My Journey From Head to Heart
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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.”

3 Hitch Hikers:

Vaishnavi said...

how deeply you write ash... couldn't help but shed a few tears... will sorely miss you!

Abhiram said...

Superb post ash...Hope to see you soon in the Ashram... :-) :-) :-)

Amit said...

wah! wah!
kya baat hai!

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