Me and My Magic Carpet.

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I distinctly remember that when I was a child the notion of magic came to me for the very first time while reading the story of Aladdin and the magic lamp. Magic at that stage of life meant “whatever you want, will happen.”

Magic at this stage of life still means, “whatever you want, will happen.” Even now, in my everyday conversations, many a times I refer to my imaginary flying carpet. In many situations I do feel much calmer imagining myself sitting on that carpet and just flying off. Now, thanks to knowing the real life the reference to the magic carpet has an undertone or overtone of sarcasm. But I must say, even now, I believe in magic, even though it won’t ever be obvious, but I so love the glee I feel when I think, that imagine if this could just happen, something which sounds super improbable.

Magic also requires complete suspension of rationality, logic and perhaps science too. But what it does require for sure is a very strong belief. And that belief will lead us to some place. I think. Just imagining that I have a magic carpet and all I have to do is sit on it and transfer myself somewhere else is highly unlikely, but when I do imagine it in my head, it feels real, I actually imagine cool breeze, no pollution of course but a calm traffic smoothly on the road below me. I don’t even care where I land, as long as I can fly on that carpet is all that matters. And it is true to our behaviour in life situations too, the moments we think were magical, they were never leading to anything or anywhere but they were so powerful and complete in those seconds primarily because we believed in the improbable.

Just before my teens, my magic carpet was my bicycle. I used to just cycle around for hours and hours, and the freedom I felt is still palpable. I was discovering freedom for the first time and that feeling that I can get away was awesome, it made me feel like an adult. The feeling of being far way on my own, from where I was supposed to be, but not yet knowing where I will be and the in between was the magic. Only when I came across a point where I felt scared or not safe did I turn the bicycle around and went back the familiar way. Well, sadly there was no magic in turning back.

Now, the magic carpet equivalent is a fight. It literally transports us from one place to another, takes us somewhere, anywhere, but all the planning beforehand makes the destination magical and not the journey somehow. For me, I don’t really care about the destination, as along as I have a magic carpet and all I have to do is sit on it and fly away. I will eventually get to someplace. 🙂

So, I guess magic is nothing but just a strong belief. A belief that something wonderful will happen despite of rationality, logic and science against you. Unfortunately, my damn flying carpet which is supposed to transport me somewhere else is not manifesting itself.

Van Gogh and other pointless thoughts.

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Yes, there is a lot going wrong out there and sometimes I feel guilty and shallow for enjoying things. But at the moment all I can do is pray for the sufferers, choose empathy towards friends and strangers and live and enjoy all that life has to offer.
Long ago I remember buying a book, a book which I usually would look down upon as I thought it was shallow and focussed on things that are not important. The book was the best of Vogue pictures of parties, people and places. Once it was bought I thoroughly enjoyed admiring the pictures, I remember telling a friend, “Why must one feel reality is only the struggle, poverty and the suffering? Reality also lies in beauty and perhaps indulgence.”
So, here is my indulgence at the moment, pontificating on my favouritest painting in the world. (I know favouritest is not a word).
It is called “Cafe terrace by night” by Vincent Van Gogh.
I don’t remember when and how I fell in love with that painting, perhaps during art school days. And over the years it is a painting that I love deeply and somehow it just calms me to see it. It is not an unhappy or a happy painting, it is just a sombre snapshot of someone’s neighbourhood cafe, these days we may see something like this on instagram with a hashtag of #myneighbourhoodcafe or something like that.
I have been looking at the painting and realised that my first impression was that of emptiness. The cafe looks like a place busy during the day but the quietness of the night makes you want to get away from it. The patch in the canopy gives it a feeling of well used and well lived a place by people and its owners and it looks nestled in a typical European street with houses around and people coming in and going out. I would like to think, like me Van Gogh was also focusing on the emptiness with vacant tables in the foreground, people and the quiet humdrum of activity at the back is incidental, like when we take a picture, we focus on one thing and many a times when we look at that picture later we realise the stuff that was happening around the subject.
There is so much of quietness in the painting that I feel even the sound of breath itself will bring life to it. When I look at it I don’t even hear the sound of shoes against the cobbled stones in a far away distance. The painting is from a point of view of someone who is distant, smoking a cigarette and with no thought just looking at the on goings of the cafe. Probably if you asked the observer what he saw he may not be able to recall as the painting feels like a moment when you are among a crowd but don’t feel your own body or mind and later on won’t even remember being in that crowd. The painter feels closer to the emptiness and not the people.
And most importantly, because oil painting in the only medium in which you first paint with dark colours and paint light colours at the end, it is similar to a spiritual journey in life. Yes, this is me overthinking it but going from dark to light and to lightness.
So indulgence is a journey, whether of enjoying places, things, people, moments and so on and so forth, but if we let it, it can take us to observing our indulgence and give us a sneak peek in who we are. It is just a matter of how close we are and how far at the same time.

