Nostalgia and Dementia

About 35 years ago ….. This morning I barged into a cell of memoirs of that day.

A college mate of mine Venuraj told me on phone that his ankles are paining. I then looked at my ankle. Found that my toe nails need a trimming and went to collect the nail cutter. That was it.

That nail cutter was gifted thirty five years ago in Jeddah by a friend’s friend who shared our apartment for a few nights before he boarded flight to Jordan. He worked for Panasonic National. He said “You keep it”. None ever gifted me a nail cutter, may be with crystals. This nail cutter is unique and precious in many ways.

Nostalgia; a friend of mine told me is like dementia. I found it to be an interesting comparison. Dementia is unsoundness of mind resulting from organic or functional disorders leading to loss of coherent thoughts. Nostalgia is about poignant fixation or longing for something that happened long ago.

It appears both are demerits. I wonder though! When it sounds and steps on memories, nostalgia turns purple. It connotes love and that kind of?

I lived longer than someone and came to this world before India was independent. Nostalgia plays music in my old heart to tickle and fondle my memoirs.

Today the Gen Next will not bother to know because they have a valid reason. It does not tickle them anymore. What tickles them probably are smart things like cells, robots, AI (artificial intelligence), drones, remotes that run automobiles and speed. The flow of nostalgia is in any way trickle by trickle. Very slow like pain in the ankle of Venuraj.

No wonder when a close school friend of mine called up to ask “why not we four meet?” made me vibrant and speedy in action to meet sooner. And we did speak that night in calm and laughter only about nostalgic stories that bind us still. Football we used to play, jokes that made us laugh; cutting chai that we used to share; the kalumakai (mussels) fried in original pepper from that corner shop that does not exist, and about the shop near Malabar Christian College, Kozhikode that has gone into oblivion as a road widening took place and traffic signals have been planted. We spoke of times when there were no city buses only bullock carts and a few horse ridden vehicles, and by no way no traffic signals.
Change is forever and un-stoppable. We understand and appreciate that factor, as none can stop dementia or nostalgia. It flows and carry on with it good and bad things.

Unfortunately in dementia we forget and in nostalgia memoirs filter only goodness and leave the spoilt occurrences to waste. That is why the most often repeated concept of forgiveness comes into picture. The four of us had fought and split but we are congruent in one as much as we trace history and look at what is happening. And hold our fort of thoughts into future with a back drop of how illuminant was the days we passed by. As we grew we never thought we were making memories. We just enjoyed the fun of living.

Some moments we passed through have become treasures. They fit into our bags of assets. More valuable than some of the gifts (unlike the nail cutter) and materials we made in due course. School holidays when we used to go to uncle’s houses to recreate times shared with cousins and their neighbor hood, lakes and valleys, mountains and rivers, playing kites and running and falling.

It appears the second trip down the memory lane is a treat like the grandma’s coconut chutney. Even the eight year old grandson of mine Darsh listens as he is unfolded with an old photograph of his and asks in excitement questions that his nerves wonder. In us are those fond memories, aside us are our friends and intimate relationships and in front of us are challenges that makes future.

I miss being the child.

That brings an opportunity in all of us. Not to forget to awaken the child in us. Being lonely is a possibility and is the worst poverty of this time, as you age. Remember fear was not a part as we grew up, fear is taught en-route. A child does not fear – he just tries.
Like we four old friends met without a reason but celebrated the occasion.

“Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you are in trouble, because that reason can be taken away from you” – Deepak Chopra.

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Rocks, Stones and Pebbles

You and I love to walk on the sea shore or on the river side once in a way. Who does not? At times, may be when a small sand particle gets into our foot ware, we think of that tiny pebble. Otherwise why we spent time thinking of non-interesting sand that is essentially pulverized, weathered rock that toss up by the waves. Sand is basically a material made of breakdown of rocks over thousands and millions of years.

My wife and daughters have been collecting small pebbles of rocks wherever we went in India or abroad and at times request friends who go places, to bring a small pebble or rock. The idea being “DHARTHI EK HAI” – world is one. As we collect we appreciate the world we live in. We understand the limit of our world as we look at cosmos. As we look at we individuals as a tiny molecule in the huge canvas of cosmos, that makes it sensible. We have a life span of restricted time period. Compare that short period to the tiny sand particles that took millions of years to form?

