My Journey From Head to Heart
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Of Recipes, Books, Indian Rail & Music...

So, here’s the thing...I got my bike completely hassle free; dent free & on time as promised so all kudos to Indian Railways. Apparently they charge Rs.10 per hour as late charges for every hour they keep your stuff stashed. (They did extort Rs. 50 in the name of sundry expenses going to sundry people, but that’s ok as long as they delivered on the contract, which they did). It felt a lil weird for a day driving my bike back in the evening, as I have done it so many times 2000 km’s away in south India but suddenly the landscape has changed, the climate has changed & the people have changed around my bike & me. It’s nice to just drive around aimlessly & discover new things in ones old city. The roads are wider and and so much greenery.

Parents have left me alone at home to look after myself & I must say I take very good care of the house, which is to say it’s not robbed or burnt down or got pest infested, yet! I am in charge of cooking my own food. My potato dish is world famous in Chennai, however I had never prepared daal & chawal before because getting the right mix of water & pulses is frankly quite intimidating. So caught between the risk of high pitta precipitated by no food at home & laziness to go out and eat, I called mom and skillfully extracted the secret blend of daal & rice for 1 person and quantity of water for that.

And boy was it amazing! I almost felt sorry for being the only one to have the good providence of savoring the delicacy from the kitchens of paradise! I am the new master of delicious daal, chawal & of my favorite vegetable in the universe, the aloo!

There is a brand spanking new CCD near my home and the ambiance is great. It’s nice to lounge there sometimes with Spinach & Corn sandwich, café latte, my laptop and Wi-Fi. And oh yeah, it’s adjacent to girls dental college! :)

I completed the book Eat Pray Love which is now also a movie starring Julia Roberts. It’s true story of a woman who, to find peace, wisdom, happiness & herself devotes a year travelling to Italy (eat), to India (pray) & Indonesia (love or to find balance). The part in Italy wants you to break into impromptu Italian & gallivant in the lanes of Italy to devour those delicious juicy Pizzas hand tossed in wood burning ovens, although a lot of non-veg dishes are mentioned needlessly. The ashram life in India is so familiar & the meditation experiences so real. Overall the book reads well, esp. the parts in Italy & Indian ashram & as a travel book.

I am also revisiting The West Wing series. It’s based on a fictional white house with real life issues. It’s one of the most powerful things on TV you will ever watch. It almost runs like a fast paced movie. It’s quick, profoundly intelligent & wildly entertaining. Most of all it’s a fascinating sketch on friendship, character & leadership skills. Martin Sheen is phenomenally brilliant as the president of the United States & so are the others on the staff.

During one of my many journeys this year I was waiting on a railway platform & was bored out of my wits. Add to it my train was running late, air was hot & humid & the platform was not exactly the shining illustration of cleanliness by Indian railways. I was beginning to get irritated & that’s when I plugged in my Creative Zen (fitting name, right!) MP4 player & out of nowhere everything shifts. The air instantly seemed cool, the unruly passengers like extended family & I felt at home on that platform with tom & jerry running around. I think so is the case in our lives. Outside is just the scenery, what matters most is what’s inside. You change the music inside & the movie outside changes!

So long Chennai...

“Man's feelings are always purest and most glowing in the hour of meeting and of farewell.”

It was for a vacation in the Millennium year when I first arrived in Chennai- the land of thousands of coconut trees, heaps of rice and white dhoti clad ebony hued souls!

It’s been 5 years since my return and it’s time now to say until we meet again.. :)

I really think if one truly wants to take a vacation, disconnect from life as one knows it day in and day out, one should consider a territory where even the bill-boards & address outside shops also seems to have been written in some alien dialect lost to humanity a few hundred years ago. For me, it was like that, when I came here.

I had not come back here for a vacation. My bro-in-law, Sister & cutest lil niece are here, and I ambled here to work. My 1st job, for 3 wonderful years, was in a GPS telecommunications company at Tidel park.

Just by the virtue of staying in Chennai I have become a licensed haggler of expert category. My heart is filled with gratitude towards all the auto drivers without whom this achievement would not have been possible. I dedicate this honor to all of them who would almost always quote double fare reckoning me to be a bakra fresh from some far flung corner of the universe unaware of the ways things work in the auto-rickshaw realm!

First thing that struck me about Chennai was I could be lost in my dreamland, amidst chaos.

