A face in the crowd

The more you run, the more things follow. The rule holds well to animals and the demons in the mind.

The Saturday was fun. With news of Ophelia , the hurricane, looming around the social feeds, the morning was pleasantly sunny. The plan was set in stone. We were to hit the Istore near Covent Garden to pick up a fixed Mac. That’s a funny tale all by itself. I treat my Mac like crap. I don’t guard it, I don’t pamper it. I don’t let it flaunt it’s worth. For its part, my Mac has not died on me yet. It was a different tale for this friend of mine. Kept her safe, like a Disney princess. She died the moment he tried to connect the DSLR memory stick in it.

Delicate little darling, that mac turned out to be.

The plan was set in stone. We were to meet by 9. Hit Central London and collect the laptop. I had made alternate plans to visit South bank and stay lost in the food festival that the place hosts every weekend. None of that materialized though. Mostly because the plan was set in stone.

The day did start lazy. I hadn’t slept well and I usually don’t sleep well on most Fridays. I woke up groggy. I decided to indulge an English breakfast. Toast, eggs, beans, grilled vegetables and a tall glass of Pineapple juice. The food came as ordered, Pineapple juice, not so much. Apples were served, pines took a hike. The heavy hearty meal rendered me near useless. I had to endure an hour’s commute and I didn’t have a book handy to keep me company. I slept through the train and woke up miserable when the train stopped at the station.

With the laptop collected, with musical instruments gawked at a shop next to the store, we made it a point to walk a while. A lousy raspberry crush drink thrashed in the process. The time had ticked, the hours loitered, it was the time to head back home. The train ride back wasn’t any spectacular either. I did my best to keep myself entertained by playing a game on the mobile. I still couldn’t buy a book to keep me occupied. The book would have to wait for a while.

That’s when I noticed a face in the crowd. It wasn’t the usual spot. I presumed her to be in her sixties. She looked blissfully in her fifties, but her wrinkles conveyed a different story. People are a part of the daily commute. One gets to observe many faces. Some are pleasant, some are beautiful, some people carry a certain creepy vibe to them. I’m happy with the role of an observer that I play in the city. I observe. I steal a few glances, I make jokes in my head at times and smile things off. Some times, I imagine macabre plots and wonder about the many secrets that the eyes hide. It’s usual for an observer to observe without intruding into the comfortable safety zone that surrounds us all. It’s almost like stealing a glance at the sun. You see and then you don’t.

She was different. She had the kindest eyes that I had ever seen. There was something so familiar about her that I couldn’t stick to my golden role as an observer. A glance became many glances. I even mustered the courage to offer a smile. A smile offered, a smile reciprocated. The realities of this life came into play and a few stops later, we parted ways as strangers that we were.

I couldn’t help but think about the untold stories that were running in my mind. Such comforting familiarity, such gravitating vibes, those tired eyes surrounded by a touch of kindness. Her old age was on display. She’d , from time to time, wear her glasses to keep track of the stations that passed us by. She’d gently place them back into the case and repeat and rinse the exercise a few times. I watched the first times and decided to slip into a deep slumber where I could indulge in a tale that spanned across lives, across lifetimes, across appearances and logistics that mandated the reality that we are a part of.

I see similar faces all the time. The people change , their ethnicity changes, the colours of their eyes and skin change, their hairdo comes in various tones and shapes, the familiarity remains the same. It’s like holding on to pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and realizing that a few pieces are extremely compatible irrespective of which puzzle I’m trying to assemble back together.

The more I tried to ignore the coincidences , the harder it kept coincidenting! That’s not even a word but I couldn’t think of a suitable alternate. I think that’s the deal with life. The more we run away from things , we put ourselves in a spot where we are forced to confront them. There is no escape. The only viable way is to endure and survive. I couldn’t help but delude myself into imagining the same set of folks that I keep bumping into. I couldn’t help but try to see if there was a cryptic secret in front of my eyes that was challenging me to solve them. I couldn’t resist the temptation of believing that there is more to life than the mundaneness of normal ,sober, existence.

