How to get distracted

You know how it goes, you are watching a video in youtube and suddenly you are watching other videos that came up in the related links. Since #backoffIndia is trending, I was browsing Nepali news channels and then I found this old Nepali song ‘Kun mandir ma’ sung by Mr Robin Sharma which is a poem by Nepal’s greatest poet Laxmi P. Devkota. Need I say that it has become my favourite song.

It is such a beautiful poem. I am sure it can be interpreted more intelligently and in much depth but I love whatever little I’ve understood and find it soothing to the soul. Religions are so confusing, remember the Hindi movie PK where a human like alien gets stranded on earth and is befuddled by different religious practices and beliefs and doesn’t know how to go about getting what he wants from God because one religion says one thing and another the exact opposite in their different ideas of pleasing God. When infact human beings pray to the same God and religion is just a cultivated habit, a method we adopt because it is familiar (by means of observations or teachings), and is an easy or comfortable option among the available options to us. An element of nurture! Many people including me have gone through confusion and religious ambiguity. It must be natural when you have so many questions and you believe in God too. But I think a person comes to a decision ultimately and is in peace with it. One’s frame of mind cannot be like a vibrating tuning fork forever, no?

Anyways, in this song we are being urged to look to ourselves rather then going to a temple, with emphasis on hard work, good deeds, humanity, etc. A little translation below

“Which temple will you go to, pilgrim?
Which temple should one go to?
What goods for the prayer?
How will you take them with you?

The beautiful Pillars of bones
The Walls of flesh
The golden Roof of brain
The Doors of sense organs
The liquid waves of vein rivers
The Temple itself untraversable”

See what the poet did there? He gave a little lesson in anatomy as well. Sweet! And Mr Robin Sharma has that wonderful voice. Check out the video!

L.P. Devkota, the nation of Nepal is indebted to him. If he were someone other than a Nepalese, he would have been a Noble laureate surely, I mean without the language constraint! The movie ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ kind of reminds me of him, in terms of luck not being in his favour and he being much ahead of his time. But it is said that he was the kindest man one could find. A story goes that he had nothing and no steady income, still he took off his coat and gave it to a beggar in the street. And many more. Simplicity, patrotism, kindness, humanity, progressivenss, he paved the way for all the Nepalese youths. I personally believe his essay ‘Is Nepal small?’ which was in our school curriculum accounts for the patrotism we Nepalese youths have and believe to be innate. And who can forget the snippet from ‘Muna Madan’ where a high caste person touches the feet of someone not of his stature? Not heard of at that time and until many decades afterwards. A Nepalese is proud of many things, I found one more reason today, we are of the country where these legends were born and they were great humans inspite of everything. And we have their works that graces our lives and gives us that soulful connection.

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About dramas and life imitating art

I have watched too many free stuffs on youtube, I mean many East Asian TV dramas; Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc, more than is good. I fear I may have unintentionally become somewhat of an expert on the subject, not that anyone has asked for my expert opinion ever. Ofcourse I’ve weaned myself off this hobby
a long time ago but the memories remain! It was good while it lasted and interesting and educative. I overdid it and there can be only one fate when you do a thing excessively. The threshhold of boredom was reached!

Looking back, I think I was first pulled into it by the visuals of beautiful people (unbelievably beautiful) and kept on watching when I found out how relatable the family system, culture, friendship and personal equations shown in the stories were, not to mention the opportunity to get an insight to foreign cultures it presented. I had this one misconception that people usually have of other people from foreign countries. I thought that East Asians were unemotional and cold. Probably because of the tourists of those regions to my country I noticed at a young age, who with their cameras and cotton hats (which frustrates me as much as the fringe haircut on Asian girls, the frequency!) used to remain aloof and indifferent and never interacted with the locals unlike say Europeans or Americans. I’m glad to say I was rid of my misconception after watching the many dramas. I may have even said “Oh! They are like us!”

Any ways, these are off topic trivia and personal opinions. But while I am at it, let me shoot out one more. One of my favourites, a veteran Hindi film and drama actor Naseeruddin Shah when asked what he thought was important about movies said that the things in reels served as archives and it was important they represent the time period and society and everything in it with honesty and truth for future reference and for generations to come or something to this effect. (I am bad at verbatim), Among the dramas I’ve watched, I thought Japanese and Taiwanese were more interesting than the Korean and Chinese dramas. Taiwanese dramas were fun and realistic (I am a sucker for anything realistic, no sci-fi or fantasy stuffs for me!), I found Korean dramas OTT and stretched, and Chinese Dramas strange and surprisingly unprogressive, and Japanese atleast cracked the code with the drama length! But I wonder if and how much these dramas are representing the real societies truthfully. I am curious about these things! No reason.

My favourite Korean drama is ‘What happened in Bali’. It is not without flaws but for whatever reason, it is unforgettable. The climax is awesome!  One day, I was on my way to a supermarket, you know walking and thinking about random stuffs. And suddenly the stuffs about this drama popped into my head out of nowhere. I was like “Wow! That was interesting!”. Talk about late reaction!

