Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Isha Gramotsavam

It is very hard to describe this event in an organized fashion because this event is a concoction of several individual event. In a way, it is a culmination of what Isha has done all these years.

  1. Celebrate Isha Fest

  2. Celebrate Gramotsavam

  3. Kick off Project Green Hands 2007

  4. Celebrate 25 years of Isha

The sore point of the entire event was the necessity to invite the CM. There is an unfortunate need to attract attention to an undertaking like PGH. We have already been discussing about what the media focuses on generally. However he himself was amazed by the magnitude of the event - because it takes quite some doing to organize something of this scale internally - especially when it does not involve religon or politics.

We went there on 22nd Sep 2007 (Saturday). Work was happenning round the clock right from Saturday morning till the function ended on Sunday evening. I worked very little (2 hours on Saturday night to help with creation of garlands for the dias). I knew several volunteers who worked through the night until the end of next day till the function ended. In fact, this was one of the aspects of the event that even lay people noticed and asked Sadhguru at the Satsang later.

Unfortunately, the Satsang had to be cut down by nearly an hour because our dear CM was late by the same time. Two events from the function remain etched in my head

  1. A questioner asked Sadhguru - "I see people working day and night in the roads for this function. What did you do to these people?" (work in the roads involved distribution of invitations to people, place hoardings at vantage points to inform people about the function)

  2. At the end of the Satsang, many eyes were wet with tears. People were dancing joyously for some strange reason you cannot point a finger at.

It was an unforgettable night. My hope is that, what got triggered in the form of PGH takes root (!) deeply to trigger more work and inspiration from people in this area.

If you missed it or did not have the opportunity to attend this function, check out the web link or buy the video package that would be released in a few weeks or do both!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum

Several movies have high adrenaline sequences. This movie runs on adrenaline! When the intermission was announced, I had to remark to my brother - "Already?" Some time back, there was a comparison between Jason Bourne and James Bond. This movie pushes the bar a little higher in favor of Jason Bourne. The cinematography, editing and the choreography are combined in the right mix to present everything to the viewer in a blinding fashion. Just enough to see, a bit more and frustration is bound to ensue (some people already are frustrated!).

Speaking from a more personal note, the movie is top-notch. It will be very disappointing when this series comes to an end - I presume there will be just one more. Unlike James Bond or Spiderman, you cannot keep dishing out Jason Bourne movies because the story line follows a thread.

I keep reminding myself not to fall in love with a fictional character!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tetris Blindness...

Watch the video below. Back in the earlier days (school, college), I used to be a computer game addict. Eventually, after hours of play-time, you become so accustomed to the game that you know where each door, barrel, switch is. It gets embedded in the reflexes. So much happens in parallel and you still handle the whole thing effortlessly - akin to driving a car, listening to music in parallel and chatting with your buddy by the side. Now-a-days I don't play games much, except for arcade stuff [ :) ]

I used to be pretty good at Tetris as well - my dad got a hand held Tetris game which I used to play for hours. Eventually after all levels were done, the whole thing would restart and there was nothing more to do with that game. In the video below, the blocks (there is a Tetris-speak keyword for that - I understand no true Tetris player will call them "blocks"!) start falling so rapidly but the player handles them effortlessly. Up until this point, we can argue for repeat-play expertise. As noted above, one becomes accustomed. But then, the blocks become invisible - and the guy (I am guessing!) still blows it away. It made me shudder! Just to think of the possibilities the human body and mind can reach when pushed beyond the limits!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Project Green Hands - 8th Sep 2007

We got together on Saturday again at Guna's house (the same volunteer whose name I couldn't remember earlier!). I was able to reach only by about 4PM, so I had missed a lot of action. Somehow, I have this knack of reaching there when the group is eating!

Prakash was the subject of a lot of taunts - primary taunter being Balaji. I am not sure if I am allowed to disclose the subject here. I will await permission from Prakash - Balaji at least :). He must have said the story to at least a hundred people I think. If the story comes on "Isha IT", I can easily link to the post!

There were many new people I had not met the previous week. I had just missed Savita and her cute little kids. I heard the kids were also involved in bagging sand! Again, I will need to wait for Prakash to publish the pictures - but I was able to view them on his mobile.

Myself and Radha started work at about 4:30PM - the rest of the gang joined after they finished lunch(!). Again, we worked till about 6:30PM where we had to leave when it became dark enough, but the others were working still. I am not sure when they completed work. The interim period was again an enjoyable period. Prakash was being taunted more by Balaji. We were also discussing the fact that when the soil is ready for plantation, earthworms inhabit the soil. We wondered where they came from. There is so much magic in how things happen in nature. While we were working with the soil, we were able to find live earthworms in there! There was a lot of competition on who got the earthworms to drop in the sandbags! While I was working, some bird took the opportunity to ease itself on my hand. This gave Radha a lot of glee. I told her, when she pointed a finger at some one else, three fingers pointed back at her. Yes - there were two much larger bird spots on her dress!

Meanwhile, some of the bags we had seeded last week had sprouted. Several others were yet to sprout. One volunteer mentioned that we would need to wait to see if they were not weeds (the soil also had several weed seeds which we had to exclude while bagging). Overall, it would probably be a few weeks before we see everything sprout. Balaji mentioned that these would be allowed to grow to four feet in the bags before they are sent off for plantation.

Foot note: At least two other volunteers (Pooja and one more) are planning to stay in Guna's house for a few weeks to assist with PGH work. The timing is perfect as her parents are leaving for the US for the same period! Radha volunteered as well! Looks like a case of too many in-house volunteers!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Random thoughts...