When faces in the crowd aren’t a reflection of fading away into obscurity, but are a manifested haunting of a mind trying to piece back a fractured point in time, the world becomes a canvas of a surreal tale , waiting to be written. Who knew, that descent into madness would be so much fun.

Have you ever experienced such doppelgangers? Do you ever see the same people around you, irrespective of where you are in the world or whom you are looking at? Is it the case of comedy of errors and mistaken identities because people are people and most of them are the same!

Small world after all and thank god, the world ain’t so small

Karthik

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Journey of a million miles

It was odd. These days, everything is odd. I couldn't start where the absurdity began. I couldn't put a finger on the frenzy that it all was. If I may, I'd skip the oddities and craziness of the world around and restrict myself to the nature throwing me a curve ball. The land covered in white of the snow, the biting cold, the defeated sun and it's near sterile rays, I couldn't quite fathom the heat that seemed to be emitting from somewhere beyond my eyes. It didn't make sense. On that cold day, it wasn't the cold that made me comfortable. The heat felt unbearably torturing.

The queue was long. It was going to be a long wait ahead. I gently smiled at the irony to the moment. Nothing felt rushed. A gentle subtle and a near final reminder that nothing was meant to be rushed in life. The thoughts amused me. All things aside, I found myself smiling like a silly man. The smile was a rare commodity. The grave grim air around us couldn't tolerate the conspicuous smile. Eyes cast on me. I knew the eyes. I knew. I had no comfort or justification to reciprocate those glances. I let them be. I had built a wall around my mind to phase them out of my peripheral attention. I denied the world around an acknowledgement.

It wasn't long before I had to sacrifice my decision to disown the world around me. I couldn't. He wouldn't let me be. A little boy of possibly eight. His eyes looked bored. He looked a bit tired but then again, so was everybody else. The wonders and magic of a confused winter morning. He had an air of curiosity about him, that little boy. While I could stereotype the gazes that I was attracting from everyone else, his, his was different. His eyes neither passed a judgement nor represented the cold sadness. He was just himself. He viewed the world through his curious little eyes. Everything fascinated him. Everything was new to him. Everything excited him. Everything.

'Hallo' I gently waved my hand to engage a conversation with him. He was standing with his dad a few places ahead. I must have caught him off his guard. Part embarrassed, part flustered, he quickly turned around and gripped his father's hand tight. I was amused by his innocent juvenile reaction. Kids will be kids and I quite enjoyed his little panic. The boy didn't give up. Not yet. He took his moment, gathered his courage and turned back. He meekly waved his hand and said nothing. The boy's action did stir his dad's inertia. He turned back and smiled. There was a certain relief on his face. He quickly turned his face again to look straight.

The little boy stood watching the place for a while. Outwitted by his boredom, he decided to embark on a tiny adventure. He walked towards me.

'Do I know you?' his gentle soft voice pierced through the cold silence.

'Ja', I promptly replied. You see, I started, we are but friends from a long long time ago. You and I have always been friends. You grew bored, just like how you are bored now, and that explains why you are little today. I have never been bored. I've always played my games, been a silly explorer. That's why I'm old now. Just as old as your dad.

The boy wasn't sure on how he had to comprehend what he had heard. His curiosity had gotten the better of him. He asked me a lot of questions. How? what? When? Are you lying? He'd ask me from time to time.

And so began the long tale of two friends who first met when the earth itself was young. This was the time after the apple incident. This was the time after the floods. The lands had been painted green, and that's where we had met first. He was a tiger, I was a lion. We had roamed carelessly in the jungle. We had played in the meadows, given hunters the slip, we had hunted together for the longest of while. One stormy night, we had walked our separate roads.

'I was a tiger?' he asked me in excitement.

'Ja', 'See that explains why you are always excited and brave. Just like the tiger you once were' I explained .

That had made sense to him.

