what happens after death? Is it Karma that decides if we go to heaven or hell? I do not know, and I am certainly not going to die just to find out.

For what its worth, I might add, being a good guy really really sucks, you don't have the luxury to make your choices on what's convenient for you - but rather have to base your choice on what's right - which more often than not - is a harder path to choose. Yet, if you do, and if you believe you have built good Karma, I think it really does come to rescue when you need it the most.

In a roof over my head as shelter against a cruel night, in the warm smile of a friend when I was spent and fortune had turned aside. I have felt the existence of my guardian angel. In that moment when I had closed my eyes, and despite disbelief in prayer, prayed so hard - God please please please, just this one time. I have felt life soften in a dimple and seen Karma, save my Life.

- Sanket

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Beauty

Its amorphous, its abstract, its simple and yet not
It lies in the eyes of the beholder, some say ...
What is Beauty? Who can define ??


In the strange delusions of my mind,
I seek the answers, one step forward and two steps back
I find the answers, or just call them that


And I see Beauty,
In soft sounds of waterfalls,
When water hits itself
From just the right height
Its innocent clarity, powerful and fragile

Or in the muddled light from clouds
Grey and cool, before a rain
Neither evening nor night or day
Just clouds making their way
Yet claiming a piece of time
Making it their own, distinct and aloof
I see Beauty, in clouds of grey

And sometimes it springs, so hard to miss
I seek and find Beauty
In sunlight upon lips of red
Or the scent of wind caressing a waist

As a lover so often can
Walk across a room in flowing grace
And in a moment , the thousand thoughts of your mind
She can make you forget.

When I am sad, it does go away
Yet always comes back like a good friend
In derivations of math, or in notes of music
In the warmth of a touch, Or the wet of a kiss

What is Beauty? Who can define??
No one can tell, Yet its yours to find
If you keep an eye.

- Sanket

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Whispers in the dark ..

Oh Sleep, O dear Sleep
‘Tis been a while, I last heard you talk
I know what happened, I know it’s hard
Dreams lost color, Dreams went mute
My heart longs to hear again
Your whispers in the dark

Oh Sleep, O dear Sleep
So bitter, So sweet
You have been a friend for long
You have heard the screams
The Nightmares, And seen it all

O Sleep so bitter sweet
Do you remember me?
The little boy you cared for
And the sweet lies you told me
I never let know, I knew
I knew they were lies, the truth concealed

Oh Sleep O dear Sleep
Don’t get me wrong,
Would you rather have me pretend
That you never lied
Tell the sheets, I never cried
Truth hurt the day enough
Lest my nights be spared
I needed your lies

Oh Sleep, My dear Sleep
Remember me
I am a Man now, It’s ok
We know it was thrust upon
A rude harsh day without morn
Such a cold winter without the fall

My dear Sleep
Long have you cared me
‘Tis time I repay now
I fell in love and relinquished you
I’m not na├»ve now
The guard is set and the resolve strong

O Sleep so bitter sweet
Do you believe in God?
Run along and tell him
I call him a myth
With no use nor excuse
I am now my own God

My dearest Sleep
‘Tis the price I pay for a good heart
The bad ones go to hell they say
Why all the worry, Why all the bother
The good ones are punished alive
Enough is Enough

O Sleep, Hear me well
By Heart, Nerve and Sinew
I will bend this Destiny to my Will
And take what is rightfully mine
I deny the Fate, neither aid nor abide

O Sleep, Don’t be alarmed
That my words lose rhyme
Rhythm has many paths
Some walk on built ones
I just choose to build mine

O Sleep, My Dear Sleep
‘Tis been a while, I last heard you talk
Lets hear them again...
Your whispers in the dark

- Sanket

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