Thursday, December 31, 2015

lost passion

What is that one passion which you would love to restart in your life again? #lostpassion

The passion to challenge limits.
The passion to define my own rules.
The passion to kick away at the gates of pain.
To not give up in the face of overwhelming odds, and to not take No for an answer.
To just live life, loving all, hating none, holding no grudges.

I wish to bring myself back on the paths which almost always passed through the beautiful jungle streams, and vast green meadows. The paths which also went through steep rocky inclines which kill every muscle on your limbs and squeeze your lungs. The very same paths also stung you with the harshest sun, and made you shiver at the coldest night and often stung with insects, thorns and what not.

I wish to bring back the passion for action on the spur with the wind on my face, blood pumping, and vision clear.

To take off, get lost, get stamped out, defeated and to rise again and touch the sky. Just to get back home, and enjoy life all over again

However content one might want to be with all the good graces in life, one who has tasted the life on the edge, finds it particularly hard to find the green meadows juicy. Weaknesses allow for temporary shift in everything, but fire within just refuses to die. Just like a tiger in the wild which doesn't waste its time on someone else's kills, and takes pride in its own ability to hunt, such people still stoke the fires of this dangerous passion which unfortunately the current society isn't ready to accommodate so well. And of course, to point at others alone is pure hypocrisy.

Ultimately, like the infinite circle of the yin-yang, the conflict between the creators and the preservers will go on forever, and we all perform minute roles to complete the much much larger circle of life, as it goes on revealing its true nature as and when ordained.

And of course - Freedom. In my opinion, one of most hyped, least understood and most misquoted concept of modern humanity.

May you be free enough to free yourself from the misconceptions of freedom which has kept the very concept of freedom lacking in its pure essence, if there might be one such.

Jungle Diaries - A prologue

Memories of those days start from the initial impressions received about the entire activity from a friend. After hearing about the stories and the possibilities of volunteering for the wildlife cause, my imagination was triggered. Though I was somewhat skeptical and unsure about the whole thing at first, I decided to send in my application. At the time of submission, I was unsure if I would be selected, owing to my lack of prior experience, and I also had my tight schedules at work to deal with.

Within a few days, I was fully focused on matters at work and had forgotten all about this. Only when I received a mail notifying me to report to the Bannerghatta range, did I realize that I have been selected. But I was disappointed at having been allocated a semi urban reserve and tried hard to get in touch with the officials to get to know more about the reserve. The range officer in charge was rather welcoming and wished me to come over and have a 'nice' time. On my question as to whether any serious wildlife spotting could be done, his response was negative. I also realized that re-allocation wasn't possible without connections. So I let that idea rest.

Now, I was in a real fix. Being the first time I was attempting such an activity, I didn't want to spoil it over my higher expectations. On the other side was my manager whom I had to convince to get a week's leave from my responsibilities. After a bit of reflection, I decided to go ahead, as I knew I would enjoy it to whatever extent possible. Fortunately, my manager was supportive of the cause and asked me to prepare well and get back alive :)

Upbeat with this, and with support from friends, I started preparing for the one week stay in the earnest. It was during this time, that I noticed an NGO calling for volunteers for the same census to Bandipur National Park. I decided to try my luck and dropped my name into this list too, and to my fortune got selected through this list. Excited to be able to enter the famed tiger reserve on foot with official backing, my preparations went on with renewed vigour.

The clock ticked and finally the day was near. I had just finished 2 years at work, and after a memorable team lunch, I waved goodbye for the longest leave I had taken till then in my career.
With my bag packed with essential camouflage and equipment, I set off to Mysore, my old base for last minute acquisitions. With the help of some good friends, I got the much needed sleeping bag and binoculars as well.

Counting my lucky stars, and motivated by all the support, I set out alone early next morning, towards the jungle with high spirits, not fully knowing how my life would never be the same again.

To be continued..

Story of a wooden log

Once upon a time there was this fine log of wood. It belonged to a mammoth tree, deep in the western jungles. After being cut down by the woodcutter, it had travelled through dense jungles, various wood mills, on several bullock carts and ships to reach its current place with this carpenter.

It was not a very nice shaped log of wood, and naturally its brethren were all made into exquisite pieces of furniture or sent up to the royal carpenter. At least that is what it heard from the other logs present around it. It, on the other hand was left with this poor carpenter without even being polished once. It held its breath and expected to be picked up, each time the carpenter came up to the storage to find logs for his next piece. Each time it had to be content with watching some other log being taken away.

Due to this nature of events, the log often faced a lot of ridicule from the other pieces. As days went by, the carpenter went on adding the pieces to various pieces of furniture he was making. But this log never got picked even once by mistake.

As the number of pieces started diminishing in the workshop, the peculiar piece often worried whether it will be left alone in the dinghy workshop. It often lamented its fate that when all the others went to large mansions and served their purpose well, it could do nothing but wait in the dark store room for an eternity.