As the story progressed, he and I had been friends in the wild. Eagle and a hawk. We had been trees too. We finally became men. Ah yes, that was a fun age. French one time, ancient heretic Indian once. We had met so many times and there were times when we weren't friends any more. The thought that we weren't friends seemed to sadden him a bit.

'Oh don't be sad' I tried to comfort him. See, we are friends now. That's how it is. We always spot each other.

That seemed to cheer the little rascal a bit. We went on to talk about his school, his friends. The queue had moved further quite significantly.

'Ok bye' he enthusiastically shrieked. I bid him a silent farewell. It was odd indeed. An odd day to make a new friend. An odd day to die. My journey from Berlin to Auschwitz was not as foreboding as I thought it would be. It was a day to remember. The kind of day that was hot for a given winter morning. The kind of day when two very old friends got to meet each other. I wanted the silly tale to be true. I wished there was some truth to it. It was after all the last day under the sun for both of us. The sadness in the eyes of the world managed to find mine too.

************

'Mummy' I kept pestering my mother. I was too little to know what depressing meant, but I was old enough to feel it crushing my enthusiasm. The hall was depressingly boring. I fidgeted restlessly. My mother wouldn't bother pacifying me. Glued to her fancy rectangle box of sorts, she kept staring into it irritably. It was not the day where I could manage to draw her attention gravitate towards me. Defeated, I gave up without a fight. I looked around to see the place. Old people, coughing people sick people were around. This was not the way I had intended to spend the day. I fancied a walk in the park instead. The kind of park where there were gulls to feed, pigeons to shoo. This was boring.

As I grazed my eyes across the room, I couldn't help but stare at this old man. He looked like a proper grandfather. The grey, the way his face was, full of folks. I think it's called rinkle or something. Rinkles scare mummy. I've heard her talk about it. He looked old.

'Hello little princess' he called out softly.

Mummy shot her eyes away from the box thing and directed it towards the grandfather. 'Agatha, don't bother the nice gentleman there' she blurted a noncommittal warning. She was happy to get rid of me , she was happy to have me bother someone else. I walked towards the old man.

'Do I know you?' I asked him curiously.

'Oh, but we are friends, from a long long time ago, little one' he replied in excitement.

Karthik

Tale inspired by this little girl, with an angel face who waved a familiar hi. We didn't speak, it was a very short hi. She smiled as her car picked up speed and left me standing and wondering if She and I were friends from a long long time ago. What can I say, Life inspires Life.

H for Himmel

"The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Führer was nothing. There would be no limping prisoners, no need for consolation or wordly tricks to make us feel better.
What good were the words?" – The book thief

Oh but when it comes to rules, I do find myself breaking most of them from time to time. However, there are those rules which I wouldn't dare challenge. One such rule is the one about not writing a book review without actually finishing a book. Bound by this innate compulsion, I put a brave fight to not write a review today. Well , almost. Rules are meant to be broken. I do love the loopholes. I found one today. Conformance meets rebellion. Win-Win.

Himmel. The word means heaven in German. There are times when I wonder about the heavens. There were many times when I had teased my mum about her theory of finding peace in the Himalayas. 'Why go all the way there to find peace? Why cant you find it here, in our house?'. Our arguments would reach a stalemate and we skip to other things to fight about.

The word of the day is Himmel. I want to talk about it. Himmel is also the name of a place where the story of the book unfolds. But enough about that book. I've treaded far enough already. The restless curiosity in me at the verge of eruption. If only I could fake an ailment, scuttle back home and find comforts of my bed and continue reading the book. If only!

How would you describe a Himmel? Is it the land of clouds, harps, angels, grass and greenery, scenery that would gather a billion likes on instagram if shot and uploaded without filters. 2 billion likes with the filters used. What does heaven sound like? Is it a land of serenity , far away from the reach of the common bloke. Is death the only eligibility criteria to enter the gates?

The answers could be as diverse as possible. The answers would only be limited by the imagination of folks responding to the question. Heaven is all set to be whatever we choose for it to be. There are ideas of rules and imposed ideologies that surround it. What can I say, rules… what good are they if we don't dare breaking them from time to time. The purist version of heaven is in place to keep most of us away. The classification of life, the nature of life lived, the acknowledgement of living by a given code, yadi-yadi-ya… in the modern age, it's called discrimination.