The highest peak in the world is Mount Everest at 29035 feet above sea level. But that is not the tallest. The tallest mountain is Mauna Kea in the islands of Hawaii. Mauna Kea stands 13796 feet above sea level and extends 19796 feet below Pacific Ocean.

At times we say we touched rock bottom of our lives, it seems a comparison. We say hidden are most of our feelings; like that of Mauna Kea. At times we burry our feelings that burden us like Mauna Kea submerged in the sea. At such times we need to reflect of what Sir Edmund Hillary said “It is not the mountain we conquer; but ourselves”.

In our lives we often climb big rocks, small stones that we trip and fall and sands where we make footprints during our journey of life. We need to remember then of millions of years that rocks take to become sand as water cuts rocks on a dimension of time. Do we overestimate the turmoil we consider as huge in comparison?

It says “River water cuts rocks not because of its strength but by its persistence”. We had a chance to kayaking on the river Sutlej that emanates beyond Indian borders and pass through Shimla. Remembered sitting on the banks on a sea of pebble stones. Close to that place was a hot spring on the banks of Sutlej River that was extremely cold. That spring was hot and was unbearable for hand touch. It is such phenomena that we witness to understand that co-existing as in nature is a lesson to learn for social existence. These lessons help us to build our attitude and thus our character.

It was in Cairo where I and my wife went on a camel back to see pyramids. We chose to walk the distance on a camel back to adapt to that place. Sure it was an amazing experience. Most of us know the way pyramids are built and a lot is unknown. The size of mammoth stones that shaped the angles is a sight that we can imagine. Irregular and equally charming are the rocks and mountains in Rampura en-route to Bangalore. That was a locale movie SHOLAY was shot, Shaped into an array of elegance Sippy chose that place for Shoal to be shot. Jorge Luis Borges was apt in saying – “Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand. But we must build as if sand were stone”. The story of Hampy is another study of rocks. It took time for those monumental structures to be created, but they last a long time.

In my professional life there were umpteen enquiries with nature between official engagements. One such was a visit to Bora caves away from Visakhapatnam. The Gosthani River, originates close to these caves and flows between the solidified stalactites and stalagmites in the karstic lime stones formation. Water percolating from the roof of the caves dissolves limestone and trickle drop by drop to form stalactites of the cave and drip down to the ground. These deposits have developed into interesting forms and structures inside the caves. These shapes have captured the imagination of tourists. Excavations carried out in the caves by archeologist unearthed stone tools of middle Paleolithic culture dating back 30,000 to 50,000 years, which confirmed human habitation. A similar kind of rock formation as a cave is there near Krabi islands in Thailand. During that visit my wife looked above as she had a droplet of water on her head. While she looked above I was looking down as I spotted a plant growing in that underground environment. That is nature. With the need of water for organic growth drop by drop a plant can grow in that ambience. Marvelous indeed I captured a photo of her standing near that plant. Anything is a possibility to grow and flourish, provided we seek the luck in an opportunity at right time. This study is beyond geology and research into historical evidences that create rocks into caves.

Here we differ and think is it right to quote “A rolling stone gathers nothing?”. The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way we use them. Both are rock formations are in our thoughts. We need to differentiate. After all our thoughts are mental blocks; attitudinal issues. That’s why we need to think out of the box. Parallel thinking patterns. Resolving conflicts, in relationships and moving ahead stepping on stumbling blocks of rocks that appear as mountainous terrains. A drop of water with persistence can give life to the plant and a drop of water can cut rocks with less power than the hugeness of the problems we foresee.

Rocks at times are illusionary clouded in colours of blue, like Alps. Such formations provide us with patterns to dream. We climb and achieve success; we compete with self rather than the surroundings and environment. It is not the peak of Everest that we reach but knowing the strength and capabilities of our minds.