Even if someone abused me in Tamil I would often misconstrue it as sweet nothings and move on. And since I am not expected to know the language I wasn’t expected to retort thus the rules of engagement were not in play and my innate Machismo would remain untainted! :). However my attempts to eves drop in a public transport on animated discussions between various unsuspecting couple revealed nothing. A minor disadvantage one may argue, but then I get to save my mind from unnecessary gossip!

Masala dosa(i?) had always been my favorite. In our house (as in other North Indian homes) it would be a special day when mom made dosas (Sunday special etc) and I’d eat no less than 6-8 of them. And it won’t be plain masala dosa with podi as it is common here. It is rich Masala Dosa, made from batter prepared at home, with two kinds of chutneys and full on sambhar. It’s sufficient to say I had truck loads of my share of Dosas here! :).

Although I had quite a culture shock initially when I encountered people licking curd and/or rice of their fingers, palms, wrists, elbows even in posh restaurants…as if they were dining privately in their bathrooms! But I’ll surely miss unlimited meals (especially Andhra meals)! Hopefully the Madras Cafes over there have it on their menus.

I am a witness to some of Chennai’s significant events like unveiling of Kathipada flyover, beautification of the Tidal Park (my erstwhile office) road, swanky new malls, Rajni/Vijay crazy fans on the first day first show, Tsunami, new A/C buses, unearthly heat, humidity & hurricanes!

I can go on and on about Chennai: it’s beautiful Temples, thousands of Coconut trees, amazing ECR road drives, early morning fragrance of flowers, chandan, ash & Vada-coffee at the bus stop, the trademark drum beats music, fresh rangolis in front of every home in the morning & evening, men with vibhuti adorned forehead & women with colorful saris and gajras, sunset, sunrise, dips & meditations at the beach, ...these are just some of the truly beautiful things native only to South India.

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”

I learnt life’s big & important lessons here: Got my heart broken to the extent that I was convinced it was beyond repair..Had my first experience of Smirnoff Vodka & Wills Navy cut…wrestled with the overwhelming thoughts of suicide on one hand and a raging desire to be a terrorist on the other. I remember working nonstop for 15 hours for weeks and yet unsuccessful in any sleep or peace. The deafening noise in my head was so much that I literally could not hear what I was thinking. The absolute agony of being in love. I fought & walked out of my home one midnight, only to discover who my real friends were & understand the importance of a family.

And I remember my first long kriya, the nonstop tears of gratitude next morning listening to Radhe-2 mann boley by Vikram Bhaiya…Experienced so much love that cannot be contained in my heart and it literally would spill out in tears of gratitude. I discovered there is so much more to me & there is so much more to life! I felt peace, belongingness, contentment, longing which I had never felt before. I learnt how to care immensely and without any expectations, to smile & serve when one is sad is the best way to come out of it & the sense of what and whom to hold on to & what to let go. Above all I learnt the most about love, pain, emotions & grace.

The cup of consciousness and life is much deeper & stronger now.

The best thing is, last month while doing the 7 days Guru Purnima advance course in ashram I had the realization that I had literally nothing left to be sad about! I couldn’t imagine anybody I should hate & I couldn't think anyone as my enemy! And what an absolutely magical feeling that is and quite a leap from when I used to go for advance courses with my dil ke tukde :)

On the 1st day of my 1st Yes!+ I read this quote by Guruji on a huge banner hung in AGN - “When a bud breaks, it becomes a flower & when heart breaks, it becomes divine!”. It didn’t make any sense for a long time. I finally did understand what Guruji meant. J

Romba Nandri Chennai J. Until we meet again…

“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”

“Distance never separates two hearts that really care, for our memories span the miles and in seconds we are there.”

Mangoes, Mumbai Locals & Extra Cheese!!!

Do read up part 1 of Amchi Mumbai chronicles.

So, with some sadistic quirk of fate I was left alone with Bau at Anjana Di’s home one lazy afternoon and unable to figure the right thing (or anything) to say I sank my head in my Laptop, when Bau asked about my Mumbai trip!. Like a little boy caught staring at a girl, I shared my learning's (minus the girls part of course, although now he knows that too!) about talks, Yes!+ etc and then we hit upon one of the passions which is very close to both our hearts (well closer to our stomach really) - FOOD! Well, for me eating and for him cooking and of course eating and experimenting! :)

