Monday, March 28, 2011

A few stray thoughts

“Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth evolution.” Shri Aurobindo Ghosh. Great spiritual souls do not lie, yet what seems so near is still so far. Do humans have the potential at their disposal, have all physical evolution been completed, what then is stopping humans from taking the next step? I think it is the ability to look inwards. In this world where ever I see, I find people absorbed in observing whatever is going on around. It could be the life of a celebrity, it could be a movie, a song, dance and music, it could be the forest, wild life and mountains, it could be a powerful or luxury car and apartment, it could be business empire or political empire, it could be sex or crime, it could be food and drink, it could be sport, it could be advising, lecturing or research. All these outbound activities have been going on for …… God alone knows how many years. However man has not become superman. A Buddha, a Ramakrishna, a Jesus and many such great souls who we also refer to as saints, hardly form a respectable percentage of the entire human population. They are the superman for their name still remains on the lips of ordinary folks with respect. The funny part is that they did not achieve anything worldly but they became superman simply by focusing their observations inwards. Others be it some celebrity or sportsman or businessman or ruler who live and prosper were and still are soon forgotten and buried in the sand dunes of time.

Another stray thought struck my mind recently. “This is Suman Bose (referring to my physical being and its activities). A lot of things happen to him and with him, some for reasons not known and some for no reasons at all. Then what is the point in bothering about what people think about him.” The moment this thought entered, it opened a huge door for a number of egoistic arguments to be happily thrown out. A lot of tension also went out along with the false and baseless arguments. Life became lighter. Later I was wonder struck by the simplicity of the idea. Of course not everything happening in the life of Suman Bose is because of unknown and thus uncontrollable reasons. There are many things or events which have deliberately made to happen to sustain the self. But even there, a choice has been made in such a way that the ego is protected or projected. Thus on a broad scale, I observed that too much effort is being spent worrying about what other people think about Suman Bose, how they perceive him. Suddenly now is the realization that how can Suman Bose help when events happen for no reason. When he can’t help then why should he care? Why should he care at all? Over the recent past I have undertaken the task to dilute and annihilate the ego inside. Slowly it is happening. Such new understandings arise to help. I have also decided to forego the car which my office gives me and use a two wheeler or the public bus transport from October this year. My partners will name me mad but then how do I care?


The last week I was at Goa and visited Margao once again. Goa for me is deeply immersed in nostalgia, the sweet and pleasant memories of childhood. We have stayed for about ten years in Goa from 1968-69 to 1976-77 and I did my primary schooling till the 5th standard at the St Josephs Convent, Aqen Alto, Margao. In August 2010 also I was there and at that time I went to my school and residential locality. This time I visited the city park and market place. The flight to Mumbai from Goa is at 2.40 in the afternoon and on both the occasions I had the entire morning at my disposal at Margao.

Goa of my childhood is a rugged, humid and mountainous place generously sprayed with the red Chira stone, dense with cashew, coconut and mango trees, traditional houses of stone and tiled roofs along with modern apartments, colorful tribal Gawdas and fun loving local Kokanis, sunday church goers and evening temple bells, public transport buses and my fathers’ jeep, boys crazy about football and gilli-danda, all my Christian and Muslim friends, nuns and fathers at school, popular festivals being Christmas and Diwali, the traditional beheading of Narakasur by Krishna and the Durga pujo by the Bengali diaspora, incessant rains for five months but no water stagnation, hot oven fresh bread and grated coconut Hooman curry, my on demand Phantom and Amar Chitra Katha comics, going for Tarzan movies with father and Rajesh Khanna’s with mother, my special friends Purshottam Patel, Anil Apte and Munaf, Purshottam and I had a fight and didn’t speak for a month; one day he followed me with his bicycle apologized and we were friends again (we were tiny kids of 5 or 6 years age), strict sisters (teachers) at school and the caring beautiful Neela didi at home, going with my mother to the city park and eating south Indian dosa at Kamat hotel, walking long distance (due to my tiny legs) to reach a friends place but the school was next door, participating in annual dance and drama in school competition under the direction of Manik teacher, other special friends Baaja (Shubhadra), Chandrakant and Girija, the Illustrated Weekly and the Sunday Standard, the smell of bangda, tarle and pomfret fish, popular industries being the saw mills and ore mines, the sadness in my heart due to my father’s regular heavy drinking and my mother unhappy crying, their constant quarrel loud and bitter, the fun moments of climbing trees and playing marbles, the very unhappy times when I got beatings with a belt from father and with her boney hands on my back from mother, the carefree roaming in the jungle for cashew fruit, the great achievement when regularly standing 2nd in final exams and receiving big picture books as gifts from the school, I could speak three languages fluently Konkani, Hindi and Bangla, pocketing small change when sent to buy grocery and using it for collecting stickers, match box cover and lozenge, the loud Chatterji uncle and his small wife - their son was a good friend, my brother Biki was born in Margao, the simplicity innocence and confusion of my sister Soma, travelling by train during December to Raniganj for a month holiday, Mankurad mangoes which tasted better than Alphanso, bombing scare during the Indo-Pak war; as soon as the siren sounded all lights were shut off and we went under the bed; car and jeep headlights were colored black upto the middle, tortoise flesh was sold in the fish market, plates filled with sweets used to go from house to house during Diwali, we used to sleep in the afternoon for an hour after school listening to Hindi songs on the Vividh Bharati.