Many months went by thus, and the piece had begun to wonder if it should try rotting itself out so that carpenter would be forced to put it out of its misery. It was on one such dull morning that the carpenter strode into the workshop and instead of picking up the usual square blocks, his hand reached for this one and picked it up. Quite taken off guard, the log started quivering with fear. It thought that the carpenter was planning to throw it away or even worse, turn it into saw dust!

It continued to shiver as the carpenter went to work on it with his tools. It was then that the carpenter picked up his sharp saw and gripped the wood hard, his eyes glowing like fire. Terrified, the wood piece knew its life was ending, and shut its eyes.

A faint knocking and vibration woke it up. It tried to figure out its own form, and was glad to find itself in one piece. But it hurt where the saw had left its marks and some parts of him were now shaped differently. It found itself staring at darkness, but could hear faint murmurs of wooden pieces and after listening intently, it caught conversations that it recognized. Those were its former companions from the same tree. "Where am I? What could these logs be doing here?" - though the log to itself.

It decided to find the answer and shouted out loudly to its kin. When they responded, it put forth its questions to them and to its greatest amazement it discovered that it was now present in the royal court of the Maharaja. It couldn't hold its tears of joy. But yet again kept on asking further, and could only get to know that it now adorned a royal piece of furniture and the other pieces didn't know anything as it had come late in the night covered with satin. So they advised to wait till daybreak to figure out things.

The piece of wood couldn't sleep that night and impatiently waited for daylight. It must have dozed off in the tiredness of all the excitement and woke up with the sound of conch and drums. It could make out hundreds of gold plated men holding weapons standing in two neat files on its two sides, and behind them stood several men and women dressed in beautifully colourful attires. It could make out lines of trumpeters and drummers playing their instruments with vigour as various colourful flags fluttered in the breeze.

Its eyes immediately rested on a cushion seating adorned with gold and satin, and recognized one its kin among the pieces of wood that held the cushion. Quite happy to find a familiar face, it wanted to ask it hundreds of questions about the strange place it was in. But then it saw all the other pieces set in similar pieces of furniture, now lying vacant behind the beautifully attired men. They all seemed to have their gaze fixed on him, and with respect. He was puzzled. Only until the fully decorated and marvelously glittering king came forth and walked towards him, did he realize what has become of him.

Such is the story of that peculiar piece of wood, who had a twist of fate and found its place in the society. And what position would have suited someone as peculiar and unique as it was, other than the supreme ruler's jade crested throne? This story underlines the learning that not everyone is made to serve the mundane everyday purposes of life. There are some who are destined for special roles that call for special skills as well as pains. That is what makes life beautiful.

Adios and have a nice end to the wonderful year :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Diwali musings

Lying on a dusty bench on the platform, with my eyes shut, I was trying to catch a few minutes of rest. Hardly a minute would have passed, when a loud rumbling noise woke me up, and I found a column of dust settling down on me. As I struggled to cup my eyes and mouth to prevent the dust from entering in, I caught a glance of the source of interruption.

The rumble of clanging wheels and screeching brakes turned into a cacophony of human voices as the passengers milled out of a multitude of exists - doors, windows and emergency exits as well. Rubbing my eyes, partly to clear the dust and partly to clear the sleepiness, I could see black forms of people carrying an odd assortment of bags and baskets, chattering loudly. Loud enough they were for this unearthly hour, and the language too I couldn't make out. But it sounded a bit like Odiya/Bengali and I tried to read the train's plate in the dim light. I could make out Howrah in the name and assumed these were migrants, and judging from their assorted luggage, mostly labourers.

They talked with high energy, and in my sleepy state I imagined them to be relatives coming to visit their kin working in Bangalore for the Diwali festival, but I realized I could be wrong by miles. Slowly this mass of people moved on to the railway station's exits and silence descended once again on the railway station. The cold wind had driven the passengers waiting for their trains and the vagabonds to seek refuge under their warm clothes/blankets. Many fully shrouded figures lay sprawled or hunched over the otherwise deserted railway station. Some were still moving about, mostly trying to find a good spot to keep them warm.

After a few more minutes of scanning the scene, I decided to get back to my pseudo nap. Hardly an hour had passed since the announcement was made about the train's delay and there were couple more to kill. I adjusted my backpack to get the softest parts right underneath my head and closed my eyes, telling myself to take a controlled nap. I must have dozed off for 10 minutes, before the buzz and bites of the blood suckers harrowed me out of my peaceful existence.

Unable to sleep, I lie there thinking of the exams I had and felt the tiredness grow within me. Having sent my wife ahead of me, I was supposed to write my exams and catch up with her at Chennai for out first Diwali. Suddenly, feeling the strong urge to jot down after a long time, I sat there keying with typos on my phone's notepad app. The last minute preparations, tiring journey to the exam centre, and the nerve racking exam itself. All these floated past my mind in those few minutes of reflection, slowly drawing away the tiredness.

Catching the shady figures moving around from the corner of my eye, I decided to stop the jottings and catch a final session of rest hoping not to fall into deep slumber before the train finally arrived. I was glad for this solo journey, having had taken a long break from it for over a year. Like the hundreds of life forms that take refuge in the crevice of a rock or a tree, such pockets of solitude offer much to the creative life forms within your head.