Similar to the thought along Himmel, what does it mean to have a happy life? Happiness is a lot to a lot of people. Unlike heaven, the description of happiness is not limited by the creativity or insanity of the mind of the responder. This is limited by wistfulness. Happiness , that happy life is everything that we currently lack. It probably would be a precursor to all the things that we'd have robbed away from our own selves. Sad and true and inevitable. By virtue of reasoning, that places happiness as one of the most lucrative sour grape. There, and just a whisker away from reach.

I asked myself a question today. In fact, I asked my self a question that was asked to me yesterday. Do we need an adversity to appreciate the valour in us? Do we need catastrophe to realize that there is a hero in us? Do I need to lead a miserable life to acknowledge what it means to be alive? The answer is an assertive NO. I realized the celebration of life through tears.

As the book went on, in a random instant, I felt overwhelmed emotionally by what I had just read. Instinctively and subconsciously, I shed a few tears. I stayed aware of where I was and realized I had a stranger staring at me. He looked at me, he looked at the book and I guess he wondered what the hell wag going around. I felt a little silly , weeping like a little ducky and a little flushed embarrassment later, I closed the book and decided to read it later. Two things happened then.. actually make it 3.

1. I wanted to cry freely , to my heart's content, in the safety and privacy of my house, till I could vent out the sadness from the book.
2. I realized that the book was more about a celebration of life. It was not a death that brought tears. It was a fond cherished memory of the characters lives that broke me down.
3. I felt super satisfied at accepting the humanity in me, to feel comfortable enough to cry a little. I felt alive.

Life without acknowledgement of life is barely a life at all. Yes, just like Himmel, we'd want to paint a million shades to our definition of happy. If this.. If only that.. Had I had that….. All I need is that…. and Cut the EXCUSES. We feel comfortable refusing to accept that we are capable of being happy the way we are. We refuse to acknowledge the little things that we achieve and accomplish each day. We refuse to let our smiles live in dignity, without fear of being compared to a imaginative figment of happiness whose only purpose is to keep us in a state of stasis, acting as a carrot at the end of a long stick. There are a lot many days where we can be happy with what, where, when, who and hows of being ourselves.

I guess celebration of life is not meant to follow once the curtain falls and the actors disappear into obscurity. Everything is just a state of the mind. Except Poverty.. take that Mr R G!

Karthik

Misguided , lost but not lost

“So are you still meditating?” my dad casually asked out of the blue.

I found the question both repulsive and felt a little invasion of my own private space. ‘Nope. I don’t have the time’ I replied. It was the truth. As abruptly as my journey began, It seemingly had also ended. It was not a quest for the realisation of the self that had pushed me along that road. It.. It was what it was. It wasn’t anymore and I had rightly so predicted a few times that I would be a shameless quitter. I had given up. In mind, in thoughts. Traces of curiosity did linger on. I couldn’t explain why it stayed behind. I know I didn’t pretend this adoption. I knew I didn’t force my exit. I knew my fate rested in things beyond my control. Cat on the wall I guess.

I must have been a soothsayer in one of my births. It’s just a feeling. During the best of my spiritual days, I had seen a light made from the energies of my chakra. I assumed it was me, my essence, the real me that transcended the body. It had spoken without words. Through thoughts, it had conveyed that things would be left unreconciled. It had hinted that this body might not see the liberation of the soul. I don’t know what the sentence means. I know there is some truth to it , somewhere. Not hidden. Just beyond my comprehension.

I hit the gym this evening. I came back home. Thoughts beyond my control, I felt that rush of harboring thoughts that I din’t want to hold on to. I took to the sound of a negative energy cleanse. On a whim, I closed my eyes to reach out to an old friend whom I had given up on. The universe.

