5

Vipassana – A Meditative Transformation

Vipassana – A Meditative transformation

Read the previous part Vipassana – The Sensations here

Day 6:

On sixth day the mind traversal was supposed to be done from tip of the head to the toe and then from toe to the tip of head.

I was starting to feel sensations all throughout my body now and many a times the energy would flow like a stream and would hardly have any resistance. The very moment I would love this feeling the stark grumpy baritone voice of Mr. Goenka would pronounce if you are enjoying the speed with which you are able to feel sensations and are able to traverse throughout the body that means you aren’t learning the technique.

He reminded the basic premise – not to enjoy anything – just observe, become aware, be mindful and maintain equanimity.

Day 7:

Focus was now on moving through multiple parts of the body simultaneously. For example – Earlier you were focusing on right arm and left arm one at a time now you were supposed to move through both the arms simultaneously. Continue doing so while moving from head to toe and toe to head. Just in case if you feel any of the part is left, comeback to it and try to concentrate on it individually.

By seventh I noticed that I was sleeping for more than three hours. In fact it didn’t feel like I require it more than that. In the mornings I was all refreshed inspite of less sleep. It was because my mind was getting calm and relaxed.

The critical part of sleep is to do physical and mental repair. By meditating for 11 hours a day for the past six days, the mental repair part was already done. Mr. Goenka even tells in one of the discourses that if you are practicing properly your subconscious mind is well rested and hence will require less sleep.

Photo by Mattia Faloretti on Unsplash

Day 8:

Eighth day you continue doing the same thing from the previous day but alternating between faster traversal and part-by-part movement from head to toe and toe to head. By now you would be able to pass through multiple organs together, even if you don’t feel it that is completely normal. The moments you feel it isn’t free flowing go back to doing part-by-part till the time you cover each part of the body.

I categorically remember during my morning session at 8:00 am I felt something burst internally right in the center of the chest. I felt it all throughout my body in a single go. It lasted for only a couple of seconds but it was so strong that I still remember it.

I discussed the same with the teacher in the afternoon, he told that is completely normal if you are practicing as per the instructions, but he cautioned me of not to be joyous about it and not to begin seeking it. Not every session is same. You might not get the same feel again ever. Some sessions are good compared to others but the learning was to be mindful of each and every one of them with the same perspective.

One more thing I noticed that I was beginning to feel no pain. I was able to sit through every session without any movement of any part. The urge to take a peek at the wall clock was also long gone.

Day 9:

The instructions in the morning session were to try to concentrate and observe sensations internally. If you were experiencing free-flow then you might be able to do internal scans. You could penetrate your body through your chest and exit from back or from left to right and right to left.

Try to control the mind and try different permutations and combinations. Then back again from head to toe and toe to head and then part-by-part.

The best news came during the discourse at the end of the day. Mr. Goenka informed everyone that we have successfully learnt Vipassana and it ends today. For the tenth he said we would be taught the third part of the ten-day Vipassana course. During the tenth we would be allowed to speak to each other…yeah you read it right we would be allowed to interact with each other.

All the dull mimosa pudica (Chui mui plant) faces immediately started glowing like morning sunflowers.

The Tranquil way

Day 10:

‘Mangal Maitri’ – was the last and third part of Vipassana. This day is also referred to as ‘Metta’ day. In the morning session Mr. Goenka teaches us how after learning Vipassana you are full of peace, compassion, love and kindness and why it is necessary that you don’t stop here and try to impart and spread it.

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t mean to get more people to sign up for the course. It simply meant at the energy level. Simply pray that there is peace, love and kindness throughout your neighborhood and the world.

After that session at around 11:00 am the ‘Noble Silence’ officially ended.

For the first time in my life I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I was too overwhelmed by the feeling of surviving the whole ten days.

Our belongings were returned post lunch on the same day.

I placed my first call to mom. Since birth this was the only time I had not spoken to mom for ten straight days.

Day 11:

After the early morning session and breakfast we were allowed to leave for our places.

I felt refreshed, calm and at peace. With renewed energy I headed home.

