Solitude.

My day starts every day at around 4.30 am. I spend about an hour and a half in meditation and yoga exercises. This is followed by a hot mug of tea which I have sitting in our verandah facing our garden communing with nature for about half an hour.

These two and a half hours sets the tone for the rest of the day. The peace and quiet that this time brings about in my being is like nothing that any other form of activity can.

This quiet time in solitude leads to another hour and a half of newspaper reading, breakfast and prayer time. Till about 9 am, I would not have met or talked to anyone other than our dogs and the visiting cat.

Then the day slowly starts to bring other people into my day like my son, daughter in love, gardener, maids and phone calls.

These too are just peripheral to my existence and I enjoy being on my own and follow my routine for the rest of the day, of solving crossword puzzles, reading, responding to and / or contributing to WhatsApp, Facebook and email messages besides the few phone calls.

None of these activities takes away my sense of being comfortable with myself and this feeling is now the predominant feature of my existence.

I call it a life of solitude. Not to be mistaken for loneliness. I am not lonely. There are plenty of people in my life but, if they are not there, I am not disturbed and am perfectly happy being left alone.

Coming to the illustration on top, I do not wish to be left alone by people or not to deal with people.  It is simply that, I am comfortable without them or with them and enjoy both situations.

What about you?

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday 8 On 1 blog post topic. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman , Srinivas and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by me. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Man Proposes Fate Disposes.


When I retired from a life that had revolved around a lot of travelling, one of the ideas that my late wife Urmeela and I seriously contemplated was to invest in a mobile home and to travel all over India. She wanted to visit many places that she had not visited but about which I had talked and also meet some of the people that she had not met.  I too wanted to visit ancient temples and archaeological sites besides towns that I had not visited ever but, which were historically important.

Motor homes were not available in India and I wanted to buy a Tempo Traveller now known as Force Traveller and convert it into a mobile home so that the two of us could travel. I had even identified the garage which was capable of converting the van into a mobile home and had drawn elaborate plans on what we should carry in the van etc. There were many evenings that we spent dreaming about all these plans when Urmeela was struck down with illness which put paid to our plans.

The other idea was to live in a farm house close to a town named Ranjangaon which is about fifty kms from Pune where we live. Ranjangaon was chosen as our son is named Ranjan. In Marathi and Hindi “gaon” attached to a name meant that the village was named for either a person or a deity in that village.

I had put down the first payment to show interest in a deal for a very compact and nice farm with a small cottage in it when the same illness put paid to those plans as well. Fortunately, I was able to recover my entire down payment plus a bonus, as the seller found a buyer who was willing to pay more.

The eight years of caregiving for Urmeela also enabled us to learn to live as minimalists and we got rid of many things that we had accumulated over the years but which served no purpose in a rapidly changing world like vinyl records, cassette tapes, player/recorders, VCR and video tapes as well as CDs and CD players and so on besides many clothes and accessories. When she finally died, there was hardly any clothes left in her wardrobe to dispose off.

Recently, I too finally got rid of all my suits, jackets, ties, cufflinks, tie pins, belts, suspender belts, etc and streamlined my wardrobe so that now I find that I can get rid of one of the cupboards in the bedroom!

All these thoughts came to me after reading an article that my friend Megh sent to me about a couple who live the life that I could have lived had fate decided otherwise.

Have you had such disappointments that destroyed dreams?

Modern Democracy–Success Or Failure.

I think that the question is unanswerable in its present form. In my not so humble opinion, it is neither. It is a joke.  I am one of those who enjoy the process and see humour in it instead of getting worked up about the outcomes.

The winning side always faces criticism from the losing side which blames everything else under the sun other than its own shortcomings for its loss.  The losing side is lampooned by all kinds of pundits for being incapable of taking on the winning side.

This is more than amply illustrated by the joke that has been doing the social media rounds the last few weeks. “The USA has now realised that it is easier to get rid of foreign presidents than their own.”

There are other countries which, after election results are announced claim that the candidate has been selected and not elected.

And others where the whole world knows that the elections are rigged but, they are held nevertheless and the winner hailed.