Like the rock, the strongest muscle is our heart and the worst enemy is our mind. Understanding this we avoid unwanted thoughts and manipulations. Pass through beautiful caves inside mountains and take a dip to find submerged Mauna Kea.

MIRAGE

Tensed under pressure a fissure was forming in my vessel of mind, it cracked open when I found a treasure. Like a miracle because they are often witnessed by only those who can see through all of life’s illusion – Like a mirage? Is love and thirst for love found only in a mirage? Some hearts are as a desert, you can die wandering in.

Look at the words in French – “Le coup de foudre” meaning love at first sight! Does this phenomenon exist? When, there is a “LIE” in belief; “US” in trust; “OVER” in a lover; “END” in a friend; “EX’ in a next and “IF” in life?

Dilemma in these thoughts on mirage and love at first sight took me some time to picture and get my own views on what  Robert Brault  wrote “Some say that true love is a mirage; seek it anyway, for all else is surely desert.

I am entering into an area that belongs to the gen next who owns up all their treasures from the God’s and Goddesses of love. Let me. Let me try to know about mirage first before I coin words on love.

A mirage is not only seen by thirsty desert wanderers. While I drove in Saudi Arabia on plenty of occasions I witnessed mirage. The ‘wet’ looking spot on the road up ahead could actually be a mirage that stays in the distance, as impossible to reach as a rainbow.

Normally, water in the distance is seen by its ability to reflect light off of its surface. In the case of a mirage, it is refraction, not reflection, creating a similar effect. The hot surface warms the air immediately above it to a higher temperature than the air higher up. A light ray grazing the surface under those circumstances is bent, or refracted, upward. That’s because light travels faster in warmer, less dense, air than in denser cold air. The faster motion of the lower part of a light ray speeds ahead of the upper part, causing it to bend (refract) upward. When the refracted light ray meets our eyes, it appears to be coming from the road surface instead of the distant sky.

That’s about driving in Saudi Arabia. But I never witnessed love at first sight.

Mirages tempt the desert wanderer to keep up hope to quench his thirst. Like most of us realize in finding true love or for that matter something dearer to us. What we missed so far is an illusion and a miracle is on way. That’s the secret; secret of secrets.

In the book SECRET it simply states that our thoughts control the universe. Through this “law of attraction” we “manifest” our desires. We must know what we want and the moment you ask you will attract it.

Interesting? I thought to try it out on Love at first sight! Let me pray. Prayers are answered from within; external circumstances are a result of internal convictions. If we change our thoughts we see brighter scenarios around us, possibilities, even in a mirage.

There were times for some of us when simple things did matter. Four of us after writing our school final public examinations used to sit on the beach side and view our own futures. A person used to come with a bundle of books to sell. On his cycle frame where he loaded books had a name – Touring Book Stall”, TBS. Recently I heard him speak in Calicut Management Association on the subject of “My Life ..”, His speech was about the search for the unknown journeying to mirage.

It’s a possibility. There is no secret for the secret. Our minds provide us with thoughts that are powerful and magnetic with a heavy charge. Pursuit of happiness is a pursuit on mirage; you only realize it’s a delusion at the end of the road through a tunnel and see light,

Love in our own expressions and behavior is attracted. Goodness and sharing of love without conditions is an explicit endeavor. It manifests, it opens up vistas and opportunities that we can find as possibilities to convert as miracles.

I am in my car, closer to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia (that was way back) and since travelled many distances looking for water in mirage. Still to find. But I found something exciting – happiness. In abundant forms. That’s what made me scribble these lines. To tell you to be happy.

“Le coup de foudre” literally means: “A sudden unexpected event of overwhelming passion, particularly an instance of love at first sight; like a stroke of lightning”. Love YOUR life.

 

Ups and downs

This month June 2017, we were in Visakhapatnam for a few days to be with friends. Standing on the frontage of the flat we stayed, I could see two high rise buildings. Later as we went round that place where in 1971, I worked as a management trainee of a MNC, I was informed that the two buildings are of 35 floors high and have nearly 800 flats. I took some pictures and sent to friends.

I took some other picture a week after that at the Gandhi Road, Christian College Junction on Kannur Road, in Kozhikode. That place now has no signs of the house where I lived as an infant till a few years ago – made to ground zero for the widening of the road.