For all those who are calm,

For all those who are kind,

For all those who are at peace,

And,

For all those who have successfully completed Vipassana course…

It’s not a Goodbye,

but It’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

Advertisements
4

Vipassana – The Sensations

Vipassana – The Sensations

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Read the previous part – Vipassana – My Experience here

Mind is the most mischievous of them all. When one is trying to concentrate on a particular thing, it will get distracted and run away to every nook and corner of the world rather than focusing on the task at hand. I wasn’t able to focus on breathing for more than ten seconds in a go. I decided to discuss it with the instructor.

He told, “Its completely normal. People don’t get sensations at all; at least you are getting them for ten seconds. More importantly this technique isn’t about anticipating, just be aware about the present…what you can feel. Everything will come at it’s own pace.”

Day 3:

The focus on third day shifted to sensations on the moustache area – the rectangular area just above the upper lip and below the nostrils.

Sensation was defined as anything you felt like, an itch, perspiration, coolness, dryness, touch of air from breathing, heat and any physical impression you can feel. You were not supposed to create any liking or disliking for any of them. One had to become mindful and aware of them and let it pass.

By third day I realized that there wasn’t any particular need to over stuff oneself with food as the breakfasts and lunches were decent veg food, which was sufficiently nutritious to survive. On the previous two days because of over-eating I was feeling too sleepy and was barely managing through the meditation sessions.

I would slightly open an eye, watch everyone…many of them with an annoyed expression while some of them into deep meditation, keep checking the wall clock and wait for the sessions to get over.

Who would have thought that meditation can also cause sore legs, numb hips, strained back and pain at unmentionable places.

Main Meditation Hall at Pune Vipassana Center

Day 4:

We learnt about the technique of Vipassana. Earlier we were only focusing on breathing and sensations in the upper lip area but in Vipassana one is supposed to traverse the whole body. You are supposed to be mindful of the sensations on your head, face, ear, neck, shoulders, chest, back and so on.

Focus on one part of the body and try to feel the sensation there. Trying concentrating till the time you actually observe something but the trick is not to anticipate. If it happens then great otherwise witness it for a minute and then move on to next part of the body till each and every body part is covered. Come back to the part which was left and you didn’t feel any sensation.

Pain and numbness are also sensations and that was all I could observe. No matter how much Mr. Goenka voice told not to develop any aversions for any sensation; the human instinct would still take over. You would slightly move your cushion, sometimes remove the pillow, change the legs while sitting cross-legged, do everything but the pain would find its way and so would the aversion.

With each passing day more and more cushions were becoming blue and vacant. It was good enough to increase your self-doubt and derail your motivation.

Day 5:

On this day you would scan from the top of your head – the tip of your scalp and traverse through whole body, part by part but in a systematic order till you reach the tip of toe. Try to concentrate and become aware about sensations in this order, wait at the part of body where you aren’t feeling anything and then proceed. Remember not to create any aversion or craving for any sensation.

Then comes the session at 2:30 pm. The session of self-actualization as to what extent you could push yourself. I was just sitting but never knew that sitting alone can cause so much discomfort.

In this session you learn the art of ‘Adhisthana or Additthana’ – ‘Strong Self-Determination’. This means you aren’t supposed to move even slightly or shift your position or open your eyes. You need to continuously sit in a posture for long durations of 60-90 minutes.

It was really excruciating. I was sweating profusely with no sense of any part of my body at the end of it. It took me literally two minutes to unfold my legs and properly stand up.

Now I understood why most people ran away on the sixth day.

By the end of fifth day during the QA session I saw my roommate waiting for his turn to come. I feared the worse. I knew I wasn’t supposed to interact with him in any form but his mere presence was kind of encouraging for both of us to keep going till the end.

Day 6:

My roommate didn’t come for the early morning session. I knew something was amiss. I contacted a dhamma sevak, he told my roommate couldn’t take it anymore especially after yesterday’s Adhitthana session and he too ran away.

For a moment I was heartbroken. He made it till the sixth day and still went away. But then I read on the notice board – no aversion and no craving.

