A return to origins

11 Feb

Recently, I have been thinking again about being a tourist in the city. As my time here draws to an end (hopefully!) I find there are many things I am yet to do in Calcutta. Things that are easier done as a resident than as a tourist. In no particular order, these include:

  • Attending an auction on Russel Street.
  • Joining a short course at the maritime institute near Millenium Park (I’ve crossed it many times but I cannot remember the name).
  • Visiting the Marble Palace (the name makes it sound all marble-y and palace-y, i.e. very boring, but the now dead owner was a mad collector of a mad mix of things, i.e. a man after my own heart).
  • Making one trip to either Darjeeling or PuriĀ from Calcutta.
  • Bishnupur antique market fair, Gangasagar.
  • A morning walk, an afternoon walk and an evening walk around Dhakuria Lake.
  • Once a month, pick an area within the city to get lost in.
  • Chinese New Year celebrations in China Town.

 

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8 Feb

A yogic way of living life is incompatible with blaming bad fortune (and praising good fortune?) to external circumstances. However, the power of one’s external environment is acknowledged, and one is exhorted to strive for an environment that is compatible with one’s goals, inner or outer. Between the external environment and inner resilience, spiritual protection and will power, it is the latter that is acknowledged to be the more powerful tool.

In materialist conceptualisations of the social and the political, the environment is seen to have the greater hand in guiding human fate. Human agency and endeavour is to be directed outward to re-arranging material society, which will ultimately lead to inner joy, satisfaction and meaningful life.

This distinction is somewhat crucial to my academic work and post-PhD life. Merits further concrete thinking. I need to know exactly where I stand on this and how far I want to push this distinction while reformulating my own politics and figuring out my working future. The overlaps between the two make it difficult to definitively make declarations.

A shoutout to the Inspiron 1525 circa 2008

8 Feb

I recently read an opinion piece by a technology expert that advised people to keep hard copies of all their digital data-writings, photographs, everything. Why? Because technology changes at such a rapid rate that there is a real risk that you could lose your data several times in one lifetime as the form in which you store everything WILL become obsolete every few years. You would still have it-your floppy disks, your CDs, your DVDs, your external hard disks-but there won’t be anything in the market that will allow you to read the data on it.

This technological obsolescence is a pain in the behind. I object to how frequently it happens, and because it happens for no good reason, as I see it. I have a Windows phone and I LOVE it! The User Interface is fantastic, it is more secure than android phones (when you download an app, it doesn’t ask for permission to access irrelevant things on your phone like your contacts, photographs etc.), stable etc etc. And yet Windows phones have been discontinued, meaning sooner or later I will have to say bye bye to my perfectly functional Lumia 535. Why were they discontinued? Because there wasn’t enough demand. Why didn’t people want Windows phones? One of the biggest reasons seemed to be the lesser variety of apps in the market (Android has a free for all thing going-anybody can upload an app in Google play store. Windows had a screening process of sorts I hear) and app developers not updating the Windows version of apps. The death of Windows phones did not come about because of poor design or performance, but because enough people did not take to it because app developers did not devote sufficient time to it because enough people did not use it. Kind of circular, that logic.

And again, Windows Vista. People panned it almost as soon as it came out; it was supposed to be far too heavy. My experience with it was fantastic and it remains my favourite version of Windows till date. Ofcourse, my laptop had a processor that was equal to it (a core 2 duo! 2Ghz!TXXXX top of the line in 2008!); running it on a dual core processor that I tried in a repair shop some months back was a different story. Windows has moved on, and now not one internet browser supports Vista any more. So my old spring green Inspiron 1525 (top of the line! 2008!) had to be retired ONLY because I can’t access the internet on it anymore or run an antivirus on it (no internet, no updates).

Which is a pity because my Inspiron 1525 still out performs many contemporary laptops. That machine came with one heck of a motherboard. Dell doesn’t do ’em like that any more. Nor do other companies building mid-range laptops. In terms of design, colour, PERFORMANCE and fancypantsness, it beats my present computer hollow (an older machine abandoned by my brother, which is several years newer than my 1525).

I switched on the Inspiron 1525 today after several months, full of trepidation, afraid that it would have died on me out of lack of use. But it sprang back to life as if I’d used it just yesterday, and booted in better time than my present laptop! That only amplified the regrets I already have about not being able to use it for all my needs. I mean! It had one of the last non-chicklet keyboards on laptops. I dislike chicklet keyboards, although I have no complaints about Chicklets themselves.

