My Irrespressible Bhabi.

Asha

The present Head Of Our Clan is my cousin Damodaran who will be familiar to my readers as the cousin who I visit regularly in New Bombay. His wife Asha is a particular favourite of mine, as she says I am to her too. (Bhabi in Hindi means wife of elder brother.)

She retired from the Atomic Energy Commission as a Medical officer a few years ago and since then has been in the forefront for a social work organisation in and around New Bombay.

There is a wonderful article about her in the DNA of the 12th October which gives a reasonably good picture of what she does.

It gives me great pleasure to post about her achievements and as you can see, I am obviously very proud of her.

Out With The Old And In With The New.

This has been my favourite perch for the last thirty years.
2013-10-11 11.09.54Unfortunately, the time has come for me to part company with it as I am unable to sit on it with aging prostheses protesting and demonstrating their angst against the hammock style of resting.

The son and heir and his lovely bride decided to take matters into their own hand and gifted me with a replacement for Dussera.
2013-10-11 15.32.55This is an electrically operated gizmo which reclines and rises at the press of a couple of buttons. Height of comfort and I had a good nap in it yesterday afternoon. I also sat on it and read for three hours.

My good man Yakob was delighted to receive the old faithful as a gift from me and that gave me some satisfaction that it is going to someone who will appreciate it.

My Greatest Fear.

I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where eight of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Delirious. The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

1043915_351823031620206_224974499_nThank you WWW.

“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.”

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti.

And that is exactly what I did with my only fear and therefore I suppose my greatest fear, which was taking the car for long drives without any one else accompanying me. As difficult as it may be to accept my claim that I have no other fears, it is a fact that I am prepared to defend if my readers want to question via the comments facility on this post.

Let me explain. Though for most of my working life I had the privilege of chauffeur driven cars and had to drive only short distances for shopping etc in the evenings or visits to friends on holidays; I come from the generation that learnt how to change tyres when there was a puncture, make minor repairs on the run to keep our cars running.

Since 2001 when I underwent revision to my replaced hip joints, I have been afraid of going on long drives alone for the simple reason that I would be stranded for hours if I had a flat tyre as I would not be able to exchange it with the spare. Despite very much improved conditions of our roads and better cars with better tires, I had this fear of having a flat and tried to either avoid taking my car or hiring a driver to take me wherever I wanted to go. Naturally, this limited my range as I had to return the same evening as drivers are not available for overnight duties.

Finally, I took matters into my hand and went on one long drive last September and have not looked back since. I now go on long drives on my own and so far have not had a problem bar one when I had a problem with the fuel supply which I was able to solve on my own and get the major clean up done at the destination town.

In fact, I went off on a long drive just the day before yesterday on an errand and was elated at my ability to do so alone. I intend doing many more such trips in the future too.

Story 16. The Adventurer.

Mehmud’s father Khaleel and my father were friends. Khaleel Uncle as I used to call him was from the aristocracy and was my first exposure to the lives of such people. Mehmud and I were of the same age and the two of us hit it off straight away from the first meeting.

Mehmud’s sister Fatima was much older and was totally given to spiritual pursuits and was mostly otherworldly in her interactions with us youngsters and other members of the family and their help.

They lived in a large estate with dogs, cats and many other animals and it was always a pleasure going over to their place for weekends to spend time with Mehmud who was looking after the estate having done badly in academic pursuits while the father was busy running a couple of businesses in the city.

Mehmud initiated me into shikar and fire arms and along with another friend Hassan, we used to go off on two/three day trips after game big and small. Both of us were avid bikers and would often go on shikar on bikes though the preferred vehicle was a jeep. We would also drag race in an abandoned airfield in the outskirts of the city. There are some very interesting stories about those adventures, but those are for another day.

Our friendship blossomed into a very strong bond with Mehmud spending nights at my little digs in the town whenever he came to town and when we would be late after double dates. The friendship was much encouraged by his parents who thought that I will be a good influence on him as I was already working for a living and studying in the evenings to get additional qualifications.

Fate intervened and I relocated to another city to a better paying job but Mehmud and I kept in touch through letters. Some time after we parted company, Mehmud’s father was able to get him a job as a trainee assistant in a tea estate in Assam. This was way back in 1963 when there were still some British planters staying on in India and it was in one of these plantations that Mehmud was absorbed thanks to his father’s connections.

Plantation life was made for some one like Mehmud who had already some experience with agricultural labour and practices and the laid back life style of planters with their club life and shikar was almost tailor made for him. He flourished there and in short order was confirmed as an Assistant Manager with his own bungalow and other perquisites. It was during this time that I met up with him in Assam where I had gone on a short holiday in 1964.

I moved to Ahmedabad to study for my MBA in 1965 and Mehmud came down for a week end to meet me while he was on holiday in Bombay with his family. He came primarily to talk to me about his life in Assam and the jam he had got into.