I headed for the next session.

For all those who can concentrate,

For all those who have aversions,

For all those who have cravings,

And

For all those who can control their mind…

It’s not a Goodbye,

but it’s a GOOD BYE.

Read the next post for day 6-10 – Vipassana – A Meditative Transformation here.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

6

Vipassana – My Experience

Vipassana – My Experience

Read the previous part – Vipassana – My Inhibitions here

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

I was still lost in my thoughts when a volunteer approached me and informed me to take a bed sheet, pillow and blanket from the shelf and head towards my room. (I was given a room number at the time of registration). He also informed about a small session that would take place, right after tea is served at 5:30 pm, in the meditation hall.

I noticed that the whole center was divided into two sections by a fence consisting of plants. To my disappointment there was completely different area for male and female including the dining area. The main meditation was the only place where both of them were allowed together. My dreams of somehow surviving these days by bird-watching (girl-watching) too were shattered and I wasn’t even allowed to scream…or cry…or run away.

Fence separating the two sections

I reached my room; it was pretty basic but neat and clean, and placed my luggage under the bed or the shelf that I was supposed to sleep on. It was a huge stone sheet with an old battered hard thin mattress on top of it. I was already exhausted from the travel and the constant battering of my mind. It was a depressing feeling and felt prison like. It was 3:00 pm and I made my bed and decided to take a nap.

From a small nap it got transformed into a deep slumber and I got up at 5:45 pm in a rush. To my surprise there was another guy sleeping on the other side of the room on another stone sheet. I was immediately pissed off at them for giving me a roommate for ten days and I am not even allowed to ask his name.

I shook him and signalled him the time. We hurriedly reached the mess where we were the last two guys to reach. Everybody had had his tea and left. To my happy surprise there was some husked rice (poha) along with tea. I knew there wasn’t going to be any dinner and hence I decided to hog on it.

At 6 pm the session began and it was in a presentation format. The discourse was to be in delivered in audio and video format. These were recordings of Late Mr. S. N. Goenka – the man responsible for bringing Vipassana back to India. The main thing that was highlighted was the five main precepts to observe and the timetable for the coming ten days.

My room in Pune Vipassana center

The Five precepts:

1. To abstain from killing any being,
2. To abstain from stealing,
3. To abstain from all sexual activity,
4. To abstain from telling lies,
5. To abstain from all intoxicants.

The very strict and difficult timetable – the school timetable felt nothing in comparison to this:

4:00 am            Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am    Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am    Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am    Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am   Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12 noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm    Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm    Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm    Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions
5:00-6:00 pm    Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm    Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm    Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm    Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm    Question time in the hall
9:30 pm            Retire to your own room–Lights out

That’s nearly 11 hours of meditation alone and people think that it’s a vacation or retreat. No it is not.

The ‘Noble Silence’ was to be observed from here on. It means the silence of body, speech and mind.

After the session I walked about in the open green space and then retired for the day. Walking was the only exercise that was permitted. I kept shifting and turning in that harsh bed and sleep decided not to pay me a visit that night and before I realized a huge gong like bell rang.

Day 1:

It was already 4:00 am and the time to get up and ready for the 4:30 am meditation session in the hall. I convinced my mind that it’s a new morning and I am here to learn something. All excited I reached the main meditation hall. The hall was filled with blue colored cushions properly spaced out, accompanied by a pillow with registration numbers on it. I found mine and adjusted my cushion and sat down.

There were about 120 students (I counted the cushions), two male instructors and one female. It was evident by looking at others that they barely managed it to the hall still half asleep and constantly yawning. There were three dhamma sevaks also – a dhamma sevak is a volunteer who helps the instructors and the students in case if anything of importance arises.

The course began. We were supposed to close our eyes throughout the process. The voice of Mr. Goenka soothed through the speakers. He told that the first three days would be all about ‘Anapanasati’ – ‘mindfulness of breathing’.

It was just about focusing on your breathing.

I was ecstatic to see the evening tea accompanied by a banana and some puffed rice. This was only made available for the first timers. I went in with the expectation that I would get none but here I was getting some.