Up and down?

Seethammathara, a remote village in Visakhapatnam then was approachable only by one bus and few cycle rickshaws. I worked there in night shifts manufacturing medical and industrial gases. Months later I got shifted to Madras. That landscape has changed and has given a rise to the two towers. Gandhi road widening demolished my home where I still keep memoirs.

Ups and downs!

Profoundly in a state of thought, I received a whatsapp message from my daughter showing a photo of her son riding his newly bought bi-cycle – a cute picture of my grandson.

 I linked my thoughts of “ups and downs” to that of the cycle.

Quote – “There’s rises and falls and ups and downs in all music”. Tim McGraw. The music must go on in spite of ups or downs, like the cycle.

During his annual school holidays as a custom we take our grandson for a giant wheel drive at one of those exhibitions. He is only eight years of age and he need to appreciate the ups and downs and the thrill of returning from the downs to ups again. No wonder – Sarah Todd Hammer said – Everyone has adventures in their lives – Some good ones, some bad ones”.

When I sent the picture of the newly laid road demolishing my home, my brothers and sisters engaged in conversations of the “Lost” feelings. I think materials provide us with instant and immediate pleasures that when lost or deleted like in a relationship make us worried, with concerns of what next?

I have changed from those training days in night shifts at Seethammathara. So are the landscapes in terms of growth. We need to be part of that change by adapting without conditions.

We should be like a clock we need not keep watching the clock. But do what it does. Keep moving, unconditionally. Be with the flow. Witness the lives and nature around. After all in those more than 50000 thoughts that come to our minds every day how many deserve our concerns? How many of those thoughts can we influence? Leave and let go.

Let’s keep our looks at the rise of the Sun, the one that wakes us UP. Let our shadows remain behind with the setting Sun as it sets DOWN.

We move on – lets pedal the cycle of life.

 

Horizontal and vertical – It’s all about space

It was early June that I spent a good lot of time with my sister’s husband who happens to be my cousin. We had a sumptuous feast of communications interesting from the fact that most were about the bygone era.

I mentioned about my engineering college days in Akathethara, Palakkad. And he said that none of the current generation can believe this. Yes it is true. My parents used to send a money order every month for my living expenses and I used to wait. The amount was Rs.70/- that comprised of around Rs.55/- towards the food and room rent that we shared between two. The balance went for a movie and some travel expenses and a biriyani and tea from Hotel Kashmir, Olavakkot.

I told him the cost per sardine small size that I bought a couple of days back was nearly Rs.5/- a piece. And on return way back from the fish market I recollected how when I was a school student in Calicut sardines crop during a season was so much (there was no cold storages then) that the fishermen had to dispose their catch. My father bought sardines in bamboo baskets at a price of 10 “naya” – paise per basket and put as manure for the coconut trees at home.

He spoke about his early days with the Japanese trainers in deep sea fishing that was first introduced in India by Norwegians and followed with the Japanese. He spoke a few words he remembered in Japanese and stories of Ayumu, his captain, who survived with four holes on his back near his waist line during world war. He was lying on his chest during a carpet bombing. Aged but strong they all worked nearly 18 to 19 hours in a day in deep sea. Eating was not in sitting position as waves and weather played a lot against.

He then suddenly remembered how he picked the seahorse Ayumu had captured from the fishing net along with fish. Ayumu asked him to return to him and he actually took a second one from Ayumu. Japanese believed that if you keep the shell of the seahorse it takes away evil spirits and wards off bad times!

We both continued to discuss and appreciate the old nostalgic pills coated with sugar and spice. After that I took a picture of those two seahorses and at home probed to know more of the creature God created to ward off evil spirits.

The seahorse name species is called Hippocampus. “Hippocampus” comes from the Ancient Greek word hippos meaning “horse” and campus meaning “sea monster”. Seahorses range in size from 1.5 to 35.5 cm and live in shallow waters. Seahorses swim upright, a characteristic not shared by their close pipe- fish relatives, which swim horizontally. That makes a difference and I noted that aspect and compared to the times I spent in work in Saudi Arabia where the Arabic language is written from left to right.