The Korean romantic dramas almost always have the same story, a rich boy and a poor girl or a rich girl and a poor boy. I feel like they are selling dreams to a certain class of people. When you are young, you are happy to live vicariously through these stories. But now as I get older, I refuse to be taken for a ride. In real life people rarely venture out of their circle or social strata. I think people are usually looking for someone as good as if not better than themselves. As good as oneself means one’s equal, is it not? I feel feeding Cinderella like fairy tales to people again and again and again does more harm than good and serve only to deflect them from reality. And don’t get me started on Chinese drama. I have a problem with the portrayal of females in the drama. A stinking rich guy comes along and the female has no problem being jerked around and treated as a doormat. Ugghh! Dramas like these make you realize what you do not want in your life.

It is very easy to wish for a miracle. More than you, if your loved ones are going through difficult times and if they are not able to catch a break and you are not in a position to help at present, would you take the easy way out? I mean get hitched to a person with means and money like in the dramas, to avail yourself of his help and suppose he is not bad to look at. I imagined this scenario (thank you over active imagination!) and my whole post was leading to this question. It wouldn’t be bad, right? But is it good? The situation will always have a lingering scent of Bargain, Mercinariness, Calculation, right? I was thinking about it today. It is just a hypothetical question. But it’s come to my psyche because I see so much of this theme in dramas and come to notice some of it in real life too. How will life shape up? I thought long and hard. I cannot say after consciously taking such a decision, a person cannot be happy. Most likely he/she would. Life is all about changes they say. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to take the high road disregarding the temptations, no matter the magnitude and stake and take chances on yourself and not extricate yourself. If I ever find myself in such a situation which I doubt I will (I have the most wonderful parents who do not let me do any kind of sacrifice) I wish… you know what I wish.

A Trip, a decision

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A little bit of an airhead (or maybe much), a very sheltered person who took most things seriously and when not serious, came up with ideas; some stupid, some naughty, some nice to carry out with friends. That was me! I had a group of friends that did most things together. Why am I getting nostalgic? Of those days when we used to laugh and laugh till our stomachs hurt and in between laughs told each other we’d live a long life because of course laughter was the best medicine and laughter increased life expectancy. Those school days when we used to be carefree and used our brains only to solve math problems and memorise stuffs. Those growing up years were years of obliviousness, ignorance, unawareness and so, of happiness!

No, no I am not complaining nor am I saying I was happy then and not happy now. If anything I am quite liking the process of knowing my own mind. This includes realising that though I think independence and freedom are most important to a person, I have been somewhat faint of heart and have always protected myself and been happy being safe and content. Like happiness and intellectual thinking were two mutually exclusive stuffs, I tend to not think about things on an intellectual level when I am happy and am unbothered, dare I say, like animals going on about their lives, grazing or doing what they do, devoid of consciousness and awareness. I hope to change this aspect of my life. Maybe I will go on a trip to an unknown place by myself. Of course, I don’t find it enjoyable to go to interesting places alone. Who do you share your observations or jokes with if you are alone? But if putting myself in unfamiliar and unsure surroundings and situations alone will help me be brave, strong and experienced. I am gonna go for it. So, watch this space.

Now, getting back to the main story, a few months back I decided to be impulsive and spontaneous and go to a temple on top of a mountain in a district neighbouring my hometown. This was before my epiphany so, I asked my little brother (who had much free time on his hands) to accompany me. It became a road trip for us (we took a motorbike, Bajaj Pulsar), a trip where we both didn’t know the way to our destination. We planned to set out in the morning and return by evening/night of the same day. But that didn’t go out as planned and the one day trip became a two day trip. The trip was everything; fun, excruating, regretful, enriching, you name it.

Things that happened on the trip
-I woke up very early, long before the alarm went off on both mornings. Talk about divine calling.

-We started our journey by descending down the hill on the spiral road and reached hewa river in no time. After crossing the hewa river bridge, the spiral road went up the hill. Soon, we were on the back part of the hill, the shady side. We were going through villages, whose names I had only heard of. My brother like many young boys is an avid biker. He loves speed. Since it was early in the morning and the cold wind was whacking us, I took out a warm scarf and wrapped it around his neck and wrapped a Kashmiri shawl around myself. But an extra helmet would have worked better on hindsight because I did get headaches.

We were going up and down the hills on the snake like road. I enjoyed the speed we were travelling at and the scenery of the hills but after a while the same sight of the humongous hills was monotonous. The big hills were vertigo inducing. I must have stayed too many years away from my home town that I, who have grown up among these hills was getting nauseous on seeing them so close.

-On the way, we got glimpse of the Kanchenjunga moutain range (pic above, which has the third highest mountain in the world) though afar and snowclad in its glory. When we reached the Kabeli river, we stopped to rest where my brother ordered tea for himself at a roadside restaurant. Guess there are only so many hours you can ride a bike before your body gets stiff especially your back and buttom.
 

