Last week I went to Varanasi and Gaya on a pilgrimage. Few thoughts from the trip.
Of the 10 people in the compartment, all of them are into their cell phones. No one looking out of the window or reading a magazine. No wonder I did not see a book cart on the platform.
One passenger started a philosophical discourse not bothered if he has an audience or not. Some people start talking assuming other people want to listen. They never think otherwise. Thank god for earphones.
Another, thought, if he can survive in this world, can’t I find a corner?
We are so focused on our lives that we think the entire world lives the same way. But, when we step out, it breaks the illusion. Life is possible in so many ways. Travelling helps.
Train crosses so many nameless towns & villages. So many places to live. You could disappear into any of them with no one knowing. Just ditch your cellphone.
Met an IIT guy. Envy the opportunity he is seizing. Truly, life is made of not only the opportunities we make use of, but also of the ones we miss.
No cellphone network. Going off the grid is so freeing.
I see a man cycling on a lonely road in the fields. I envy him. Is his life peaceful than mine? It surely does look so, from my AC compartment.
Saw a hawker selling books on a wheel cart in Allahabad. All in Hindi. Should have bought one for keep sake. ‘Never read a novel/story in Hindi.
Don’t trust your memory. Though this is my third trip to Kasi, I’m surprised at the details I forgot. The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory. Next time note down.
A night stroll on the ghats of Ganga. Enjoying the silence. Water can cool you down. It brings-in peace. When was the last time I did not hear any vehicular sound or saw a horizon not lit with lights?
A deep calm is then shattered with unwanted messages on my cell dragging me back into a vortex I wanted to escape. Lesson learnt: peace and cellphones are inversely proportional.
No matter how much beauty is in front of you, you’ll not enjoy if you’re not at peace.
Peace cannot have conditions to exist. Because if it does, it means it cannot exist without those conditions. If it cannot exist without conditions, you’ll always have to ensure that the necessary conditions are met. Which is again a worry. Which means you’ll not be at peace. A paradox. Peace just exists. It requires no conditions. It is attainable at this very moment. And, since it is not based on conditions, it cannot exist outside. Its inside.
Walking on the ghats of Ganga in the afternoon without slippers should be treated as torture and harassment and punishable by law.
Saw Ganga harathi. A beggar started dancing. Not in reverence to the hymns but in defiance. She seemed to say. “All you fools keep praying.. When did the lord help you? Look at me. This is where he left me.. in poverty.. turn around and see the beggars around you.. So many street hawkers.. ₹10 for this and ₹10 for that. What would you get for ₹10? and yet you pray to him.”
An old man stopped opened his wallet and donated a rupee to a beggar. The beggar thanked him and walked away. The old man had a pained expression on his face. “I know what I’ve given you is insufficient, I’m sorry. But, I cannot give you enough.” Then he turned towards the lord joined his hands in a namaskar and bowed his head. “Take care of him lord”. Was, it my projection on him? Or did he just want the lord to see the charity he did. But, I’d like to think he was pained.
Frederick Nietzsche surmised religion was for the weak. Is it?
Saw an old man playing ‘bansuri’ — flute on the ghats of Ganga. I stopped for a second to listen. He was very old and frail. I didn’t know if I could give him money when I noticed he was also selling picture books of Kasi. I took one for ₹10 and handed him a ₹50 asking him to keep the change. He was so happy and his face lit up like a 1000 watt bulb. He thanked me profusely and started to converse with me in English. I was surprised. He spoke well. He played bansuri for me after which I thanked him and left. Why did I give him ₹50? To show my superiority? To show god I did charity? To ease my guilt? No. I think I gave him because I understood that life was inherently difficult, and that he had work for his daily bread at that age and in this climate just proved how much he struggles to eek out every day. I think it was my acknowledgement of that hardwork he has to put in just to survive. An acknowledgment of a kindred spirit.
Never read so much hindi in my life. Some, funny names I found: A wine shop read — ‘angrji sharab ka dukaan’. A pollution check centre read — ‘Pradooshan jaanch kendra’
Was reading in my Kindle. Wouldn’t have noticed the rain outside the window had it not been for the lightening which brought my mind to the present. How many such small but significant moments do we miss because our mind was not in the present?
Taking the evening stroll on the bank of Ganga, you wonder what a beautiful scene/time. But, your mind keeps churning the same old thoughts and same old worries. If someone looks at you at the moment, it’ll look as if you are at peace. But are YOU at peace?
There’s something in these waters and this part of Kasi where all seem to be concerned only about spirituality. Not getting ready to office or school. We wakeup to a race everyday. What does a sadhu here wakeup to? Peace? Survival?
Travelling brings-in so many new experiences, so many perspectives. It broadens our narrow view on life. Travelling helps.