The oldest democracy and the largest democracy in the world recently had two elections almost at the same time. The former to elect its President and the latter to bring in a new legislature and government to a large state.

Both had one significant thing in common. The losers refused to accept their losses and the following two cartoons say more than I could ever say.

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In the lower cartoon, Tejaswi Yadav the loser in India’s Bihar is blaming Rahul Gandhi whose party and the former’s party jointly fought the elections together against the winning combination. The text says – “What sanitiser have you used that victory slipped away from our hands?”

I do not wish to say anything more about the American democracy but, will about the Indian one.  To start with let me reproduce a quote from Winston Churchill.  “If independence is granted to India Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low calibre & men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.”

This was during a debate in the British parliament in 1947.  Since then a lot of water has flowed down the Thames and India has survived for over 77 years as a  democracy  except for a short aberration between 1975 and 1977. It has had its share of heroes and villains like all the other democracies of the world.

I quote a bit from a incisive article by an eminent writer of India – “In popular Western narrative, India wasn’t expected to make it in one piece, much less emerge as the world’s fifth largest economy.”

In the meanwhile, it is interesting to note that Britain, the so called mother of democracies is supposed to be facing a crisis of democracy!

Do you now see why I think that democracy is a joke?

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday 8 On 1 blog post topic. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman , Srinivas and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Raju. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Learning From Erudite Cousins.

Both the cousins who feature in this post read my posts regularly and comment and so, it is dedicated to them.

I recently mentioned in my post “Learning” that “old dogs can’t learn new tricks.” To this, my cousin Shankar commented:

“Ramana, the Old adage is :

You Can’t “Teach” An Old Dog New Tricks –
Merriam-Websterwww.merriam-webster.com › dictionary › you can’t tea…

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks definition is –
—used to say that a person who is old or is used to doing things in a certain way cannot learn or does not …”

I corrected my post and thanked him.

Yesterday, I was on a phone call with another cousin Papa and in some context mentioned in Tamil that in my old age I am reverting to old traditions. To which he promptly responded with the very apt adage in Tamil that translates to English as “Doing Surya Namaskar after going blind.”

I am in regular touch with many of my cousins thanks to modern telephony and social media and enjoy talking to them. The talks and social media exchanges often revolve around nostalgia and since we are all, over the proverbial three score and ten, nostalgia plays a very important part in our staying sane. The word sane however is to be used with caution as some of us including my siblings are border line cases.

Timshel Tattoos.

Meeta who is now becoming a regular feature in my blog posts sent me a link to a blog post on the word Timshel to share with me her awe at its meaning and intent.

I gather that the word Timshel in Hebrew means “Thou Mayest”. In modern language I suppose that it means, You may.  This indicates to me that  you have a free will.  As a Vedantin  my understanding is that “Karma is what will come to you in life and free will is what you choose to do with it.”  If this tattoo sported by many indicates the same, I have no quarrel with that and I hope that some of my readers will enlighten me further on this subject.

Here or two tattoos from the google images showing “Timshel”.


Talking about tattoos, my son and daughter in love are both fans and here are some tattoos that they sport.  The last two are sported by the DIL.

Both have tried to get me to sport a tattoo or two, and so far, I have resisted the idea. Should I go for it?

Learning.


This post has been inspired by one with the same title by Cheerful Monk.

Cheerful Monk goes further with a follow up post on the history of the naming of the two lions in her next post The Library Lions.

I had seen these statues of the lions in New York as a tourist on a guided tour and these details were not told to us by the guide. On the other hand, when I visited Paris as a tourist at the museum the Rodin’s statue The Thinker which appears on my mast here was explained in detail by the guide and made a deep impression on me.

The point is that I learnt a bit about Rodin thanks to the guide and about the New York Lions from Cheerful Monk. In the case of the former, my curiosity made me follow up with more investigations later on. Another work of art that intrigued me and about which I investigated and learnt was this in Milan;
One is never too old to learn new things although I find it convenient to use the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” when it is needed.

The masks on the lions made me smile. Do they you?