The 7:00 pm discourse was a video played out on a projector. We saw Mr. Goenka for the first time. These were all recorded from his previous sessions before his demise in 2013. I was too tired and spent to focus on anything anymore. The only thing that caught my attention was, he mentioned, “Maximum people run away on the 2nd and 6th day.”

For some reason it made me more determined. I knew about the bets that would be already making rounds outside placed by my sister and cousins. I made a mental note of it to survive these two major days.

Day 2:

Same routine. Gong at 4 am…lethargic walk to the meditation hall and then the session begins.

The main focus on this day was on exhaling and inhaling. If someone doesn’t feel it, they can take a couple of deep breathes and then back to regular breathing. Just be mindful of the breath going in and out.

Everyday I would come up with stupid questions in my mind to put across to teachers and at least speak a word in the whole day but ironically all of them were answered at the end of the day during the discourse leaving me smiling and more importantly quiet.

At the end of second day the guys in my neighboring room went absconding – they simply ran away.

Day 3:

I ran away…

Naaahhhh…

For all those who are early risers,

For all those who love meditation,

For all those who can observe breathing,

and

For all those who knew I won’t run away…

It’s not a Goodbye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE.

Read the next one for Day 3-10 – Vipassana – The Sensations here.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

5

Vipassana – My Inhibitions


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

“What!! One can’t eat anything after lunch till the next morning’s breakfast”, I said shockingly.

“Yes”, my friend replied.

He had recently moved from Pune to Noida and was hosting a dinner for some of us. During the conversation he told me about his recent experience about a place in Pune, a meditation center, where he along with his whole batch was taken for a period of ten days.

Everybody who knows me and has read ‘Death on Karnataka Express’ is now aware, ‘that I am a big-time foodie’.

He said, “apart from this, one can’t even speak or make any eye contact with anyone for ten continuous days”.

“Were you able to do it?” I ask sheepishly.

“Obviously No! The whole batch was there and we would talk softly and share a giggle or two whenever we got an opportunity”, he said.

He was talking about Vipassana and this was the same meditation technique, which helped Gautama Buddha to attain enlightenment and finally Nirvana. The name of Buddha was enough to get me curious.

For a moment I thought how could one concentrate and meditate when all one would think of is food and on top of that one isn’t allowed to let go of his anguish. It seemed really cruel.

The conversation that night did sow the seed of Vipassana in my mind. I started researching and reading more and more about it. I decided that I would definitely give it a try irrespective of anything. I thought even if I don’t learn a single bit of meditation but still be able to control the urge to speak and try to deviate my mind off food that will be equally satisfying for me. It would turn out to be a step towards self-control and self-discipline.

I did register myself for the course once each in 2016 and 2017 but fate had other plans and it didn’t let me attend it. My father wasn’t too keen on me pursuing this though he strongly recommended daily meditation. He was aware of the chaos that I was going through both in my personal and professional life. I was getting angrier and irater day by day. He said meditation wouldn’t do wonders but it will definitely make you calmer and bring you peace.

My mom was simply worried how her son would manage without food.

My sister was sure that I would run away max by the third day.

My cousins even predicted that by the fifth day I would be sitting under a tree and addressing a small gathering and imparting my kind of ‘gyan’ (knowledge).

I was simply worried how will I remain quiet for ten straight days. My sister had previously challenged me to maintain silence and not utter a single word at least for a day and every time she came out teasingly triumphant.

In august of 2017, I lost my father and there was a lot of intricate clutter that I inherited. The things that followed made me more anxious, unstable, louder and angrier. By Feb 2018 my sugar levels were in the pre-diabetic zone complemented by high cholesterol levels. I was like an active volcano erupting at smallest of things.

I knew if things would continue to go like this they (family and friends) would definitely throw me into an asylum. I decided to take control of things and thought of giving Vipassana a determined try. Without telling anyone in March 2018 I registered for a ten-day course scheduled for July 2018 in Pune.