When I am a kid.

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When I am a kid I can talk to anything or anyone.

When I grow up I will get the sense of “I”, “Me” & “Mine”

When I am a kid you are a friend and not a swan.

When I grow up you are a bird and I ain’t no Peter Pan.

Stuff That Legends Are Made Of.

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“I want to be remembered as a man who never sold out his people. But if that’s too much, then just a good boxer. I won’t even mind if you don’t mention how pretty I was.” – Cassius Marcellus Clay

So, some of us slept to or woke up to the news of Muhammad Ali dying.

When I read it, I gave it a moment’s thought and then carried on with whatever I was doing. Then a friend of mine who I was chatting with this morning for a long time on whatsapp about light hearted, everyday nonsense messaged me and he just said, “Muhammad Ali died.”, and I was like, “I know”.

At that moment I saw my friend’s face in my mind, and I saw a 40 year old man feeling and looking rather forlorn on this news. I saw him as a little boy in awe of Muhammad Ali, who, today is feeling sad, and not sad about reading a bad news, but sad like a close friend passed away. But Muhammad Ali was no close friend of my friend and then I was just thinking about why we need the Heroes in our life.

We need the Heroes because their stories, their struggle, their failures and triumphs make us feel we are not alone, someone else also went through it and managed to overcome. Heroes give us hope, that some day even I can be a legend, not necessarily legend in the world famous way but a legend in my day to day, we need the heroes because they inspire us to keep moving, and no we don’t think about our Heroes in our day to day lives, we just know that someone somewhere has made an impact on the way we see things and live life and in our quiet way we keep loving that stranger who we feel so close to. Heroes, give us the courage to be different, heroes make us channelise our passions into disciplines, and most of all heroes make us love a stranger unconditionally.

But the other side of Heroes is also that they are so big, so awe inspiring, so far that the mind can get confused between the Hero being the real person or a character created by this universe who is above us all, is invincible, someone who cannot be destroyed, someone who just cannot change and someone who will live on way after we are gone.

Our Heroes are not really are made of flesh, blood and bones in our minds. In our minds, our Heroes are made of passion, emotions, drive, courage, bravery, and strength. So when they die, we feel that life has cheated us, life made us believe that this ONE PERSON is invincible, is un-destroyable, and a constant, but was not. We get to know that unfortunately the Heroes are also made of flesh, blood and bones and they will suffer illnesses, they will become weak and they will die.

But the beauty is that in our minds, all we will remember about our Heroes is their passion, strength, things that made them different, things that made us worship them and we will continue to feel stronger and inspired and then we want to share the stories of our Heroes with our kids, our friends, our family and we make them live on.

Things we learn as kids.

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The other day while yakking with a friend of mine over a call and blowing small episodes into full blown details of a short story, I wondered where did that characteristic come from.