Gone are the days when I’d meditate and find comforts in the warmth of a golden yellow light. The source that I could never see. A source  that , before now, I had never actually thought existed. I would be surrounded in that light and I felt special and comfortable. Gone are the days. I feel like an unwanted bastard child of the universe now. I had walked away from it’s love and grace. Shamelessly I still knock it’s door. If only the universe would speak to me, I wonder if it would be too honest to point out the treachery that I had instigated against it. I doubt that.

I tried to call for the universe to spare me it’s light and peace. It obliged. I decided to ground myself this evening. It’s been so long. I figured I could use a cleanse. Unlike the days of my prime, I decided to stretch my bond to the very end of the earth. All the way to the other side. I’d usually stop by the core. I felt I was way too tainted to stop at the core. The bond went all the way to the other side. The bond as wide as the earth itself. It was time to neutralise the doubts and misery that rested as blackness in me.

It wasn’t swift. It wasn’t easy. Root, cleared. Sacral cleared. I still saw black but I felt the clogs unclogging within me. I reached to my solar plexus. I saw a shimmer of light. I went higher to my heart. I felt the tears in my eyes. Hurt within, fractured by my own misery, I knew the heart charka had put up a brave front for the longest of time. It felt at peace finally. The tears had cleaned and mended the cracks in the heart. I feel blessed that there wasn’t any anger that I felt. I acknowledged the pain. I let it heal. It tried to heal. I don’t know if I’m healed yet. It would probably be way too easy and I’d be way to lucky if I call myself healed. I’m a work in progress. I guess that’s the same with the heart.

I felt the light once again. Throat, cleaned as I moved the energies back to the earth. Third eye. It had never failed me ever. I could see a future. It had always brought me misery. I could see it all thought. I refused to blame my third eye for it today. It was a gift, it was a luxury that I had squandered away. I felt thankful for all it had done. I didn’t want to call it my curse today.

Before I could reach my crown, the dark blackness started lifting off. I saw what I had never seen before. The soft pulsating fire. I could always spot the soul. I’m told it’s the blue core surrounded by black and blue hue. I failed spotting my soul today. All I could see was the pulsating fire. It grew and kept growing. What started as a soft gentle yellow red heartbeat of a fire, now grew stronger. Yellow vanished and I saw red. Soft gentle red. My mind thought of it as love. Loveless, I couldn’t explain it. I decided to neither understand it nor seek an explanation. It was what it was. I’d very much like to leave it there.

I reached the crown. Cleaned and flushed of blackness within me. I severed the bond with the earth. Thanked it for graciously helping me neutralize myself. I tried to raise a wall of white light of protection. It’s something that I’ve done a lot of times in the past. Only today, there was no white. I felt engulfed in the flame. I felt safe and protected and yet couldn’t quite fathom what it all meant.

With that I saw black. I knew it wasn’t the darkness in me anymore. This black was not intimidating. This black was not made of fears and doubts. It was a void of nothingness. It felt like outer space.

And that’s that. 22 minutes later, I felt at peace. I recognized that my body had not jerked back. It had not refused or thrown challenges at me during the minutes that had passed. Thoughts had not strayed, fears had not manifested. For what it is, Thank you universe.

I made a promise to help wherever I could. I intend to honour that word.

Karthik

Wayward wanderer

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I guess I’ll always be that guy. I refuse to pick a side and I will debate for the losing side , always for kicks. There is a conflict waged deep within me. It’s a one for control. While it would have been a lot more fun had the fight been similar to the one that Bruce Banner wages, but unfortunately, my struggle is the one that’s far more sober in comparison. It’s a fight to determine reality.

I am what I am today. It’s been a long road that got me here. For what it’s worth, I’m a storyteller at heart. I see life as how I’d read a novel. I get to pause moments, add drama to establish the seriousness to a moment, I get to emphasize milestones by retelling them as I see fit. I’m an author without boundaries. While words confined to the pages of a book make a lot of sensible sense, when you view the world around as words forming a plot, things get blurry and surreal.

