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Amarnath in the times of article 370

Even after thinking about doing something daily, one ends up doing it, achieving it, finishing it only in the head. In the head is good, as it creates enough compound interest in head but it is not good enough.

I have had ups and downs, and have been away from home for some time. I was in Kashmir when article 370 was taken off. I was one of the last person to have trekked the majestic Amarnath ji this year. Without any plan or any inclination to have wanted to do it but surrendering to flow of life is such it takes you along on the paths, and you would enjoy. I fell in love with the harmony of the few people who walked along, some saints barefoot, and two without a leg who finished approximately sixty kilometres in as many days as I did. Food, sweets, tea, love and the name of shiva.

But the feeling was erratic even then. Tents, people were leaving a month before. And many had already left. The way was completely empty of any pilgrim coming from the other side. Probably that also made it count. It was quiet and you walked with your own self, slowly, quietly.

Phone lines and internet was called off a day after I arrived back home in Srinagar. I couldn’t get time to make any arrangements of leaving as it had become intense to stay over. It was a very vulnerable time in the valley and who knows what is going on even now. It took me nine more days to come out of the valley. I found a punjabi driver from Jammu early in the morning almost ready to leave. It was a beautiful morning over Dal. You could see clouds gathering over the ancient waters and over the Mahadev hill. The way back was as tense. We were stopped numerous times even before Banihal came, because on the other side, you would not imagine how many trucks, cadres, were filling in the valley. Testing time for a government who had just arrived three weeks ago and even before anyone could have blinked on something as mammoth an article as 370, which had probably made Kashmiri’s, laddakhis, Pandits, Punjabis as special and as vulnerable of their identity for all these decades after independence.

I had worked myself as a researcher and teacher in the border villages, in the most gruesome winters and thus have an idea of how the minds of local authorities work in contention and sometimes not in harmony with the army. How people can never almost challenge the claims and information that these authorities gather.

Things are bound to change.

I am sitting in a mud room in the outskirts of Laddakh. Writing after so long on my blog even though I wrote it daily in my head. I hope I present myself daily. Because this blog is not for me. This is for you. And if you are reading this right now, you may let me know.

Two weeks have passed. Two weeks are to come. The nights have become colder. Laddakh has been very kind. It’s the land of awakening. I came here in 2007 on my bike when rivers still went through roads. And somebody then had told me the full form of Leh that I took seriously then but I have never forgotten it. Life Ends Here. Or it starts again.

I am working on my first photo book here. On the work that I did in Cambodia. I will share more news soon but before all that comes out, I will be hitting the road again. May be to Zanskar, or may be to meet my children again to the village I taught 8 years ago.

Till then,

A very warm hello to you all again.

In Omni to Hanley

When young, drive Omni.

Scan156

To zojila, to Leh, to Hanle, to tso moreri, to i don’t know what pass that came after hundred’s of horses ran to take left, we took towards sky- a concrete river bed on top of a conical mountain which went all afternoon. Many called it a road. Through a broken bridge, through the ditches connecting another ditch on the Yoga day. While laughing at others. While laughing atourselves. While stopping before every loop to the mountain up. The dancing carrier. The nostalgia of the petrol fumes over six days. As every bicycle left us behind. Our omni made it across the Rohtang. But always carry two people to push it through. We needed many only once.

On the road with Omni | July 15.

Better than perfect ?

Draw a perfect circle. Use a compass or a plotter.

Now, zoom in. If you zoom in close enough, you’ll discover that it’s not a perfect circle at all. In fact, anything we create, at close enough magnification, isn’t perfect.

It’s foolish to wait until you’ve made something that’s perfect, because you never will. The alternative is to continue to move toward your imaginary ideal, shipping as you iterate.

Getter better is the path to better.

Tomorrow comes daily

Ruts don’t dig themselves.

Most of the time, we’re in a rut because that’s precisely where we put ourselves.

Actions become habits, and habits get repeated because they feel safe.

The easiest way to make things more interesting is to simply stop repeating your habitual behavior.

And that often comes from reacting to triggers. Remove the triggers and you can alter the habits.

Tiny changes. Different ways to keep score.

Tomorrow comes daily. But we don’t have to take the same route to get there.