I kind of remembered that when I was a kid, after dinner I would sit on the coffee table in the living room, with my parents, brother and sister around and tell stories on what all happened at the school that day. All anecdotes were narrated with the intent of making everyone laugh or rather all anecdotes were what I found super funny and they generated laughter. I actually still do that. I remember when I left home for the first time to do my post graduation and after few months of having lived away and not getting home made food, when I finally made my first trip home, I actually sat and narrated all incidents around food for 4 hours and my father was amused, saying, “How can you talk about food for so long?”. Though, all incidents were amusing, the skill of telling a narrative in a long winded way and trying to inject humour in it is something I still do.

Which makes me believe that perhaps, because, as a child I was encouraged a lot to tell stupid stories I still look for stories in everyday life. And because stories come not only from knowing and observing what happened, the best part of the story comes from understanding why someone did what they did. From following that journey of the story and then arriving at the conclusion.

In books the stories end with sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle conclusion of that understanding, understanding of why the main character was doing what they were doing. It feels like, once we have understood the character, it is time or rather a natural end to the story after having gone through what happened in great detail.

As kids we don’t know that, we just know that was sooooooo…. funny or that was soooooo…. sad but as adults we get to know why it felt funny or sad.

The end is the understanding, or understanding is the end of every story.

The Heart of The Matter.

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There are times I am totally fascinated with us human beings. For all the intelligence and brains we possess we fail at life rather miserably more often than not. We see importance in things that are not important and fail to realise that everything is transient but what makes it consistent is our view and integrity towards life itself.

I know I am probably not making any sense with that but right now the words poured out and I am still trying to understand my last statement of “everything is transient bit….”. So here is what I may mean or mean by that….at airports I am quite intrigued to see when people pick up a wrong suitcase by mistake and immediately put it back realising it does not belong to them and that always gets me thinking, “we are so burdened with the idea of carrying the wrong physical baggage, we so don’t want to carry someone else’s dirty laundry but the emotional baggage that we carry around is something we are so comfortable with. Emotional baggage that makes us hurt ourselves, hurt others till we understand and overcome.”

We are ruled by our hearts and not our minds in our lives. Even our most practical decisions are practical because of conclusions we may have drawn due to emotional pain at some point. But, we continue to believe that we are practical, we think with our minds and what mind says is the best decision. The terrible relationship between our heart and mind is what leads to further chaos in our lives. We don’t use our mind to question our heart and we don’t use our heart to understand the mind, which just makes us live in a state of self absorption but not self awareness. And self absorption does not help us to evolve but keeps us playing the game of denial to know ourselves rather than indulge in self awareness and understanding and know that what we don’t like about ourselves can change.

And then we keep picking the wrong baggage in life and keep putting it down just like at airports shaking our head thinking, “When will I stop doing that?”.

DISCOMFORT VS PAIN.

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Today in the yoga class there were quite a few new comers and the teacher was explaining what they may feel during the class due to the heat – sweat, dizziness or nausea, and while going through all this always remember to breathe, as breath is the only thing that will get us through.:)

So at one point she started giving us variations of a posture and told us if we feel pain we must stop, but if we feel discomfort then we must go on because discomfort goes away with practice, but pain is damaging in yoga for sure.

And then I was thinking about the difference between “Discomfort” and “Pain”.

Do we ever know the difference between the two or mistake one for the other?

To my mind, like the teacher said, “Discomfort in a posture goes away with practice.”, perhaps Discomfort in life too is short-lived. Discomfort comes from various situations, like a new place, new people, anything unfamiliar but all it takes is getting to know, getting to observe and discomfort goes away. Because body has muscle memory and heart is a muscle, it all works out in the end. 🙂

But “Pain” is a different story altogether. Pain is damaging to the body in yoga and to the mind in life. While Discomfort comes from unfamiliar or new, Pain comes from shock or unexpected. And there is a difference between the unfamiliar and the unexpected. The unfamiliar in life conditions us to expect something different, we may like it or not, but the unexpected in life comes and shake up a belief, faith or a value system. While Discomfort eases us in, Pain makes us pull out and stay away. In Discomfort we continue to breathe, in Pain we forget to take a breath.