I carefully chose the location, though I was getting an available slot in my hometown. I wanted to be in a far off place so that the lure of running away didn’t tempt and in a pleasant place as summers in north India can be really excruciating and would have given me another reason to avoid it again.

I got a confirmation email about two weeks before from the date of start of the course. It carried all the information on what all I could carry along with me to the center and the code of conduct to be observed in those ten days and it was categorically mentioned to join only and only if you can strictly abide by them. The whole course including food and accommodation comes at a zero cost. Yeah! It is completely free. All I had to manage was my travel…my hunger and my tongue. I was supposed to reach there on 1st July by 2:00 pm.

I remember mom even tried to sneak in some biscuit packets just in case if I couldn’t control hunger in the night. I knew that for Vipassana to have its proper affect one should do it as told and hence I requested her not to do so.

Inside of Pune Vipassana Center

On 1st July right about 2:00 pm I was standing outside the gate of Pune Vipassana Meditation Center. The first thing, which took me by surprise, was, barbwire was mounted on all the boundary walls of the center. It elevated my nervousness level.

On entry, the registration counters were setup with some volunteers taking care of the formalities. All I could see was elderly people sitting and waiting for their turn to come up. I again doubted, ‘was I doing the right thing? Is it really for me?’

They asked for a print out of my form and ID when my turn came. Vipassana centers are run on donations and hence everybody working there was a volunteer and no employee. The guy at the counter tried to shake my confidence by asking, “Hope you have read the code of conduct and the conditions required to stay here. Remember we won’t let you run away in the middle of the course.”

I replied in a fake confident tone, “Yes, I have gone through everything and I am completely ready for the course”.

On the next counter they took away my mobile phone, wallet and all the jewellery and astrological rings. They reconfirmed with me whether I was carrying any reading and writing material.

I saw some younger people walking in. It brought a little smile to my face. After registration I sat on a chair and started contemplating about my decision because if I had to go away…this was the time.

Did I run away from there or in three days or five days or did I complete the whole journey? For that you have to read the next post…

To be continued…

For all those who are talkative,

For all those who can’t control their hunger,

For all those who are short tempered,

And

For all those who are willing to change…

It’s not a Goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Read the Previous post in the Vipassana series here: Under a TREE

Read the next post Vipassana – My Experience here

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

11

Under a TREE

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian BloggersTop post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

 

 

Some 25oo years ago…

It was a dark and treacherous night. The prince was feeling restless. Few hours had passed since he went to bed but sleep eluded him. He looked around and saw his beloved wife and infant son sleeping next to him peacefully. There was an intense turmoil that had taken birth in his heart and mind. It was a tough decision to make, in fact the most arduous and cruelest of decisions. Renouncing every worldly desire is daunting…but leaving the love of your life and your newborn takes it to another level. Scaling the Mount Everest would have seemed a child’s play in front of it.

He kept pondering for a few more hours. The mind was pushing him towards his goal but the heart was arrested by the love of two souls sleeping right next to him. He had already wasted many nights in this battle. He knew he had to fight alone and victory was his only option. He had to take a decision and the time was now.

The decision was made.

The morning was still far and there was no sign of daybreak. The Prince kissed his sleeping wife and son on their foreheads and got up from the bed and left the room without turning back for one final glance. He never came back.

He had experienced all the materialistic pleasures. Being the prince, the King made sure that the world was at his feet. He indulged into everything that was supposed to give him fun, happiness and gratifications. The King wanted to keep him always safely away from the harsh realities of life, from pain and from any kind of suffering. But the Prince was born no ordinary man. He was born to find a way for all mankind, the pathway…the key…the staircase to free themselves from the cycles of birth, death and rebirth…forever.

He was Siddhartha Gautama.

After leaving his kingdom and renouncing every desire, he started on his journey to seek the ultimate nature of reality, the truth of life and the meaning of every existence. There have always been debates about his teachings and the events of his life but no one can even guess what he would have gone through that night. Even if he wouldn’t have become the enlightened one, this surely was the first step towards it.

He went to many masters and teachers but after learning everything, he remained dissatisfied and unhappy. None of them could give answer to what he was seeking and quench his thirst. One day in his quest he sat under a tree near Bodhgaya by the Neranjana River and started meditating.

