Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I think Happiness is one single thing that could be singled out as just one thing that people singlemindedly pursue, whether it is Beijing, Bangkok, Paris, Sidney, Dublin, New York or Timbuktu. We look around for things that make us happy. A friend to share a joy or sorrow, a new shawl, A tube of sparkly lip gloss, a new shag rug for the living room. M S Subbalakshmi singing "Bahvayami Gopalabalam", a nice book to read, falling in love, owning an Ipod, going on a vacation, getting time to exercise, having a clean home, money, success, fame, health...all these things just lead to one simple feeling - happiness.
I just looked around to see what happiness means to different people. Some find it in working a lot, some find it in shopping, some look for it in creating things, some discover it in depriving others of it :-) But the ultimate destination of all pains taken is to enjoy the fruit of happiness. finding true love, having enough to not worry about finances, having people you love around you, having a pet, being in pink health, having a head of lustrous hair....All these things are just happiness waiting to happen to you around the corner.
But is finding it the ultimate goal of life? Why do religions speak about finding God in pain, why do poets dwell on sorrow and proclaim that the sweetest of songs are about the saddest of thought? Why do tragedies become classics and blockbusters? Is it just the yin and yang of a human brain? Or does it have more to it?
May be all sadness also ultimately leads to one thing - happiness.
The pursuit is on right now, right here in every nook and cranny of the planet. Sometimes compromises are made to get to it - sometimes it is found in the sorrow of others unfortunately, sometimes it just exists there but we are too caught up in finding it that it just doesn't occur to us that it was right there all along.
Before actually going on an odyssey to look for it, we all should just stop and look around. We will be astound by the joy we find in simple things. A flower in bloom, a child's smile or a playful puppy playing with the carpet fringe. Happiness - as complicated as it is simple. But is it not our own mind that makes it look this way or that?


My older sister made me turn a little shade of green when she played a Carnatic composition on veena during my visit to India. She started learning a year ago and is already half way thru being above amateur level. The younger sis is already a trained vocalist and as if it is not enough, she is learning, nay - gulping down piano notes like a glutton. Glutton of music notes that is:-) I see that playing an instrument was a age long dream of mine. I used to yearn to learn how to play Violin. I still do actually. Mandolin Srinivas is an idol I seriously worship. Lisa Robertson of QVC makes me admire her that much more just because she is an accomplished violin player. Give me a trained musician that plays on an instrument and I'll be all over him/her.

Just the other day, on the eve of Christmas, I saw a band of young musicians play Christmas carols in the mall. Sarat and Aarti went for a stroll and I tried and captured as many pictures of them as possible with my SLR. I wish I had a camcorder instead of a camera since the former would have captured the sound waves that penetrated the air making it look and feel like Christmas. I listen to Chaurisia's flute and dream of creating music like him. I would actually easily be impressed if someone would as much as whistle. Music, specially instrumental has always been a magnet that attracts a log of iron (that would be me!)

Sneha's sister plays the Tabla, My maternal uncle learned Mridangam and I actually wanted to learn it with him but I was too young and too ignorant of the fact that one day, very soon, I'd be three decades old and would regret, deeply regret, not learning it. Well, I seem to be surrounded with people who are proficient in one thing or another and I sit here, pondering over what soul-stirring music does to me.

The best visual, actually audio visual that comes to mind when I think of my Jaipur vacation is this grand old man, clad in the dirtiest of dhotis, wearing glasses that seemed to be piles of pieces cut out of a Pepsi bottle, playing a tiny, uncomplicated instrument. I captured it in my camcorder and I can re-live the whole experience of being in Ameri palace just by recollecting that soulful melody. So be it the old man begging for alms or Yanni playing accolades of The Taj - instruments have always been instrumental in inspiring me.
For now, I play the keys on my laptop, envisioning it to be a piano...wait, I am Norah Jones! May be I am not playing music, or may be I am - in my own melodious way! And while I am at it, may I actually ask the audience to leave a trace of their effort of listening to my music?

Monday, January 05, 2009


It has become almost an ordeal for me to keep the home neat and tidy. I seem to diligently scrub, mop, clean and wash all day only to find more scrubbing, mopping, cleaning and washing waiting to be done. The car gets dirty, the carpet loses its spring, the television screen attracts little specks of dust and the the stainless steel kitchen sink becomes dull and jaded by the end of the day form all the soap scum. I seem to vacuum and scrub, vacuum and scrub, vacuum and scrub ( not in that particular order) whole day and get sick and tired of it.
The upkeep applies to everything. My hair that shines and bounces the day it is washed gets slick with all the overactive oil glands in my scalp the day after it is washed. My skin gets all shiny, flushed and red by the end of the day and the tummy growls of hunger from time to time indicating the want of fuel to keep the body machine going.
Relationships require upkeep as well. I stay in touch with the people I wish to stay in touch with and lose touch with the people I wish to lose touch with. Or it is more like if I maintain the chain of communication the relationship exists - otherwise it vanishes.
So, Maintenance is more of an appropriate word. I cuss about the cleaning ever day and being the order obsessed Virgo I am, I succumb to the pressure of keeping the house clean. Aarti contributes to my nerve grinding by scattering her toys through the length and the breadth of the house, leaving melted ice cream spots on the floor and getting her moonsand into the carpet an area rugs. I am not even mentioning the laundry that gets piled up everyday.
So I just wanted to give maintenance a philosophical twist. What if we let the debris of ill thoughts pile up in our mind? What if we do not give much importance to cleansing our insides that produce toxins of feelings day in and day out? Does our mind require as much upkeep as our bodies and homes demand? Or is it just convenient to mask our mental ugliness with the likes of hypocrisy and false virtues? May be it is. That is probably the reason why we see so much of hate, hard feelings, jealousy, selfishness, vanity and harshness around us. We perhaps spend more time looking without and maintaining the external things that exhibit themselves as a reflection of ours and the soul that actually matters gets tarnished in the heap of filth accumulated form non-maintenance. How wonderful it would be , if we could just take our souls out and rinse them under the tap like those cylinders that come in the home air purifiers? Would all the scum run in water and leave us with crystal clear souls?

I think it is possible. It just requires practice. All we need to do is weed all the bad stuff out and keep our souls clean. Would the world not a wonderful, clean place that way?