Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tim baba...a blue eyed Hindu

On my way to Istanbul from Delhi; i met Tim baba. A blue eyed Hindu, a hippie, a freak - call what you will.... I first saw him when waiting to board the flight and saw him sitting on the floor - with his legs neatly folded; the way only Indians can sit comfortably.

I ignored him as a freak. A confused white man - looking for his soul in India...or a possible hedonist seeking salvation in sex, drugs and rock and roll at one of the Osho ashrams. But he had a beautiful smile....when he did smile - his eyes lit up. Dressed in orange, with a bandana and teeth which were almost yellow - the colour of sugarcane...he had a few beads hanging from his neck and was barefoot. Long flowing hair, which looked unkempt completed the scene perfectly.

As i kept my cabin baggage in the overhead compartment, i looked around and noticed that Tim baba was sitting next to me. I cursed my luck and swore under my breath. I was to share my almost seven hour flight with this freak ! The lord save me... I told myself.

The first half of the flight was spent in what i do best when i travel - Sleep. when i woke up; i noticed that Tim baba was still sleeping and i had missed my breakfast. I called the Airhostess and requested for breakfast. She obliged and in a few minutes; i was served my first sample of Turkish food.

Tim baba woke up a while later...and smiled his characteristic smile. I responded back and being characteristically polite; asked him if he would like to have his breakfast.

"Oh yes, sure why not ! " he responded.

The shared breakfast started the conversation....Tim told me of his travel back home. He was giong back to the UK. To his father's funeral. Tim was a 50 year old brit who had found salvation in India and in Hinduism. After a life long search for meaning and what he had to do; Tim accidentally came to INdia and found his true calling...

"Bhagvan ( God) brought me to India" he kept saying... "It is all his doing....destiny decides who you meet; what you do, how you live and what happens to you" he added.....

As someone living a life of coincidences, accidents and near disasters -yet, living with an open heart; i could not disagree. I somehow felt i liked this man. This guy who seemed so uncouth, savage, ugly....yet had a beautiful smile...a warm heart and an innate sense of life and what it means to live... He deeply loved his family and was going to say his final good bye to his father.

Tim was living in Hrishikesh and running an ashram, school and a medical centre for the poor.

We spoke about many things....both rational and irrational. Tim opened up to me...he responded to what was human in me. I responded to him. It was a good exchange - two strangers swapping stories of their lives....

We reached Istanbul a few hours later....and i gave him my card and we parted ways.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

why are we eating so much ?

India Today- India's national magazine did a survey recently and its findings are shocking. Indians eat every 2 hours on an average...and most of our eating is influenced by boredom, friends and everything other than hunger.

Does this explain why we are so obese ?? In my personal experience, I believe that we Indians are the most obese people on Earth ( with the exception of over-fed Americans). That is something we have in common with them other than the fact that for both of us - size matters ! The bigger the better seems to be the mantra....quality comes secondary in most aspects of life. The bigger car, the bigger house, the bigger bank account.....big, big , big ..............

We constantly eat, and then worry about losing weight. Weight loss is a national obsession in India. Right from TV ads on weight loss, the proliferation of weight loss clinics, the sheer amount of ad space dedicated to weight loss ads in newspapers, the amount of conversation that we have on weight loss is staggering. If we were to spend the same amount of energy on discussing India's poverty; iam sure we would have come up with some very concrete ways to eradicate it.

Middle class India's obsession with materialism is shocking...and this manifests itself in gluttony. Few people remember that it is one of the seven deadly sins.

So, before we address the question of why we Indians are becoming so un-healthy and why we are spending so much on cardiac surgeries; the simpe question to ask is : Why are we eating so much ?? This may provide many answers .......

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An age of new innocence...

What does this century need ? what skills, attitudes does this new age demand from us ? While the last century and early decades of this century were concerned with productivity, growth and increased wealth; this new century offers new challenges and is bringing us to a new crisis - one of a loss of innocence. Human innocence which cannot be quantified, taught or even cultivated. It either exists or it doesnt.

while industrialistaion and technology have made life more productive, faster and far more complex; something that remains constant is the need for human values. One of the biggest threats of technology is to human innocence.

Mobile phones, internet - are robbing us of our personal space. While there is more talk, there is less conversation. There seems to be an incessant chatter - an almost endless non-stop talk with no meaning most of the time.

Social networking, online dating, second life make it possible for us to live online without actually connecting with anyone in the "real world". Like one of my friends said "the only physical relationship i have is with my computer". This seems ironical but true that with greater technological advancements; we are becoming more distant.

cynicism, mis-trust and impatience with all aspects of life are becoming all-pervasive. It is so hard to be an optimist. We have lost faith in governments, the media, corporates. Religion offers solace to a few. There is limited faith in our relationships, friends seem to offer some solace; but all too often they drift apart.

The answer I think is an ability to have child-like simple faith in relationships. A simple faith in all things good and in human nature. A positive outlook towards life and people and the belief that ultimately human nature is good...despite the small deviations.

It is a new age of innocence that the world needs and the place to start is with oneself....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Listening to life...

Though we plan, work towards our plans and do all we can in our power to reach certain goals; at times it all seems to be aimless....

Life flows with its own force and its own direction and to force it to go in a different direction - by sheer will power seems foolhardy at times. While we need to be alert to the possibilities of what life can offer...i sometimes feel one must not so be stubborn so that one doesnt listen to life.

Every life is telling something.... though there is silence within; each life resonates with the divine or natural echo of what it is meant to do..

"Silence is the language of God, all the rest is poor translation" said Rumi. Perhaps we must just stop making so much noise...shut up and listen to what life is telling us.

Each experience, each person who has passed through our lives leaves something indelible. Only if we were to stop, reflect and listen ....