Tomtehuset: Santa's House--a special attraction during Christmas time
Welcome!! Swagat, Dumela, Valkommen, Jee Aayan Noo, Tashreef, Bula, Swasdee, Bienvenido, Tashi Delek. Thanks for joining me.....

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dyeing Silk

Thailand, 2012

Thailand, 2012

Dear Readers:  Its been busy, and to sit and think has been hard, since my day job requires me to read and write extensively.  So to catch up, there will be several images, that should have gone up a while ago anyway.  So the above pictures are from 2012, taken in Bangkok, Thailand.  I love the colours of Asia, but another thing that Asia is famous for is silk.  Here you see a man stirring the cauldron, that is used to dye silk. The natural color of silk is off white.  Often Khadi (handmade) silk in India or Tussar silk usually keeps the fine lumps of thread in the material to give it a raw look. In all other cases silk is smoothened to give a more shiny look, which is how it is often known outside of Asia.  Like Gold, Silk is both the produced and consumed in the largest amount in Asia. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sarve Santu Sukhinah: A Wish for the New Year

This prayer is one of the first we learn in schools and remains --till this date, one of my most favorite.  We memorize it by heart, and it awakens every time our heart beats in compassion. 

Om, Sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ
Sarve santu nirāmayāḥ
Sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu
Mā kashchit duḥkha bhāgbhavet
Oṁ Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ

Meaning in English

May all be prosperous and happy
May all be free from illness
May all see what is spiritually uplifting
May no one suffer
Om peace, peace, peace

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Aidan Chambers: A Brush with Celebrity

The following post was started in 2012, but as is life, I am just wrapping it up.  Just in time for some nice positive stories for the New Year.

I was talking to a friend/student and she asked me, 'So anything interesting happen?"

Well, no, nothing really.

Yeah, but you meet all these interesting people.  No one on the plane?

''Oh, yeah...I actually.'
She laughed, She knew.

Yeah, I was on my flight from London to Stockholm, and I sat next to this tall gentleman, and started chatting.

At first we only talked about what he was reading. ---P.G. Woodhouse----We talked generally about the weather and life in general.

Then I asked him what he did. 

In very simple terms, and very modestly he said, 'I am a writer'

Really? My eyes went wide.  

And then we talked about this work.  He writes novels for young adults, and has written in general on writing and education as well.

We talked about academic writing and he wrinkled his nose, ‘not my cup of tea’

Ofcourse I am interested in people and their stories.  So, I asked him how he got into writing, did he always want to be a writer, did he ever pursue any other profession.

He told me that he was a Catholic priest and as he grew he disconnected from his faith, it meant less and less because it was restricting to him.  I assume an imaginative mind cannot be put down.  Since I have had a personal issue with monotheistic religions, and absolutely disagree with the rigidity that is imposed by such thinking, I asked him about meditation and other practices in the church.  He stated that the point of meditation was not to meditate and to be free of thoughts, as it is in Asian traditions, where the aim is to go beyond duality (us and others) and find the divinity and vastness within, instead it was only to focus on the idea of divinity prescribed by the church.

I could understand many of the things he shared, from having read Joseph Campbell and other authors who talk about their monotheistic faith falling apart, as they expanded in consciousness. 

He spoke with as much love as anyone can imagine. He had no bitterness or pain as he spoke.  It was as if he was relating a story he had read.  When I realized that, I instantly felt that he had reached his nirvana.  He could not be bound by a limited idea of divinity, and may be that is what led him to delve into the hearts and minds of humans, and being compassionate. 

Why was he flying to Stockholm, I asked. Oh because I have to be at this university for a lecture….

‘Wow, that is where I work’

‘Really,’ he gave a gentle smile.

Yes, if its ok, I would love to attend the lecture.

Sure, it would be nice.

Soon as I got home, I googled him.  He is a well-published, well-read, well established, award winning novelist.  

I sat just being in awe of the fact that I had met and had a personal conversation with him. 

The next day I saw him in the hallway, and he talked to me like I was an old friend.  He held both my hands in his and said, ‘Did you arrive at home ok?¨

Yes, I nodded nervously. ‘I have some work to do, but I will be there for your lecture soon.’

Sure, you’re welcome.

I arrived there a little late for the lecture.  I had gotten a simple gift for him—a handmade folder I bought at an emporium in Delhi.  I thought I would give it to him towards the end of the lecture.

He discussed children’s literature.  The lecture was fascinating. And two years later, I still remember him discussing ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’  And that the shape of the moon in the book would even imply that the story takes places over several days, rather than one day, as many assume.

He was center of attention there, but I waited a while to find him alone so I could hand him that folder.  But he was never alone and I, for some reason felt that it may not be appropriate.  I could not step up to hand him the packet.  However, I did walk up, showed my face through several people who surrounded him, ‘Mr. Chambers, I am going to leave, I have a class shortly’

He again held my hand so warmly, ‘Thankyou for coming.

We exchanged one email after that. But I know that we are busy and emails can end up being trite, and that real relations and friendships happen only over a period of time.

But just meeting him had me feeling giddy for days.

In that short meeting I learnt much, and experienced the warmth of his person. 

At one point, when we were on the plane, I asked him, ‘Does decision making and making grown up decisions become easier with life?¨

He thought for a short while. 

‘I mean are we less concerned about taking wrong decisions as we get older?’

‘No’ he said with a big smile, and no remorse on his face.

He seemed to be in a good place in his life.

Same place I would like to be, when I am his age.