Technology, I don’t like you man. You change for the sake of change. Such a poser you are!

***Gets off the soapbox***

 

 

 

4 Feb

Calcutta’s volatile temper is a bit frightening. How quickly people come to blows and burn down vehicles. Road accidents are more of a tragedy than usual because the vehicle perceived to have caused the accident inevitably has its driver pulled out, beaten, and sometimes killed on the spot. Is it any wonder then that drivers of said vehicles attempt to flee?

How to comprehend this Calcutta living alongside the Calcutta where old people actually have space to loiter in the city, which has time to laugh and joke with strangers on buses, which enthusiastically patronisesĀ telebhaja stalls in the hottest of weathers? Which Calcutta is the real Calcutta? How to reconcile such opposites?

20 Jan

A question prompted by a quote read today morning:

(“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention”)

Is prayer an act?

So, 2018.

17 Jan

We are seventeen days into the new year and I sincerely hope it brings renewal, hope, determination and keep-on-keeping-on-ness to every single soul on the planet, and more specifically, to those who continue to read this blog. And gentle peace and happiness, too.

Image result for top cat gif

Ok, and maybe some madness too!

After my small success with the October-November experiment last year-where, for one month, I vowed to meditate twice a day for 15 minutes only*-I’m after some more goals this year.

1) I’d like to resume full practice of my meditation, including the energisation exercises that precede the actual sitting down part of it. Once a day will do, because:

2) I’d also like to resume the practice of Pranic Healing which I started learning in stages from 2011, without ever becoming a regular healer. Pranic healing is an energy healing system developed by Master Choa Kok Sui, and my family became acquainted with it more than two decades ago. One parent was a patient, the other learnt it so that it could be practiced at home, and we’ve been receiving healing from that parent ever since. It is powerful and effective in a manner that can only be understood by someone who has experienced it.

Pranic healing has played another very important role in my life; it kick-started the present phase in my spiritual life by giving me intellectual and experiential knowledge of the yogic system of inner and outer worlds, and bodies, and taught me how to meditate (even though I went on to practice a different system of meditation than the one they teach). For a long time I thought perhaps that was where its role in my life ended. I couldn’t find a way to actually practice the healing because I tended to get very, very anxious at the mere thought of it.

However, time’s up for anxiety! I’m approaching the re-introduction to Pranic Healing like I do my meditations; leave it up to the Divine Guide to do the actual healing, as I follow through with the motions. As long as the responsibility lies Up There, I won’t get nervous. I think!

3) Getting regular with the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra. The immediate motivation is the health of a family member, but I hope to keep with with the 108 times chanting, which takes about half an hour for me. This mantra was my experiential introduction to the power of mantras. A skeptic of anything canonically religious, I became a convert when I finally decided to try verbally chanting along with my Yoga class one day, some years ago. They begin the class with this one-

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And end with-

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Chanting it felt wonderful in a very physical way, like the words entered deep inside my back and resonated. It released energy and gave me peace. Since then, I’ve frequently started my meditations with the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra chanted thrice, followed by the Shanti Mantras, just as they chant it in Sivananda Yoga Centres.

4) Walks. Every late evening, after the crowds thin, for atleast 30 minutes. This one is motivated partially by health reasons and more so by vanity. Several months of eating out via food delivery services led to the necessity of buying what I call my fat pants. I need my fat pants to not fit me anymore, even with a belt! 30 minutes of regular walking might not be anywhere close to a heavy-duty workout, but perhaps combined with a diet of home-cooked food it will be enough for me to regain my regular levels of metabolism.

5) And oh yes, finish writing that dissertation!

 

 

 

*It led to more continuous twice daily meditations than I’ve ever had since I started meditating in 2012. Since the focus was regularity, I allowed myself to set aside my usual techniques and length of time spent on it.

Haircuts

9 Dec

Always a risky business. Step in to have an inch off and you’ll leave without six, as the jokes go.

I like to have fun with my hair. In the last three years I’ve worn my hair waist length, then chopped it off to a pixie, then grown it out into a bob, then shaved it all off and now I’m growing it out again. Growing out hair is a long process and the part that I’m beginning to dislike is the the once a year snipping process in order to bring some control to the follicular growth. Very few hairdressers are good with (women’s) short hair. I’ve been going to one person for ten years, and he started out by managing my hair quite well. This time though? He was a bit too trigger happy with the ‘thinning out’ scissors and I’ve come out looking like a boy. Sigh.