India

He woke up four inches below the snow like bed. But the day ahead was going to be as treacherous. He felt excited because travelling to rural India gave a smile to his face. Indian villages to a good extent still practice their civilisational old traditions. The air is different, the land for miles is green. But leaving Delhi behind is a lengthy affair. Their is an infrastructure push. Hundreds and thousands of trees that once gave beauty, breath and shade have now given way to expressway and highways and along with it empty, always being constructed high rise buildings. Slowly we start going past it. And we start seeing cow dung cakes kept for sun drying for kilometres. For centuries cow dung cakes known as “upla” in Hindi are used for cooking, cleaning homes and for homa- the fire worship. It’s smoke is known to purify the environment killing small insects and creatures. Many years ago someone said to Nara about India, when he was roaming in the river valleys of Kedar, that India is made up of two things- Rishi and Krishi. Rishi- the old divine sages who wandered and sat for years at one place for tapa for doing meditation/tapa generating energies for the universe as much as themselves roamed and set an example for people. In older times the kings had sages as advisers and worshipers for the king and kingdom. And Krishi- agriculture. India was and still to a good extent is an agriculture dominated nation. But like it is around the world things are changing. The lives have become faster. With more comfort given. Time gets deducted.

After many years nara was visiting his place of birth. Just a few days ago he saw a photograph of himself naked, crying, getting an oil massage lying on the legs of his grandmother. The same legs which will be amputated twenty seven years later due to gangrene. And be the cause of her slow, painful, almost sudden death. He stopped to pee near a well but away. The well was Deep but dry. The moment he turned he froze and for many minutes stood looking at the sun till he was set. Reaching his ancestral home was only good till he entered inside it. Not because a blind buffalo kept looking in his direction. But the home was gloomy and seemed to have stopped growing. It was bereaved of any kind of color. The laughs were as hollow as the understanding of a butcher of a goat. Moreover it was also the cough that had taken some of his mind off. His ribs had started hurting and his throat was drier. The water was delicious. It was said many years ago Ganga flowed through this village. It was that time when many farmers had also discovered centuries old statues, coins, shiva and Vishnu idols while farming their land.

He ate little bit and Left for the wedding that was forty kilometres futhur twards the direction of the river. Many Sugarcane tractors and trucks stood in a line throughout the road. Farmers had burned their land where sugarcane grew and now will prepare it again for the second crop. State highways were beautifully laden taking him through the interiors of U.P. It was night soon.

Seeing the wedding venue disappointed him. It was not the usual village wedding but seemed to have become a bad model of a city one. In a banquet hall. With the loudest speakers without any understanding of sound. There were loud beats that trembled your whole body. Girls and boys dancing. Some elderly women and drunk men on one DJ stage. People had only started to come. In front of the venue on the other side of the road where just an amount of filtered light from the wedding venue was reaching. Stood an age old pipal tree. Which looked like to have come out from a now deceased structure, some bricks still could be seen attached along the roots that have outgrown any possibility of human involvement anymore. He found a place to sit beneath and enjoyed all the ongoings from far. Without any desire to talk, to meet anyone or even to eat. He sat like a well dressed man with a muffler around his neck quietly observing life.

Food and the world on a new yogi’s mind

It was time the sun arrived when he decided going to bed again. After last night chocolate truffle the cough had soared. In his sleep he chanced upon the pizzas of fat lulu because only they had items where he could find some vegetarian ones. The voice inside him for many months had been asking him to leave dairy. Even when it is the best time to be a cow in India, he thought, milk like few other well marketed products have been projected as a necessity to humanity. So he started writing alternatives whenever any possible eatable came to his mind. He wrote it on a small diary he was keeping in the right cheek of his behind. But while on the road that led to an elite market, he saw a fruit man selling in February a watermelon. Is there something called a season ? Because time seems to have taken a back seat. But he stopped, thinking all fruits are good. When Manu Called he was counting his chewing the papaya in his mind, to make sure he reaches thirty two before he could put the next slice. Standing, his eyes stopped at a few children who were praying and garlanding their parents. It was a sight. Who prays first of all. And to their parents!! Something happened? Are they alright? Many Mothers, fathers seated on chairs at a podium and many little kids taking one round after another with a garland made of marigolds and a ghee Diya lit kept on a plate. Parents looked proud and took many selfies. They sang and danced afterwards when a young woman suddenly came upfront and stood beside him, looking at his mouth desirously or could it be a new way of begging. But she stood watching and the moment he dropped his gaze on her, she overturned like a rubber, like body with an elastic spine and summersaulted standing where she was. Her prize was the left Papaya’s, Watermelon’s, Carrot’s and many other fruits that you never find in February.