As Bau says (and I agree) Mumbai is the food capital of the world. One has infinite options ranging from Rs. 5 to 500 Rs. Chat itself has so many choices – all with extra dollops of Butter or Cheese. The markets, spaces outside station are rendered so colorful owing to the presence of all the chat stalls. Double Roti, Vada Paav, Ice Bhel, flavored lassi, Ice Sev Poori, Jal Jeera, Gola, Paav Bhaji, Chaas – and these are just road side vendors. Things get all the more interesting when one enters an up market joint. For instance best sizzlers (Omg Yummylicious) in Pop Tates, best Punjabi food in Urban Tadka, Best of Rajasthani-Gujarati cuisine in Rajdhani and so on. Bhel poori is freely accessible at all local stations! And then there was Pastas’ by Di! And Gujarati food – Dhokla, Oondhiya, Patra, Kadhi, Thepla, Khandvi etc etc. There were more varieties of Dosas then I have seen in Chennai! Cheese dosa, pav bhaji dosa, Spinach Dosa, double roti dosa etc etc.

But to top it all – Mangoes!


There’s a special Mango called Payri. I kid you not we ate (drank!?) it’s soup, clear Mango soup in a bowl complete with a Soup spoon! And it was insanely rich, thick, creamy and sinfully delicious!

To everyone's shock & ridicule I was not a big fan of Mangoes (give me Grapes, Kiwi, Strawberries or even Bananas), mango for me was  just too messy a deal. But people are chillingly cuckoo about the stupid fruit! And some of it rubbed on me too by the time I left Mumbai. I am proud to say that I am a Mango convert now! :). Btw mangoes at that time were like 1000 Rs. per Kg. Now that is just the recipe for disaster – ungodly heat, crazy mango fanatics with out of reach mangoes!!!

By this time I was becoming increasingly notorious for desiring (even longing for) and hogging food!. It is actually nice once everyone accepts the fact that you are a total gone case, it becomes easy to be oneself. :)mumbai_trains_doorways_23

In Mumbai people age, have babies, consume (and digest)  food, finish semester exams, propose (to girls/clients/guys), get married & divorced, complete World of Warcraft, by heart Encyclopedia Britannica, all from a car/bike at traffic signals!

The lucky (and smart) ones take Mumbai locals! It’s literally the backbone of Mumbai, an amazing mode of commute, carries 7 million passengers everyday, arrives every few seconds and departs even before you can crack open a Peanut (groundnut!?) shell!

And one has a very high probability of falling in Love whilst on them! Imagine you are with the girl/boy of your dreams – in a Mumbai local. No place to stand, 3 unknown pair of hands find refuge in 1 hand rest, being pushed from all 10 directions – one is left with no other choice but to act all manly to protect the lady love from the pesky passengers. And amidst all this chaos, in ever so decreasing space between each other,  the time stops when their eyes meet, hands touch, strands of locks flutter about, the body odor gets entangled with each other, one overhears ‘tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanammmm...’ blaring from neighbor dudes Radio  – and then happens the chemical reaction of Love! :). It’s kind of sweet really to see a girl in guy’s compartment, with another dude, getting all cozy up. Btw this is just one of the many examples of male tolerance. No woman would let even a toenail of a man in a women’s compartment! :)

One learns belongingness, dispassion and surrender while travelling in locals. Just have to stand near the gate and one will either be escorted outside or carried inside (almost always the opposite of where you wanna be) by equally dispassionate passengers . And doesn’t matter where you are going, it will take at least an hour to get there. And this time would be utilized by talking to people about the course! Specially amazed was I, when these girls with me went about talking to passengers on different seats, as if they were loitering in an orchard picking Apples.

I got lost twice in the maze of trains, but found my way soon enough to make it for the college talks running on the IST time. :). It’s really special to ride the local when the sun is setting on the parallel track! I remember feeling so happy and peaceful amidst all the chaos & sea of humanity at sundown and also so belonged and Indian! :). Only in India you can push or shove or glare or mumble at somebody and then confirm the details of next station or time or cricket score from the same person after 25 seconds. :)

So after travelling 100s of Kilometers, talking to 100’s of youths and eating awesome food everyday, we were closing on to the day when I was going to be the part of the biggest Yes!+ of my life and the course which raised the bar a lot more....!

Amchi Mumbai - 1!!!

