Sunday, October 07, 2012

Blessing In The Form Of A Power Cut


 In the NGO project near Bangalore which I frequently visit, nights spent without power are not only not a hindrance they are considered almost romantic. This must be one of the few places on earth  where to this day, we use solar lanturns or candle power for illumination after dark - unless someone with shining teeth who has been using Colgate whitening toothpaste agrees to sit smiling for us for two to three hours in the dark in order that we might see each other.

Contrast this with Bombay where we are blessed with so much more electricity than our fair share and so spoiled, that each sudden power failure catches us unawares and has us swearing at the government as we go scrabbling in the dark for candles and torches. But this Saturday evening was an exception.

The sudden power failure in our area on Saturday night was one of those rare occasions which actually had me smiling.  I had returned home towards half past eight, from a music session round the corner, to find a loud dhoom dhoom teenage party in full swing on the building lawn. One of the juvenile brats of an older grey haired and equally brattish resident of the building was apparently celebrating his eighteenth, nineteenth or twentieth birthday. Somebody had said it was his engagement party but that was hard to believe because like, who would want to marry this noisy, spoiled rotten, lumpy looking kid who was so good at exercising his lung power and generally throwing his weight around?

Whoever was not part of the party was compelled into silence as nobody could make themselves heard above the deafening roar. Glancing down at the lawn from the balcony I saw a little groups of youngsters in jeans and mini skirts, dancing self consciously to the yucky music occasionally stopping in their tracks to answer a mobile phone or tap out an sms before carrying on. So when relief came in the form of a sudden blackout and the noise unwound to a jerky stop, my normal inclination to curse and sigh was replaced by a triumphant, “Oh goody goody goody.”

I spent the next hour alternating between wry, ironic short stories by Dorothy Parker and Pema Chodron on my Ipad, using the latter  to try and balance out the aggressively triumphant feeling which had surfaced, almost the kind that members of Hindu fascist groups must feel when something bad happens to their secular and equally evil opponents.

By the time the lights popped on again it was too late for the party to continue. Only the yowling of a couple of tomcats was audible. Maybe the blackout  was not such a bad thing for the young ones too, maybe they discovered the kind of togetherness that lies beyond noise.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Really Happens In The Silence :)

The apathetic silence in the blog during the last months if not the last year, hardly reflects what we’ve been up to. As usual there have been guests. Unseasonal ones like Dwight who turned up in the middle of the monsoon for three weeks and who came in very handy during our September workshop for which a whole lot of arrangements needed to be made. The groups have been going on, notably the Thursday “Dialogue group” in which we learn to express ourselves in relationship, honestly but with respect for the others. This particular group appears to have brought benefits all round, providing both an arena for self exploration and for looking at relationships as well as mastering the art of effective dialogue.

Our last workshop as well, in the first week of September, brought up some essential questions concerning life and relationships and left everyone feeling more grounded, and connected with each other. And the best part was as usual was when, in between sessions we got a chance to cool off on the verandah, gazing at soothing shades of green with things flitting in and out – birds and squirrels and one morning, when Sudha and I were chilling on the balcony of our house, a big fat chameleon climbing a tree, which seemed transfixed at seeing us and then went and hid behind the tree trunk preventing me from getting some good front shots.

Chameleon playing hide and seek

Meanwhile, the weather in Bombay has been most unlike its usual punitive self. Maybe it’s our proximity to the sea that does it but in spite of the fact that the monsoon is slowly edging its way out, it remains cool and pleasant most of the time. There have been a few muggy intervals but these have been rare.

Among the fun developments have been our monthly informal Saturday evening sessions combining work and dinner. At the last one just before leaving for the workshop, newcomer Kunal among other things, led us through a singing meditation which turned out to be quite soothing and meditative.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Path on the Herren Insel

The weather in Germany is going through decided mood swings which no psychiatrist could even begin to address. The first few days were sunny and wonderfully warm – the right kind of warm, not the kind of thing where you feel yourself melting like cubes of ice left out too long. Then the sky began to cloud over and overnight the temperatures dropped to below 15 degrees C or at least it felt like it. I found myself huddled on the patio facing the garden, in coats and sweaters with a shawl flung over my shoulders and still not warm enough. Then a few days of sun and cloud and rain playing hide and seek with each other, followed by a really scorching hot day which my friend Angela and I spent romping about on a nearby island. Nice weather to sit in the shade outdoors and read a book. I was just beginning to relax when the next day began sunny but turned cloudy again and the sky turned the waterworks on. Brrrrr. And now as I write this it is turning fine again so when I’m through with blogging I’ll make myself comfortable outdoors again.

 Friends Bibsi and Regina on our trip to the Herren Insel


Last night Ariela, with whom I’m staying, mulling over her long drawn out tooth operation which was to take place the next morning, which is right now. Knocking back red wine. Incidentally I was introduced recently by G√ľnter, to a marvellous Spanish red wine – Grand Reserva 2005, Valdepenos – which is also marvellously inexpensive. For € 3 a bottle it’s a steal. We were joined by hundreds of visitors, tiny specs hopping and flying about and frequently falling into the wine. Fruit flies said Ariela. My glass had at least fifteen of them floating about. I finally decided to lump it and to swallow the whole lot with the wine.


                                                                                Houses on the Frauen Insel


 So finally after years of visiting Prien I finally made it to the two islands across the Chiemsee from Prien – peculiarly named the “Herren Insel” (Men’s island) and the “Frauen Insel” (Women’s island). Actually the Frauen Insel was the hideout of the nuns who inhabited the Benedictine convent whereas the Herren Insel is known for its monastery founded in 782 by the Duke of Bavaria. Going around the Frauen Insel we bumped into a group of little old nuns clad in black habits who happily pointed in our direction and stood still for us to take photos. Angela and I figured that they’re probably trotted out every now and then for people to photograph though by far the biggest attraction on the island are the beer bars and cafes, many of which have a brilliant lake view. We  had lunch at one of them. I've got to the stage when I feel constrained to order "senior citizen portions" (they call them "senioren portionen) which to me seem just about as much as I can handle. But at least I can still handle the beer.

                                                                                Small church on the island

                                                                One of the numerous restaurants on the island

 Prien jetty