I recently read an article about a former model who was forced into situations where she had to beg for a living. Keep in mind that she is not 50 and modeling was during her heydays. She is just over thirty now and she was in the limelight just a couple of years back. Eckhart Tolle keeps saying that we live in an insane society. You never disagree with him, but the impact of what he says doesn't really sink in unless you read something like this. You inhabit the glossy pages of fashion mags one day and you are at the other extreme at a later point. I don't think this frenzy will stop until we realize that Life involves more than pleasure.

A related incident that is posted on the Isha blog - where the blogger has lamented on the fact that sensational incidents are given priority attention while something as magnificent as planting 700,000 trees on a single day sinks quietly into the dark. Kalamji mentioned the same thing during one of his speeches. Even reputed newspapers like "The Hindu" - which I hold in high esteem, gave front page coverage to the picture of the shooter in the Virginia shootout incident. The news coverage for the above news piece (700,000 trees) was somewhere in the middle of the newspaper (that was published on a different date). Our priorities as a society need to change if we are to collectively evolve as a species.

India vs England
When India was down 3-1 - Ravi Shastri says - "It's hard to see India recovering"
When India are level 3-3 - Ravi Shastri says - "The momentum is with India"
So much for "expert" opinion!

I read an interview of Silambarasan in Kumudham. (A confession - I was attracted to the interview from the headlines on the cover "nayanthAravai maRakka mudiyavillai" {"I cannot forget Nayanthara"} - it is so easy to fall into the gossip trap, especially knowing so well, the reputation of this magazine). Apparently Silambarasan is a hurt man for many reasons he confesses during the interview. But when it came to the section that was the frontpage headline - all he said was "whatever I say, you're going to write this - so let it be that way". He almost hit the nail on the head by capturing the psychology of the interviewers / magazine. And they happily took that to be his permission and did the exact same thing. Few things
- When some one is hurt, either help them by being supportive
- or just leave them alone
Using this as a means to gain some magazine circulation seems very cruel (if you want further proof - most of the pictures in the interview were from his movie stills where he kisses one or more actresses on the lips)
- One thing that baffles me is, knowing the magazine's nature so well, why did he agree to the interview in the first place?
(PS: I am not any fan of Silambarasan - just for the record!)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Project Green Hands - 2nd Sep 2007

About ten of us got together on Sunday (2nd Sep 2007) at a volunteer's house for PGH work. The work was to bag sand into about 1200 covers and seed the covers. For me, this was really an unplanned activity - I went there after being called by Prakash. It was production support day for me and I could afford this only because there was a backup for me. Fortunately, work held itself until all volunteering work was complete (!). Radha hopped in, so together we went to the volunteer's house. Her house was located deep inside Velachery, so finding the place took some time. Eventually, Prakash had to travel to where we were and got us there.

We reached there by about 3PM. All of them were ready to have food. Too bad, I had already eaten. All food was cooked by two people, with Balaji doing most of the cooking. That was a surprise - because it was a lot of food to cook - and he had cooked a surprisingly large amount of dishes in just two hours (rice, carrot, beetroot, sambar, rasam, mushroom masala and soup). Of course, all food was "Isha Style" - meaning pranic food. He did confuse us by saying - all food have one ingredient in common. After taking a stab at finding out what it was, none of us could figure it out. He added to the confusion by saying "they use it all the time at the ashram". Finally, we found out that the elusive ingredient was called "Love"!. That surprised me - that he should actually say this - this implied that he must have been conscious about this when cooking - it also evoked a lot of laughter. This was to be the subject of occasional jokes till end of the day. Unfortunately, I had eaten before I left home. I could eat only less. I didn't know lunch was part of the package :). We must thank the volunteer's parents (yes, I don't remember her name :-( ) for allowing Balaji and co to cook in their kitchen for so many people.

We went to work. We sat in two circles in the backyard, a lot of manured sand in the center, a lot of very small black plastic covers by our sides and started bagging sand. The covers had small holes by the sides - to allow excess water to seep out. The radio was on - songs + cricket score side by side. We started working getting to know each other. I had met none of them except Prakash and Radha before. Most of them were from "Isha IT"!

If you have volunteered with Isha, you would have noticed one aspect in all work you do. Work moves effortlessly! Some how, the group brings with it, a catalyst that turns mundane work in to a flow - a flowing rythm - that you realize only at the end. I think two hours must have passed - at the end, we had bagged about 1200 packets. (some bagging was complete even before we arrived). But area was divided to two sections - one with 750 bags and the other with 450 bags. The next task was to seed the bags. Intermittently, pictures were taken with mobile cams. I'll post the links once they become available.

Seeding was a joyous affair and was accompanied with a lot of "hoo"ing and clapping. The seeds were called "yAnai kuNdumani" (in tamil). I do not know the English name. Beleive it or not, after seeding, it started raining! It was a very symbolic ending to the kind of work we were doing. The rain evoked joyous shouts from many volunteers.

Finally, there was a sharing session! Mostly, all of them said how happy they were. Both for the kind of work they did during the day and for how they enjoyed the process itself. I realized this was true with me as well. One elusive art I am trying to put my finger on is to see how to bring this quality to my day-to-day Life. If things move effortlessly inside, no matter what the outside situation - this is the only goal that all of Isha's programs try to achieve for the common person. One volunteer was in tears at the end of her sharing.

Finally, we dropped a volunteer - Then mozhi close to her house. On the way, we listened to a Sadhguru Satsang in Tamil. We were really enjoying the blunt way in which he puts things ("...ungaLukku aRivu varalenna - entha buddhar vanthAlum oNNum Agathu...").

Situations permitting, hopefully, I should be able to go through another day like this!
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