The concept of horizontal and vertical is a geometrical proposition and when applied to thought processes it gave me a corollary of the 9-hat game of parallel thinking by Edward de Bono.

The photo I captured on my cell phone was the toy in my hand that put me to a pedestal into future. A total deviation from the nostalgia filled discussions we had at my brother-in-laws home.

From where to where is the space that once seen as carrier for clouds, the full moon that came up in most of romantic poetry, aero planes and radio waves have shifted for communications of all kinds, scientific explorations and defense techniques etc. That space defines the way we live now.

The NET or internet depends on that horizontal and vertical space and decide how we operate our day’s schedules and time-passes like “whats-apping” and “face-booking”!

Most of our procedures and processes including health care and life is about that pattern. And we depend on the horizontal-vertical space around us.

Relationships that make and break also connect to the digital space we depend upon these days. The time-pass whether in waiting for the train or in a hypermarket mall is with the two fingers swiping on that tiny glass space, to rub and penetrate deeper into affairs and matters.

I was showing and telling about the radio that I used to wait for Radio Ceylon on Wednesdays at 8 pm to my grandson. He now has the remote control that switch to different channels and my grandson was astonished to know those old times of his Ammacha and how it was possible for those time’s people to live at such a slow speed!

I think as the parallel thinking methodology work out opportunities when we are stuck with choices and decisions the next generation people will explore things that recede the current trends into dust bins? Will it or the current times become obsolete with or without values?

The seahorse somehow helped me to think forward and positive – if it can swim vertical and Arabic can be read from left to right everything is a possibility as long as we indulge not in stuck spaces and idle moments, but move forward with a thought process that find ways for handling issues of relationships or more newer methodologies that make the next generation live their lives better.

 

 

 

Fear of the unknown

2016, we are almost close to changing the calendar. In front of us lie 365 days of uncertainty. I looked into the fear of unknown that hangs in some of our minds, on how the year is or going to be. After all this moment is a dot in the straight line of what unfolded and the next split second is an extension on the same straight line.

Steve job at the age of 20 started a company with two people at his parent’s garage and became a two billion dollar company in ten years. S he was fired he started new ventures NEXT and PIXAR. Steve was back. Rest is history. Heaviness of success he said replaced the lightness of the beginner in him.

In his last words before he succumbed he said: “Aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life. At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth: Perhaps relationships, art, and a dream from younger days. Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me. God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth. The wealth I have I cannot take. What I can is only memories precipitated by love. That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.”

Does it ring a bell in your mind?

Fear is within the human existence. It’s part of us. But in this context of the variety of fears what we confront is the risk of failure. We are afraid to try because we expect failure. However, if we reduce the cost of attempt, by experimenting, we reduce the cost of failure. Remember, every experiment has a perspective. The value of the opportunity if we succeed – the value of the people or situations we meet in the experiment and the exit value, value of the knowledge one gain in the process that may be applied elsewhere. Failures make us learn and add value to our asset – Knowledge.

“We do NOT fear the unknown, we fear what we think we know of the unknown” – Teal Swan.  We give meanings for the unknown. It is better to fall in love with uncertainty and be with it. Resist the fear of uncertainty and we lose all what we have. When we are born we are endorsed with what we call love. But as we progress we learn and mature with fear. Unlearning fear and relearning love in abundance is the transformation Steve spoke about.

Concern and curiosity provide us with answers that charge our minds with courage. Handle fear of unknown. Worrying actually reduces our capability to take decisions provided by uncertainty. It impairs judgments. As we are closer to the new 2017, let us open up our minds without fear and with courage based on decisive actions to deal with those unknown to us.

Isn’t our expectation and desires that takes us forward. Gaps between those and real are stressed situations. Handling uncertain moments is easy if our expectations are positive, that propel inner magnetic vibrations reflect energy. Ambition should be based on ability to do the best every moment.

Imagination is innovative. Visualize the best to happen. Let the mind and heart get thrilled with the elixir of imagination. Then we can resolve jigsaw puzzles of uncertainty and create a map for progress as we pass through 2017. Falling is easy getting up tougher. Wake up, bless and love and share what we can, as nothing belongs to us. Trust instincts; faith brings miracles.