Incidents, occasions, events, feelings and emotions; of various colors and magnitudes pass through my mind whenever I think of Goa. These memories I cannot forget. The smell, the sound, the sun and wind are still very real and they bring up a smile, sometimes a laugh, and sometimes a tear. Those days have long gone but still they remain fresh as if new. On this occasion I sat in the city park for some time, remembered my parents and thanked them. Structurally the park still remains the same but now there are more trees and flower plants. Margao has done well to keep the park alive even after thirty five years and pressure on urban space. A lot of things have changed but overall everything still remains the same. I observed my attachment towards my memories, my craving for the tension free days of childhood. I realized how much I have changed and yet still I wished to remain the same Suman of the past.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I was in Penn, Khopoli, and Alibagh the last week on some audit work. The client has a small office there looking after some infrastructure project along with guest house for their staff. I had stayed in the Penn guesthouse before and therefore when they asked what arrangements to make for me I told them that the guest house would be fine enough.

However when I reached the guest house I found that it was full and I was given to share a room with another staff member. Two parallel thoughts were going on inside me. One track said that I could not possibly stay in a room occupied by a stranger, I am the auditor and deserve some privacy and an independent room, how could I share the room with people who I am supposed to audit, if I stayed with them then I would become one of them and they would not listen to me, the staff will laugh at me if I degrade myself like this and stay with them. The other track in my mind said that, I have not caused this to happen and if it has happened on its own then there must be a good reason which I should accept quietly, I am not going to become less of an auditor by staying with common client staff, whatever happens always happens for the good, this is only a temporary arrangement and I have to leave the next day so why make an issue of it.

I could observe and hear both these voices. Both were trying to tell the other to give up, both were telling the other that it was more powerful. I said to myself that “Look I am a Vipassana student, so such temporary things do not affect me”. I told myself sternly that I am going to stay in the guest house without any fuss. The moment I reached the office I found myself tell the Accounts Manager that I would not like to stay in the guest house. He rearranged my stay at a nearby lodge but in the night when I reached there I did not like the look of the room. Finally they shifted me to a better hotel which I found acceptable. Oh what an ego! How difficult it is to overcome the grip of ego! I lay disturbed that night and am still not able to believe what I have done.

On the last leg of the tour I was at Kalyan and was required to reach the airport by 5.30 pm to catch the 6.40 pm flight back to Nagpur. I started from Kalyan which was at a distance of 60 kms from the airport at 3.30 pm with a comfortable margin of 2 hrs to reach. On the way there was a massive traffic jam and I could reach the airport only at 6.30 pm and thus missed the flight. All through the way I found myself irritated and agitated with the way the journey had turned out. One part of me was saying that, “how does it matter, even if I miss the flight I can catch the next one, or possibly take a hotel room for the night and catch the next morning flight. The client would foot the expenditure and I am not going to lose anything.” But the agitation inside did not stop. I received a phone call during this time but told the person to hang up since I was in no mood to talk. I was observing the antics of my ego and was helpless in front of it.

Both these incidents left me feeling very weak and not man enough. I could see my ego but could do nothing to control it. I have learned a lot from this episode and hope to gather the courage to face it the next time around and win. Mr. Sudhir Soman said that if I had not bothered about the delay taking place and just had accepted the turn of events as normal, focused on the scenery or on meditation; I could have decreased its strength and could have been in time for the flight. Dr. Aniruddha Gurjalwar says that Tapasya means to do exactly the opposite of what your mind tells you. To be able to fight off the overtures of the mind with faith and belief is essential to extinguish ones ego and move towards liberation.