Photo by Liam Burnett-Blue on Unsplash

By now he had tried every external method possible and exhausted every meditation technique that was known to man then. He decided to concentrate internally. The only difference between a dead body and any living creature is the act of breathing. He started concentrating on his breathing and slowly he became calm and relaxed. He pursued his breathes and gradually became aware and mindful of every organ…every sensation and finally every cell.

It is believed that after six long years when the moment came when he saw the complete truth and attained enlightenment, he was able to see all his previous births and all the good and bad deeds he performed. He could see and observe and feel everything without attaching any perception of good or bad to them. He simply solved the key to free oneself of this cycle of life and death.

This meditation technique of observing breath and slowly becoming aware and mindful of every thing is known as Vipassana.

I personally believe the answer to the question; why we are born as humans and what makes us different from every other living organism is not related to superiority or anything else. Buddha answered it by attaining Nirvana. We get human birth so that we can try to achieve the state of freedom from the repeated cycles of life and death.

I also got an opportunity to experience and practice Vipassana the way Buddha did. The following post will be about how I got introduced to this technique and what affect it had on me.

To be continued…

For all those who believe in Buddha,

For all those who believe in Meditation,

For all those who believe in Karma,

And

For all those who believe Nirvana can be attained…

It’s not a Goodbye,

But It’s a GOOD BYE.

 

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

7

Insta Gita – Book Review

Cover page – Insta Gita

Insta Gita – Book review

Book: Insta Gita

Author: Nupur Maskara

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 74 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

For centuries the world has been intrigued by the Indian ancient text of ‘Bhagavad Gita’. It is one of the most translated scripts of Hindu mythology. ‘Bhagavad Gita’ literal translation means ‘the Song of God’ and it serves for both – literature and philosophy.

Every reader has since tried to translate the conversation and the context of Bhagavad Gita to the best of their abilities and understanding. It is a complex text aiming to give the simplest of meaningful messages and in the process has transformed into one of the greatest self-help books.

I have been always fascinated by the iconic image of ‘Krishna’ and ‘Arjuna’ in the middle of the war, where Krishna masterfully and patiently untangles the turmoil that had taken birth within Arjuna. I haven’t read Bhagavad Gita, and hence ‘Insta Gita’ was my first taste of what it is all about.

Nupur Maskara’s ‘Insta Gita’ is a modern rework of Bhagavad Gita in English poetry. She has intentionally kept it short and crisp and focused majorly on the part, which holds the utmost importance ignoring the paraphernalia that unnecessarily surrounds it.

The book begins where Arjuna decides to quit the battlefield confronting his beloved ones, friends, brothers and teachers; who form the majority of other side. He was caught in a tussle with his conscience about raising artillery against his own blood. The conversations between Krishna and Arjuna have been given a fresh outlook by Nupur in her poetry. Wherever she feels the milieu becomes arduous, she complements it with due rationalisation. Each page has some highlighted text, which signifies the theme of that chapter.

The three paths to salvation as emphasised by Krishna have been vividly discussed. The book gives Arjuna’s inner dilemma a new voice through poetry. An inner conflict that antagonises everyone during the journey called life. It also showcases how Krishna eloquently teaches the lesson of detachment and how not to expect anything when performing any action.

A page from Insta Gita

Use of ostentatious coloured background on alternating pages, with sketches and pictures depicting the theme of the chapter is very refreshing at the same time subtle and contemporary. Nupur has made the best use of the ‘ebook’ format because I am not sure the representation would have come like this if presented in a paperback format. I liked the title, which signifies ‘insta’ and equates to a readymade sachet of instant coffee.

The use of font could have been better. The current one doesn’t help in lending the seriousness attached to the subject and it doesn’t help the readability either. There was an error in numbering of the pages and an acknowledgement, which should have been in the beginning.

In today’s times when everybody is delivering content based on the number of characters at disposal and reading news consisting of 60 characters, Insta Gita is surely a must read for them. In its petite form also it delivers the main messages of Bhagavad Gita. With only 74 pages and tiny poems it is definitely a fast read. Its small and concise yet powerful and impactful.

