Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paisa Wasool weekend

My grandfather’s pen friend lived in Buffalo, very close to the falls. Having read her old letters with his consent (I know, it’s bad manners) several times each summer, I imagined her house to be perched right next to the Niagara falls.

This weekend we undertook an 8 hour journey to visit the great falls and came back in awe! Huge, scary, gigantic, magnificent, surreal and I ran out of superlatives. The sight is worth all the hype around it. For a moment, you forget where you are. Yes, with hundreds of noisy tourists around, the thundering falls still make you forget everything. My favorite memory of the falls is from the Maid of the Mist ride – facing the horse-shoe falls, standing as close as possible. The boat was stationary but the roaring waters played games on the gullible mind – one feels as if the boat is headed right towards the falls and you instinctly want to shout “Stop the boat!”

The route from Boston to Niagara Falls is monotonously scenic – so much so that after a while you no longer notice the lovely shades of green, the neat houses that dot the greenery, beautiful lakes, ponds and quaint little towns. Not even the menacing Hudson which keeps you company for hundreds of miles together!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Spiritually yours

I wanted to write for a very long time about something really close to my heart. I am not really sure whether it will rightly express what I want to share but I have decided to just go with the flow and not worry about what the post ultimately turns out to be.

Though the concept of Guru-shisya is not new to Indians, the need for a spiritual guide is still looked upon with much suspicion. With so many imposters exploiting people’s beliefs and commercializing religion, it is not difficult to imagine why. I like to draw an analogy of finding the right Guru to that of finding the right family doctor. Not a super-speciality hospital – but that one person who puts your family at ease, someone you can consult anytime and confide in him/her your deepest fears without worrying that he/she will make you run from pillar to post and charge you thousands if not lakhs of rupees.

Our Guru is the head of our family, and is dearly loved by one and all. For some, he is a lawyer who had a thriving practice at Indore, for others he is a philosopher who has traveled the world to spread his Guru’s teachings, and for some he is a ratna- parkhi –gemologist. However for all his disciples, who are part of a family, he is simply Dada!

Around May-June every year, at my Guru’s abode, the Gurupeeth, we celebrate Sri Dutta moorti sthapana utsav. The highpoint of the weeklong festivities is param pujya Dada’s address to his disciples. Every one eagerly awaits to hear what their beloved Guru has to say about the work done over the year and what advice he has for the year to come. It’s such a special occasion that everyone tries really hard to not miss being at the Gurupeeth for Dada’s ashirwachan.

My first memory of the Gurupeet is of the utsav in 1994 and the memory is as vivid as if it happened just yesterday. We were not Dada’s disciples then, or so we thought. My parents and I had travelled to the Gurupeeth from Parbhani which took us 12 hours by bus. We had met Dada at Parbhani for about 2 minutes and he in his usual, extremely generous manner invited us to visit the Gurupeeth for the utsav. And so we went. It was when we saw that thousands of his disciples had thronged from different parts of the country we truly realized the extent of his following. During his discourse that lasted for about 2 hours, everything he said I felt as if it was just for me. Now that I think about it, I am surprised that a 2 hour long spiritual talk in Marathi, not my strong language then, had such a powerful impression on a high-school going girl.

During his discourse, Dada mentioned that he was very pleased with the discipline that everybody had worked with over the year and casually mentioned that we would all experience that our efforts were appreciated. I didn’t know what he meant.

It was time for maha-prasad and as we were awaiting our turn, it started raining. It didn’t rain - it poured! It was a hot summer day in May and rains were totally unexpected. All the disciples were overjoyed. I was very worried because we had not carried any change of clothes as we were to return the same day. Looking at the dark clouds my mother told me that it looked difficult to catch the bus home. Another lady who overheard us told us not to worry as this was not any other rains but Krupa vrushti. And just as she said that, it stopped raining! With no damage done. My clothes just a little cold but dry.
I looked at the skies, they were clear again just like another scorching summer day. I couldn’t believe my eyes! But the people around me didn’t give this phenomenon a second thought. It appeared as if they were expecting this to happen!

That afternoon we sought to meet with Dada under quite unusual conditions. He was resting as the darshan time was over. Since we were new to the place and didn’t know any protocols, we told one of the volunteers to inform Dada that we have come from Parbhani because he told us to come. How na├»ve! What cheek! And lo! The volunteer returned and told us that Dada wanted to see us! The meeting itself is a blur but I still remember the happiness of meeting him. Over time we were fortunate to see him, hear his discourses, attend his programs in Aurangabad (where we moved to from Parbhani) and in a short span of 2 years he made us his disciples and took us under his wings.