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-We reached Taplejung and went though the town to the airport area. Beyond Sukhetar airport, the road was rough and full of rocks. And it got even worse as we went further. Where the rocky road ended the muddy road began and since it had rained the night before, the road was full of puddles of water which were like little swamps. In many places, the bike was in danger of getting swamped or skidding. Whenever the bike would get swamped, I would get off and my brother would navigate it out of the swamp. He indeed is an excellent biker.

-There are two bases (fedi); lower base and upper base before you reach the mountain top. We had planned to take the bike as far as lower base but the road was so bad we decided to leave it before that point and made our way on foot. Apparently, there were 2 paths, the long one going around the hill, and the shorcut up the hill. We took the shortcut but I found it very difficult to walk uphill. It took me forever to walk even a small distance. My brother unlike me walked fast and would wait for me. He was surprised to see me struggling and was worried because this was just the beginning of the road uphill. There was a small shop on the way so he ordered tea. And as we were waiting, he suddenly said “this will not do” . Because we had planned to return the same day, speed was of utmost importance and he asked me to wait there and he himself went back to get the bike. We were going to take it as far as we could after all.

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And I dozed off in a chair. It took my brother about an hour to get back with the bike. I had enjoyed a really good nap by that time and my headache was gone! Then, we were on our way again. From the lower base we had to make our way on foot.

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-It’s customary to not eat anything when you are going to a temple to pray. What we didn’t keep in mind was how difficult it was going to be to walk uphill for hours without energy. By afternoon we knew we had not even come halfway uphill and we will have to stay overnight! That was when we had the first meal of the day.

-Since winter had barely begun and It was still warm in my home town we decided to travel light. We didn’t heed the advice of my brother who had been to the temple before to take more warm clothes. I thought it was just few hours walk uphill and we could endure it. But yes, after we took a room in a hotel we wasted no time and got under our blankets. I didn’t even want to wake up and go down for dinner.

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-Going to a place in the Himalayas where the God lives was surely not gonna be easy, this is the great Himalayan trail after all. It turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but I had my little brother who was my messiah on this journey! It may have been hard but now I have some idea why people go on adventures. It was just a two day trip and I came back with blessings, experience, many stories to tell and memories, the best ones with my little brother.

-A picture is worth a thousand words. Some pictures taken by my brother, I didn’t care about taking pictures. I was just glad that I didn’t die of sheer exhaustion.
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Why I love imperfections…

I believe we are not supposed to find perfection. It surely is not easy to find!! It‘s like “Nirvana”. And life is more about imperfections. I read this quote somewhere a long time ago “Keep your expectations lower and you will never be disappointed”. At that time I didn’t know what it meant and wondered if that was even possible. We as human beings are greedy creatures; we aim for the highest, want the best…we are optimistic lot. Now I think I am beginning to understand what it means.

Perfection has a way of fizzling out. It disappoints people if and when they find it. All because it comes with expectations and it never turns out exactly like one expected. Imperfection on the other hand is more satisfying… first it is personal and then, it is not something shiny and polished but raw, ordinary and endearing.

They say “Journey is more important than the end”. If life is a journey, then perfection must be the end and nothing after that. But luckily we never do find perfection. It’s the genetic makeup of our species, that we are never satisfied. While striving to be perfect and satisfied, a man turns into a hungry beast…going from one kill to the next and searching for it in things he does; searching, enjoying, discarding…the cycle continues until he realises what he is doing is futile and that he doesn’t need it, the stuff which is like the apple of the garden of eden, a symbol, something to entice you.

I have realised good feelings like bad feelings do not last the way expectations and hope do. Like the time when you get a thing you have always wanted and it loses its appeal after some time. Or how one never forgets that one love who got away. I read a joke about a  married man somewhere saying “I have been in love with the same woman for 25 years. But please do not tell my wife”. How things you find perfect are anticlimactic. Bad things are bad but good things are never enough. Like when you are reading a great book and you are enjoying it but when you are finished with it, you are not satisfied. You are almost there (where you want to be) but you still want something more and you go on to the next. Or when you have had a delicious meal and your stomach is so full but you are missing something… And I do not mean the dessert! You are watching a good movie or a TV show, you are happy while watching it but when it ends you are confused and have that strange feeling and not because it has ended.

The void, the hunger remains! As long as you can feel and think, you are never satisfied! You cannot attain that perfection, bliss or happiness that you imagined on any terms. There is no such state for us ordinary beings. On contrary, good and beautiful things which should make you feel more superior and more happy rarely make a difference.

It must be ying and yang, the pull and the push of things. How we want something and do not want it the next moment. Is it that we are never going to find what we are looking for because it cannot be found? Perhaps that is why it makes sense to watch a movie and leave just before the ending, read a book and not gobble it up and like the imperfections all the way. It is more fulfilling…