UNPLUGGED DAYS

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A few years ago, we drove deep into the desert of Hatta. The sand dunes there are luminuous and beautifully astral. We had decided to spend the night, so after a  sumptuous Arabic meal, we found ourselves languidly sprawled under the starry sky. A friend was strumming his guitar and time shimmered like a mirage – palpable and truant at the same time. Moments like these call out to me more often now than ever before.

Of late, I’ve begun to get extremely claustrophobic. There’s a constant need to be out in the open, more precisely, in the lap of nature. The rapidity and uproar of the city is almost pandemonic. It could be some sort of seasonal affective disorder and I refrain from mentioning my restlessness to people around me. Instead I try to manipulate excursions on the pretext of this and that. Even then, my neurosis reveals itself by it’s absence as I sizeably open up the minute we approach the countryside. It’s a transformation that’s hard to miss.

A few days ago, my husband and I drove down to a fishing village about 15 kms outside city limits. The lanes were winding and suitably narrow. Brightly painted houses nestled closely in a disorderly manner, women seemed friendly and men bustled around in carelessly wrapped loin cloths. There was a lack of curiosity in their glances that put me at ease, like the warm but understated embrace of family welcoming you home. That evening, as I sat gazing out at the endlessly inspiring sea, I wondered if it was at all possible to feel displaced from a place one has never known.

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When we headed back home two days later, we were met with some disturbing news. Over 3,000 trees were about to face the axe soon to make way for the Metro car shed in my favourite Aarey Milk Colony. The city planners might have their reasons but I was devastated, to say the least. The Aarey area is one of the few green spots left in the otherwise concrete city of Mumbai and a place that’s always balm to my ravaged mind.

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On the supremely wide girth of these tree trunks are stories of storms weathered and solace gathered. I felt compelled to revisit the tales and hold them close one more time. So we made a trip and loitered around. It turned out to be a beautiful and adventurous day. We chatted up a local and milked out gossip, pretended to be film-makers and explored a film location, hugged tree trunks and discovered spots that we never knew existed. I saw the vast stretches of green wilderness and the expansive blue sky in the middle of a bustling city as analogous to the litter of monotonous moments in our usually busy lives. We fail to see that those are the very gaps that allow the sunlight to stream in and that it might do us good to stop trying too hard and just be. My jaunt through those verdant lanes that day made me nostalgic for the spartan picnics of my childhood. What happened to that rudimentary life?

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Our last expedition of the fortnight, turned out to be the Pagoda that I never get tired of. Just taking the ferry across the muddled waters makes me feel like I’m crossing over to another dimension. It was a stifflingly humid day, but nothing could take away the peace that enveloped me as I stretched out on the grass with the Buddha statue looming and chants resonating in the air. We’re always looking for upgrades in life, but sometimes it serves us well to feel the ground and appreciate the poetry in all of it.

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I relish unplugged days like these that vibrate with unadorned, acoustic sounds. They set the tone for a process of remembering and recovering our real selves. The arcadian charm of such idyllic paths and stolen moments prompt me to reevaluate how I spend my time, who and what I commit to and the why of everything.  The answers turn out to be pretty simple. Our life is whatever we make of it, the only thing mandatory is participation. But one thing is abundantly clear. It takes very little for life to be resplendent.

Here’s to nature that inspires us to grow simply and live a life less ostentatious.

 

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A LITTLE RANDOMNESS

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When I recently wrote about my rule of learning one new thing every year (you can read about that here: http://m.speakingtree.in/spiritual-articles/lifestyle/hey-aren-t-you-bored), a lot of people responded saying it inspired them to question their priorities and think about how they could do the same. It proves that we all have the desire to go beyond the mundane and experience our creative side. That’s where the passion lies.

Working hard and being ambitious is a good thing. But a little randomness is critical to your personal growth. Say hello to yourself every now and then. Go a little retrospective on yourself. When you are in touch with your inner self, you will gravitate towards things that interest you naturally. If something appeals to you, dig a little deeper. If it fascinates you enough, go ahead and try it.

Believe me, I was clueless myself.  Like most people, I did not even know what I wanted until much later in life.  Even when I did, I procrastinated. But one fine day, I woke up and decided that I did not want to feel like that anymore, or ever again. When I acknowledged who I was and what I was meant to do, it all fell together like a jigsaw puzzle.  The picture on the box was already there, all I had to do was pick up the pieces and fix them together. No one is going to fix you; you have to do it yourself. Sometimes one little step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.  It doesn’t really matter if you’re going at snail’s pace, as long as you don’t stop. There is so much beauty and creativity out there. It’s crazy not to enjoy it.

This whole minimalism and mind declutter idea too is just a way to make sure that the inspiration has enough room to settle in.  All I’m doing is giving it a shot. Try and do the same.  See what touches your soul.  Feed your creativity. You will be surprised where it takes you. You put yourself out there, you explore the outer world, and slowly but surely you end up discovering your inner world.  That is where you are supposed to be. That is your destination. That is where you will feel alive!  Let things play out the way they’re meant to be.

Recently I was rummaging through some old books and found an old, dog-eared copy of ‘The Thorn Birds’ by Colleen McCollough.  That book had mesmerized me when I first read it. I leafed through the yellowed pages and it was like living the tale all over again. That’s how I feel about life.  I want to pick it up, brush off the dust, iron out the ends and recreate the magic.