The conflict rests behind simpler principles of defining the coincidences to daily living. Most part of my life, I’ve taken sides with rudimentary conclusions of reality. There are coincidences, nothing is connected, there i no ripple effect to life. In short, the butterfly effect was a good movie despite the lousy reviews. In all honesty, that choice, that life brought me no peace. It kept me frustrated and miserable.

Things changed in time. I had an alternate outlook towards life. What if life was a series of connected events. What if life and entire lifetimes( and I mean multiple lifetimes) could be explained by the simplest way of cause and effect. In short, no life is predestined. It’s just that the causes, the triggers and lynch pins that set events into motion and their consequences and effects were to span across multiple lives? While the idea still is viable under the purview of science, the point of multiple lives is still a question mark.  Which brings us back to the point that I was trying to make. I am a skeptic who believes. I am a believer who is skeptic. I challenge the status quo at all times. I’d rather wing it than accept blind, the words written by the greats.

Most people confuse that with arrogance. I think the anarchist and nonconformist in me help me fortify my faith. Everything that I choose to challenge, if they still continue to hold well, my faith in them becomes unshakable. I’m not swayed by  the swings of fortune. I don’t renounce my faith when I lose. I don’t thank my stars when I win. I win. I lose. It’s all me. Does sound vain. But is it vanity? I refuse to hold anything hostage to my failures except my choices. I think that puts god at peace. I don’t fancy blaming her anymore.

chakras

From a bloke who loved the movie The Matrix, to a bloke who felt massively fascinated by chakras, I’ve sure walked a few roads that were beyond my comprehension. The name is katz and I’m an anthropomorphic cat in many aspects of my life as well. I’m living that lie.  Curiosity got the better of me. I experimented and I experimented unrestrained. Untrained, untrainable, lost and with a zeal for discovery, I let myself loose upon the esoteric universe.

Coincidences have played a vital role. When one starts acknowledging the coincidences to life, that can of worms can not be sealed again. I quickly learnt the way my body swayed to the flux in energies. Heart beats faster during meditations, the more you find yourself travel in your mind, the longer the toll is left to be paid by your body. The chords that one forms on a daily basis in life, goes on to be both the strength and weakness that defines us. The advantage of staying a ronin  ( a student without a master) is that you get to experience it all. I made the rookie mistake of claiming that I ‘Understood’ things. I didn’t. In time, I learnt to slow myself a lot. In time, I tried to remove the mysticism away from the science of souls. In time I realized that everything I thought I knew, were not real and none of that mattered. Left with a satisfied curiosity, that’s all that I really cared about.

Chakra stones. Yes. Conincidences again. I picked them up in a store that I barged in to pick up a fancy quirky gift for my friend. I had picked a pouch of Chakra balancing stones. I didn’t intend to pursue anything spiritual that day. In fact, I didn’t know what to do with them when I picked them. I still don’t.

Things have been different ever since. Better or for worse, I don’t think I’m smart enough to judge that.

The first queston : Was it a case of placebo effect?

With certainty, I’d say no. It’s been a few months since I picked them. I resisted the temptation to write about them for this long. I choose to be a silent observer and record things in my mind instead of rushing to conclusions.

The noticeable difference :

I was a calmer bloke. The need to react slowed down. I felt like I didn’t care enough to take offence to most things. I didn’t feel that burning need to assert myself in any and ever given situation. I felt at peace with myself. Coincidences again. A lot of things worked in my favor. Fun thing about life, they were not the things that I was desperately wishing to be true. Life is not a Telemarketing ad. You don’t buy a deodorant and suddenly become god’s gift to women!

Still things were a good change.

The conundrum :

While placebo effect rests in the strength of one’s faith in pulling through, there is also a positive confirmation and reaffirmation that keeps one winning. So do I feel the change because my chakras feel balanced? or do i feel that change because I want to believe that there is a change and rest of it all is coincidence? The conflict between the skeptic and the believer rages on.

All said, I think, and I personally feel that call it what you may, there is some method to the collective madness that is Chakras. In the purest sense, Chakras are energy centers, and energy can be channelised. If you don’t bank on the universe’s special effects division, then you’d  be amused and surprised at the subtle differences in your behavior when the energies of your chakra behave or misbehave.