So I guess, it would be good for all of us to think for a moment and ask if what we are feeling is Discomfort or Pain. And always remember to breathe, no matter what.

Broken-heart Syndrome or Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.

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Thanks to Singapore’s worst programming and also to some extent my laziness to install Netflix, once in a while when I do switch on the television I end up seeing a lot of old series. Today was a very early season of Grey’s Anatomy in which I heard some complicated medical term, which the doctor finally ended by telling the patient that the patient had a broken heart, but he will be fine.

I got curious and looked up the medical term – Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, which sounds so Japanese, hence quiet, cool and intriguing. But this literally means a broken-heart syndrome.

This condition is because of emotional stress and in this there is a sudden temporary weakening of the muscular portion of the heart. This made me think of how easily and with immense thoughtlessness we make our heart vulnerable to suffer from broken-heart syndrome and then spend years making the heart feel better again. I remembered how a friend of mine once, was free-falling in love and I was probing him on the object of his affections, after describing the person in detail my friend looked at me, smiled his beautiful smile and said, “I know I am going to end up with a broken heart.” (or we can call it Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy), I just smiled and secretly prayed for it to work out for him.

But few years later down the road, like the doctor told the patient, that he had a broken heart but now he is going to be fine. So my friend is fine as well and likewise many of us.

Personally, I am more inclined to use the medical term Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy next time because:

  1. It sounds like a medical condition and not an emotional one.
  2. It sounds like there are experts to take care of it who have studied the know how to deal with it, which means that the person suffering from this medical condition does not have to do something all by oneself to get out of the broken heart syndrome.
  3. Like most serious medical conditions, it feels like it can be cured, unlike when in the broken heart phase no matter what the world tell you, you just feel that nothing will make you better again, and it never really makes you completely better, ever.

So, Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy it is for the broken hearted ones.

Love and Me today. 

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So this is what happened between Love and me today….

Like many other Sundays I had a list of things to do, some new, some old, but things to do. Old being my yoga class, which I felt I fared well in despite of a bruised and bleeding knee (it wasn’t that bloody, but not good) and a twisted ankle. And new being an exhibition and a documentary in a theatre I hadn’t been to so far. The theatre could safely be called “Hipsterish” but they do screen good cinema.

While walking out of my Yoga class and rushing for the exhibition I saw one really young and super sweet couple. They did not look more than 17 or 18, their smiles were beautiful, geeky, sheepish, yet elated ear to ear smiles, they walked with a swagger and their DSLRs hanging onto their shoulders. The girl looked like a fresh out of school, wearing a short pleated skirt, the large frames surrounded her face and eyes which long time from now hopefully will still be as shiny, holding a long stemmed very deep red rose.

The boy alongside her was looking like he had done the best thing in his life by giving her the rose but had no idea what to do next. So there they were, walking, she, smelling the rose and holding it for the world to see, and he, looking awkward and happy and staring at the road ahead, I think he couldn’t possibly look at her or she would have seen that his smile was bigger than hers.

In those few seconds when I saw them walking I remembered how wonderful it is to be fresh in love, it is all so simple, hopeful, and it feels like nothing can take this feeling away and that it will always remain like this and the only way it can change is by getting better. The two of them looked like, that all they wanted to do was go on for an endless walk. And I also realised that no matter how young or old we become, love always feels like that, an endless walk you want to be onto, staring at the road ahead because you don’t want to let in the other person in on how happy you are to be just there, and you always look like that girl in pleated skirt holding the rose and smiling till cheeks hurt and that boy, staring ahead and thinking, now that I have given her the rose, shall I hold her hand….

I couldn’t help but stop myself and tell that they looked awfully cute together.