My friend and the hero of this story, had fallen in love with his Scottish boss’s wife, who in turn reciprocated his feelings. In the tea business such developments cannot be kept secret for long and Mehmud was in fact looking for a way to get out of Assam and move to the South of India where too there were many tea plantations so that his paramour could divorce her husband and join him. Although I did not know anyone in the tea business, I did know some people who lived in the Nilgiris and gave Mehmud some leads so that when he did move he could have some friends of his age group and who would help him settle down.

That was the last I heard from or of Mehmud till three years later when I was back in his home town on a visit and went to the family estate to find out what had happened during the five years that I had been away.

Fatima received me with great affection and grace but gave me the news that was simply devastating.

Mehmud could not relocate to the Nilgiris as he could not get a job there, he was sacked by his Assam employer and his paramour was sent off to Scotland. When Mehmud broached the subject of his returning home and getting the foreign lady to come down and marry him, his parents went apoplectic and would have nothing of that.

Mehmud put a revolver to his head and shot himself and was found dead one morning when he did not come down for morning tea. Seeing him like that his father suffered a stroke and died within a few months and his mother went into deep depression and what I now know as dementia. Farida took me to meet her but she could not recognise me nor talk to me about Mehmud or anything about our old days.

Farida was in the process of winding up all their affairs and moving to her maternal grandfather’s home in Gujarat where she hoped to further pursue her spiritual studies while her mother’s family could provide care for her. She did that and I found out subsequently that they had moved out. That was the last I had anything to with them.

There are many occasions when topics like shikar, camping, cross-country motorcycling, camping etc come up when I remember that dashing and cavalier friend with much nostalgia.

Table Manners.

eating_rice_with_fingersMy lessons on table manners started when I was eight years old. I was gently but very firmly taught by my Theosophist aunt how to eat with my fingers without getting the palms soiled with food. I am serious. Here is a picture of someone trying to eat rice and curry off a plantain leaf using fingers. Try doing the same even from off a plate and see what agility you need to manage not getting the food on your palms, yet transport the stuff to your mouth and still feed yourself enough to enjoy a post lunch siesta.

What with that kind of training, when I was taught by some other less gentle souls to eat with my mouth closed and graduating to using forks, knives and spoons, were all cake walks.

tandoori chicken
That is a plate of Tandoori chicken. Can you imagine eating that with a fork and knife and enjoying the experience? Will it not be better to do it this way?

obama-eatingOr for that summer enjoyment, how can one enjoy eating mangoes without making a mess of one’s hands and face?

mango eatingFor all my readers who by now must be wondering what prompted me to write about this subject, let me not keep you in suspense.  This is what did it.

And dear reader, synchronicity strikes again.  I wrote this and kept it in draft form to return to it for editing.  I then went on my routine visits to other blogs and this one from Looney hit me hard. “The pig is an animal that eats anything and swallows with minimum chewing.  Elsewhere in the Bible, we see that this is a type of person who has no judgment, accepts ideas indiscriminately and his thinking becomes unclean.  The cow, however, is picky about what it eats and takes his time to chew, which symbolizes the pondering of a decent person on good lessons.”

So, simply stated, it all boils down to the narrowing of choices between eating like a pig or a cow.

Ego.

I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where ten of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Conrad The Old Fossil. The nine other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Rohit, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Ego

I have a sneaking suspicion that TOF is planning on becoming a Swami. Otherwise why would he choose this topic?

The word ego is now used mostly in a negative way to denote something not quite nice to have. I try not to.

Ego is defined as follows by the Free online dictionary.

1. the self of an individual person; the conscious subject
2. (Psychoanalysis) the conscious mind, based on perception of the environment from birth onwards: responsible for modifying the antisocial instincts of the id and itself modified by the conscience (superego)
3. one’s image of oneself; morale to boost one’s ego
4. egotism; conceit.

These are all valid and are used in various contexts in the physical realm, and the word is more often misused in the spiritual tradition where the word ego is used instead of Ahankara which is the correct Sanskrit word for that part of the personality which is responsible for the sense of I, Me, Mine etc and also for the sense of doership.

In the Advaita system, Ahankara is actually the state of ignorance of one’s true self. Let me explain.

Logically, the body, mind and intellect are all objects that the subject “I” can objectify. Similarly the Ahankara is also objectified by the self, and the quest is to identify and abide in the self that is the I, and leave the mind-body-intellect-ego complex to perform its functions assigned for it during this life.

In that abidance, which is called consciousness,  ego is simply another object, ie a non reality and therefore not worth praising or condemning.

Carl Jung was among those early seekers to answers for questions of the psyche from the Eastern traditions, who identified as the I as being consciousness and also famously propagated the idea of collective consciousness, which is the concept of Atma and Paramatma which is the Witness to the Ego’s manipulations.

Oddly enough the more scientists delve into the physical matter, the more they are becoming aware that there is no matter and are beginning to look for answers in the spiritual and holistic sense.

For those who are interested to explore this further, a good source will be Fritjof Capra and Carl Jung.