Across time, I’ve tinkered a lot with the flow of energy. I’m like a child with a magnifying glass , chasing ant hills and playing godzilla. I don’t know what is the price of all the curiosities, but hey, staying in fear and what’s the bloody point?

I don’t do anything special with my chakras balancing gemstones. I keep them in my pocket. When I feel a wave of negativity build up , I cleanse them in salt water and sunlight. Oh , you know when negativity builds up. Every single demon from your past, present and plausible future starts manifesting in your thoughts. Things that were buried away resurfaces, anger waits to explode, you itch to unleash the evil that you are capable of. Yeah, I’m going to say that you know when negativity builds up. Those are the days when I clean the stones and done deal.

A friend gifted me a book that was titled, does one really need a guru to progress the spiritual path. I’ve not read it yet. The time is not right for me to know it or understand it. As I float though the currents of the universe, without worries or care, I do enjoy the experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to pick. May the skeptic in me never rest. May the believer in me never cease to put up that fight. What are we , if not defined by our conflicts.

Karthik

Book Review : Aleph

Is it possible to deviate from the path of God has made? Yes, but it’s always a mistake. Is it possible to avoid pain? Yes, but you’ll never learn anything. Is it possible to know something without ever having experienced it? Yes, but it will never truly be part of you." – Aleph

The last time I read Paulo Coelho, I hated his work. I scoffed at it. I strongly believed that the book was ridiculous at best. A ranting of a master of words who weaved a story too hard to believe, is what I felt. In the decade that followed later, I realized the magic to the words that I had once read.

The setting of an ignorant novice me reading the Alchemist is pretty much a plot that can help me explain his words in the book Aleph. In the most simplest of terms, the book Aleph is about a journey of life. I'll let you decide the number of lives that your faith and your belief system will permit you to consider. If there is just one life, this book talks about a journey that we all undergo at different points in our own existence.

Much like how I first rejected the Alchemist, the words had not changed in the years that followed after my read. It was only I who had changed. There was no constant at play. Time flew past me, I gained life by experiences, my beliefs changed gradually. From a skeptic, I went on to become a wanderer with a curious and an open mind. Aleph is a book that talks about similar journey of the self.

It is hard to review a book on spirituality or philosophy. I remember the day I picked this book in London. The bloke at the store said aren't you too young to lose yourself to spirituality. I smiled , aren't we all young enough as it is, i asked. We both shared a laugh.

The book touches upon the simplest of facts that we tend to complicate beyond all recognition. It talks a great deal about experience.

"Is it possible to know something without ever having experienced it? Yes, but it will never truly be part of you."

My biggest take from this book is along that line of experience. All of us experience various things of varying degrees in the miles that we cover in life. What we experience is just as irrelevant as what we desire to experience. What we do with such an experience, goes on to define the quality of our life, it mandates the state of bliss that one can stand to enjoy.

The simple act of falling down, getting up, crying a little, wiping away our tears and heading out for the next big adventure was something we were extremely proficient at doing when we were kids. In fact, the pain we experienced as a kid was very much real. With a limited knowledge and awareness of the world, with limited fears and limited unknown, even the tiny setback of falling down was supposed to be a huge hurdle. We did overcome that. We did that in style. We did that we cause we wanted to.

The more we grew up, the lesser we remain ourselves. That fight in us gets replaced by a lot of other things. Aleph is a book that serves to remind us that nothing else matters more than what we stand to do today. Our actions of today have the power to redeem us from the sins of yesterday and sow the seeds for the things to come tomorrow.

Oh btw, it was long after I picked the book did I realize that this book was not an fictional account of a spiritual journey! Damn!

Read it at your own peril. Belief is a rare commodity these days. We choose to believe in the goodness of vile folks dressed as sheep and yet struggle to believe that we are but a part of a vast machinery called the universe. If your eyes wont let you digest the spiritual nature of the book, no biggie, read it as a fictional tale of science and teleportation device. The heart of Aleph is not it's vast spiritual abundance, it's a simple tale of learning to live your own life.