Mumbai truly rocks! I arrived in Mumbai on Holi. No sooner than I landed here, much to my protest I was colored all over in hitherto unknown new hues, doing a rain dance to the tunes of a DJ for hours! Rain dance on Holi is esp.. a lot of fun. People waste much more water by just having a non-veg diet, so a rain dance in contrast, is harmless fun. :)

And boy, do girls know how to have fun! They just dance n dance and keep inventing steps along the way, until lured away with promise of a Thandai! Speaking of girls, Mumbai girls are oh my god! :) Even an ordinary girl looks so gorgeous. They can carry themselves with such careless beauty. :)


I came to Mumbai to work for and learn from the 1,00,008 Yes!+ mega course with none other than Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya themselves. After scrubbing off all the color and having a sumptuous wholesome Gujarati meal (courtesy Anjana di’s mom) we went out for campaigning in the evening on the streets of Mulund, near Anjana di’s home, where I was staying. It was a very nice learning experience.

So far, I was comfortable only with organized HIT’s and college/hostel intro talks, talking to random people wasn’t my style. :) So, initially in random talks I would be the concluding voice in a group of two. Special fun were talks in Mumbai locals. :) Mumbai volunteers are also very committed and chilled out at the same time. As a committed volunteer they took personal ownership and responsibility of the course, took initiatives to arrange talks in there colleges and there was no need for follow up for tasks agreed upon.

The course was initially supposed to be for 1 lakh youth. The target was revised to 1008 people as there were exams or IV’s in most of the colleges. 1 lakh course will now happen in 2011, with a vision of having 10,00,008 youths doing the course by 2012 end. The reason behind such an ambitious vision was the spate of sudden youth suicides in Mumbai and Pune. We have the answer which is very effective, practical and fun at the same time – Yes!+.

Anyway, we went out on the streets talking to people and putting up really creative posters created specially for this course. I spoke to this girl working for Hindustan Times and smoking her lungs away. When asked if she has heard of Art of living, she responded ‘yeah not much but I know all this is sham’. I embarrassed her by concluding that even I smoked but now I have a better alternative for time pass/stress release which gives a better kick and does not leaves a bad taste in the mouth. :) Cute girl though, with a nose ring and perfect smile, 1 cigarette ruined it all for me though. :)

This was the time of annual cultural fest for most of the colleges. Some of us also indulged in them – Tanvi Di n Mayuri (after a lot of drama :)) did rappelling. College talks were very effective. For the 1st time 12 and more people would register on the spot!

Another good work of innovation was the cool n colorful visiting card size brochures/pamphlets with all the follow up details which were handed out after a talk. It worked very well, when we present the course and they have an option to research more after going home. I realized that Bessy beach talks never worked because we expected people to register on the spot.

I was also missing Tuffy (my dog) here. 2nd day in Mumbai we had a satsang in this very beautiful bungalow of Piyush bhai (Yes!+ teacher). He has a huge dog – Sonu. Huge but very calm, furry n cute dog. It was so much fun to play with him. :)

Two most important things in Mumbai – Travel and Food! and the course itself which redefined Yes!+ : )…

I am the most famous dialogue of Terminator-2!

Wow! There was a time when I used to post twice in a day and now it has almost been a year without a single post. Most of my posts were typed during work hours (with nothing better or interesting to do : ). I remember having this urge to sort out life and it’s complicated questions at times when I was getting paid to do something else, like my job :). Also, with Facebook one can just ‘Micro blog’ – capsulate events of the day, state of the mind etc all in 4-5 lines. However, blogging helps one to understand, convey, unravel, improve, opine, reach out, raise issues, debate – which FB doesn’t.

I started blogging to make sense and articulate all that was going in my head or all that was baffling or wonderful in life. I was under the impression that after I bought my own laptop I would write more. It’s the same logic we apply while buying TV or cable that we’ll watch only News or Discovery or Cricket but soon all we watch is anything but all of the above. Reminds me of an incidence happened long back. i used to be pretty good with quizzes and current affairs. My cousins logic was ‘everyone who has a cable TV can be smart as they get Discovery etc, I’ll also know all answers when cable comes to my home”. I had cable. However when they got cable all they’d watch is MTV! The point being one can have anything and everything at hand but what one chooses to do with it matters. As Bau says mere knowing that buying shares of Reliance Inc. will make you richer is not going to make anyone rich. One has to act on that knowledge, buy-hold-sell the shares to get rich.

So, there is much to write, lots to remember, ample to articulate as life has been quite a ride lately, a lot smoother than before although, all thanks to Yes!+ and all that encompasses it.  :) I think I’ll begin with the latest and track back with no particular chronological order. :) So I am in Aamchi Mumbai now…

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