The Guru-shishya bond, is as intimate and as divine as a mother-child bond. You can neither choose your mother nor Guru- it’s all part of the design God has for you. It was at K3’s insistence that we three requested Dada for his Upasna on May 5, 1996. The protocol is that a would-be shishya should offer guru-dakshina in the form of flowers, a coconut, mishri and a few token coins when the Guru gives him/her Upasna or guru-mantra. However since ours was an instantaneous decision we didn’t have anything to offer. But as we know now, these things hardly matter. K2 and I will always remain grateful to K3 for ensuring that we took the plunge when it was the perfect time – when we were young enough to follow our hearts and not as worldly wise to question everything.

It’s been 14 fulfilling years and our entire family and hundreds of friends and relatives have since become our fellow guru-bandhus and guru-bhaginis. Personally we have been through several ups and downs but because of the unshakable faith that our Guru is with us every moment, at every step on our journey, neither did we get carried away with our accomplishments nor did we feel crushed with the set-backs. We are grateful for the happiness and blessings that God has showered on us and are equally grateful for choosing us to go through the difficult times without losing faith. Every happiness has grown multifold because it’s shared with Dada and every trying situation has taught us a lesson and made us even stronger.

The 58th annual utsav celebrations started yesterday at the Gurupeeth. I so miss being there for the utsav. It definitely hurts that I am not there in person to see Dada and listen to his ashirvachan. But I am sure that he will send me a sign that he missed me as well!

Friday, June 04, 2010

I smell weekend

and there I warned you - nobody ever did anything productive in office between 3 to 5pm on a Friday, other than willing the clock to run a little faster. This is after all a silly blog!

I suddenly realized that I don’t remember the last time I listened to a song. How can that be?

There was a time when I recognized every Hindi film song old or latest (at the time) just moments after the music began. (Angrezi music was never something I understood or liked. I am so sorry A, I know the confession sounds totally middle-class. ;) ) I thought it was a big deal – it would be a deadly skill if I ever decided to participate in a film songs-based quiz. I told you I was ambitious.
Well it was also big deal because we didn’t have cable television and everything I knew about latest and old songs just came from Doordarshan’s dose of Chhayageet and Chitrahaar. And we didn’t watch many movies either. But I still knew and absolutely loved so many songs.

Somehow, don’t really know when I just lost touch. I was looking at the top Hindi songs of the last 12 months or so and I don’t know even half of the songs. I won’t know if it’s old or new. I dont know the picturization nor do I know which movies these songs are from. I am losing it and not liking it at all! I hardly listen to any music – not even bhajans which I am so fond of. Tch tch! *violently shaking my head* Time to make a lifestyle change. Okay, what is this post all about? Never mind - i have saved the best for last.

On the picture – isn’t it beautiful? 5 pairs of hands painstakingly, all the while ensuring that they didn’t get into someone else’s “territory” put this together in about 8 hours. How lovely!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Fun times

Boston doesn’t come close to San Ramon. San Ramon is a small picture perfect suburb which has a resort like charm to it. Set amidst rolling hills and grass dunes, the landscape is a wallpaper color coordinated to the last pixel. Rubbish the analogy, but I hope you get the picture.

So when K2 and M treated Mom and Dad to these visual delights for almost a month, in addition to introducing Dad to a whole new world of American sugar-freedom (the sweet sound of Splenda), K3 and I were worried for Boston. And then it was only when spring arrived that we started liking it here. Boston is a historic city which has an important place in America’s freedom struggle. Monuments, churches, cemeteries, squares, parks, ships, museums, etc you would have read about in the history books are all here. But to my parents, it’s just a good-to-know thing. We weren’t sure what would be their a-ha moment in Boston.

We were needlessly worried. In the last 10 days since they have been here we have had our share of divine, pure bliss moments and some more - simple things like bowling as a family, eating authentic Sambhaji-park type bhel alongside the river, running barefoot on the beach and watching the endless reruns of Sarabhai vs Sarabhai on youtube to name a few. We could have all been anywhere in the world at this moment and still could have had as much fun – Boston scores because we happen to be here at this moment.

(K2 –Chicago remains the greatest city ever. Hyderabad and Pune come a close second, okay?)