Karthik

Machine and learning 

Was an obscure point in time. I reached out to my smart phone which claimed to be a lot smarter than I have ever been. Ten digits dialled and a voice that reminded me that I had not paid my bills later, what I heard next left me in a shaken state of a mind. Fear gripped my heart and I couldn’t help but imagine a series of things that might have gone wrong. The automated reply said “The subscriber’s mobile is switched off”.



Was an obscure point in time again. This time around the ten digits of magic dialled resulted in an assurance that there was a delay in the making. The answering machine had kicked in. Or as we call them today, Voice mail. “Hello, you’ve reached……… please leave a message after the beep”. And beep. I shook my head in frustration and that was there. There was nothing that I could do to reach out that that obscure point in time. 


Obscure point. Only this time, the phone rang and the call was promptly cut. I refused to let my pride and ego kick in. I dialled the digits again. The same experiment, the same results. A few emotions ran high in my mind and I tossed aside my phone like it was the harbinger of doom. Anger’s first ever reaction has always been a burst of violence. The cushioned comfort of my car’s seat kept the mobile alive that day. I reached home. I wasn’t quite myself that evening. 


A million obscure points in time. magic digits dialled and a smile on my face after I heard the living human answer the phone. And smiles indeed.



Something happened today that made me recollect these few moments where I’ve stayed amused at the play of the act of calling and the calls being answered. What triggered this , is nothing short of a rude awakening of sorts. 


“Dude, can you please pray for me.” the message had read. My friend of twenty years, my brother at arms when we screamed our lungs on a stage riffing loud guitars, my friend who was as crazy as I was at music concerts, today wanted a humble prayer. “Call me when you can man”, he had messaged. We both are rockers, macho guys at heart. We don’t believe in male bonding by talking to each other and sending silly messages and forwards everyday. We both have lived assured that we are friends and will always continue to be. We have never ever felt that need to catch up from time to time. Moments come , and we crash gates at our houses. We chill out. That’s us.


Prayers. “I no longer question if prayers go heard and answered anymore. It offers a comfort that only a heart in pain can understand. The cynics will never know the simplicity of such a warm comfort” Karthik


I will da. I comforted him. I meant that. Sincere too. The call left me wondering. If I were to compare the nature of prayer , which is a means to dialling magic digits to reach god, then one of the following happens

1. The subscriber’s mobile is switched off – as in God aint around to answer. Exists, but has made a choice to disconnect.
2. The subscriber is busy – As in there, but busy! duh! your call is important to us, you are placed in a queue. We will get back to you. Voice mail
3. The call that gets cut – Guess god don’t like ya anymore! 
4. A smile after we witness a miracle. 


Unfortunately, when we call fellow humans, the act of getting a busy tone, a voice mail or even the call getting cut off, it’s a sign. It’s an acknowledgement that there is someone out there who is very much alive. 

The concept of God does not work that way. There is no voice mail in place. Our prayers are usually unidirectional. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the voice that says I’m on queue or a busy message. It’s a moment of a leap of faith. 


I’m no doctor. I’m not even the nicest person on the face of this planet. I sure am not on God’s nice list. In fact, my prayers don’t really stand much to deliver. Yet, it served as a medium of comfort when my friend needed it the most. 

Why question logistics, proofs, semantics , and derive logic over something that is built on emotions. Hope, faith, belief, comfort, assurance. There is no logic in the world that stands to rationalize the comforts we derive from something that is so volatile and that which changes rapidly. Emotions!


I learnt a wonderful lesson from a machine today. The answering machine. If god chooses to have one. It’s not about prayers going answered or miracles unravelling in front of our eyes. It’s about a moment of peace which may stand to give us courage to deal with what is to come next. I’d like to believe in that. I choose to believe in that. I could be wrong , but hey, it works and I’m not going to go about tinkering with things that are working! 


Karthik