It is unpredictability that provides options. Difficult times produce better results as we innovate and think better. It is a happy year ahead.

Be aware. Be blessed. Enjoy the new year – 2017.

Intermission

As I was packing for the next travel from Calicut to Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai, I read the word INTERMISSION, in a sports column. Wonder why that particular word caught my attention at the spur of that moment. That’s the way thoughts trigger – I suppose! I called attention of my wife to ask – “aren’t we at an intermission in our lives”. We both concurred – Yes.

As I decided to quit from active professional life, I had felt if trajectory of my life will fall off the track and I used to quiz myself to figure out whether the curtain is about to fall indicating the end game. Battled with this lingering feeling, I looked down upon retirement as I felt I was not yet tired. Thoughts slipped into school and college times when curtain fall in movie theatres indicating “INTERMISSION” on screens. Most people take a detour and find time to discuss and have a snack.

As we enact the life’s drama, an intermission provide us time for a re-visit of what’s already gone behind scenes, and to look forward to see what more? What else?

I underwent a checkup for my eye sight, when most of the small letters displayed could not be read. So what? I wore my glass and could read more and some left as unread. The prescription suggested changing lens and then I will be close to some more of the small letters.

I remembered intermission all over again – it is a recess, a part in between the grandiose lit by the youthful energy and now. I need to breath slowly, re-group and prepare for eventuality. Recently a close friend of mine got admitted to the hospital and we visited him. He smiled before he got into the theater to partially remove a portion of the only kidney he had (other already got removed). I felt at such times in our lives courage comes forth as a weapon.

The proposed travel is once again a leading light that flushes out the past feelings as we engross ourselves with our grandson and two daughters and their families. As I packed things I got lost in yearning, heard voices of children and grandchild. I could hear whispers of hope, prayers of concerns, and giggles of nervousness in anticipation of our visit. I wiped tears from my face, took a deep breath, stood up and smiled and got myself readied for the curtain to rise up – for the sun to rise tomorrow to enjoy the balance of journey.

I thought myself “who am I” – Tried to understand the answer. That took me through an arid count of channels of thought to understand what have I done and what I am planning to perform when the curtain lifts up after intermission.

I studied of the innumerable relations that were developed over a period, number of times I got hurt, felt un-happy and concerned. The snow cap of those thoughts was interesting that made me happier and felt good. As Khalil Gibran said – “What we desire is not always what we get.  Unknowingly many times we get things much more than what we expect……. and these are called – Blessings”

I looked at my old shelves of action and rewards, priorities, likes and dislikes, decisions taken in the spur of those moments and painstakingly went through memories of hurtful relationships to determine what it was that hurt me crushed me and made me feel sad. This resulted in a process of un-learning.  In a slow motion – I let myself go. I accepted my mistakes. I changed my point of view. I found myself wearing a new costume before the rise of curtains at that intermission. I am now free of all the shackles that bound me that did not allow me to fly after the curtain rise.

I resembled a different me as I looked at my mirror image. As Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “Destiny is a relationship—a play between divine grace and willful self-effort. Half of it you have no control over; half of it is absolutely in your hands, and your actions will show measurable consequence.”

I agreed with my conscience to replace my time table and plans with a SWOT analysis I did – to do my part without shackles of the past and free to draw and play a new role after the intermission. To trust in me – to do what I can.

I tried to look at good and bad. Some I had felt, as “bad” people were bad for me, or it may have been a bad time when I walked away from some of them. I want to hold on to those in my life who will lift me up to new levels. Those who will help me grow from my mistakes and successes.

We need to pass through intermissions at various stages of our lives. Introspection is an exercise of mental mapping where new contours are redrawn.  We need to recognize that rigidity is an interpretation of thoughts. This analysis possibly can be done when we take an intermission and sit back with a cup of tea to review. We need to key in and do an act of “UN-WIND” on ourselves.

“Make your life a mission, not an intermission.” ~Arnold H. Glasgow.