I am going with three out of five for Nupur Maskara’s Insta Gita. It definitely packs a punch in its small ‘avatar’.

I want to express my gratitude towards all those who have been sending me the books to review from authors to publishers to marketing teams. I have just hopped on from a mystical thriller to a book on mental health and now one on Bhagavad Gita. It is a luxury in disguise, which only lucky ones can afford.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can download Insta Gita for free HERE

My Ebook is also listed for a Free download. Download the same here

6

A Tale of Malabari Chicken Curry and Two Tomatoes

A Tale of Malabari Chicken Curry and Two Tomatoes

‘Bhaiya it’s my birthday!!! Please make that special Malabari Chicken Curry for me na…Please’. My cousin was after my life. Ok…ok…don’t do this Emotional Attyachar…I’ll prepare it…but I am only doing this because it is your birthday.

I poured myself an extra large of ‘Kala Kutta’ (Black Dog) and took out the necessary two tomatoes from the fridge. He again started, “Bhaiya!! No one in your family consumes chicken…so how come this knowledge of ‘Malabari’ Chicken Curry…hmmm…bolo bolo.” He immediately sensed it that I was not at ease with this question. The best I could manage was a smile…emptied one (more) large in a single go and began…

Few years back…

‘Ladies and gentlemen! Our next performer is surely going to take your breath away. When she moves…even her eyes dance with expression…and please get hold of an armor…as her smile is for sure going to stab your heart and take your life away ;). Please put your hands together for our very own Malabari Tomato’, the anchor announced. Actually, I was the one who gave her that name as every time I looked at a tomato…they always reminded me of her pink chubby cheeks. (Sorry can’t mention her real name)

He disappeared behind the curtains. Slowly the lights faded…the huge maroon curtains, which were hiding her from me, sluggishly began to move apart. She didn’t have a clue that I was a part of the audience…not even to this day. Several spotlights began to bathe her in various colors. It was a scintillating sight.

The music reached our ears…it was a malayali song and my Malayalam being so awesome that apart from that I could not make out what a single word meant. Some other guests told me that it was a mallu song…otherwise I didn’t have a clue 😉 . She was at her graceful…stunning best in a blue sari. She had this uncanny ability of carrying off a sari from her school farewell days. On those particular days…elegance…poise and grace became her best buddies (read biggest virtues). She was the one who in stored my faith in the fact that a girl can look her superlative in a sari too with the perfect spice up of seduction.

She commenced. Her moves…her dance…made it appear as if she was effortlessly floating like a mermaid. She was glittering more than all the jewelry she wore…but it was her big brown eyes that outshone every jewel. Every time she smiled…it gave an instant kick…with a high that lasted longer than any intoxicants. It was literally impossible for me to take my eyes off her…actually no one was able to. That very instance a thought whispered to me. If ever I am going with a dancing partner…she should be her, if ever I am going to marry anyone…she should be her and if ever I am going to love anyone…she should be HER. My heart without informing anyone…even me…was now already in love with her. But I could never muster the courage to let her know how much I loved her pure soul…that had the innocence of a nine year old and maturity of someone way beyond her ages. To add up to my woes, I knew she was already in love with someone else. He being a mallu…I gave myself no chance and hence never confessed my love to her. I was just content cherishing the friendship that we had.

Dancing Tomato

Dancing Tomato

Years flew…

By now, she had a blog…sorry two blogs. One was dedicated to her cooking and the other – for her real self. I feel that these days’ urban girls are more of a food blogger and less of a cook (no offence to anyone). There was no chance in hell that I was not following her on them, as it became the only medium to get to know about her after college. She was like that old coffee addiction…no matter how many times you have had it…the addiction never fades away…and yeah…I was addicted to her.

One day She wrote a poem…a real heartbreaking one…a rare tearjerker even for the Joker. I immediately guessed it what the reason could be. But me being I…again was ditched by confidence and courage to man up myself and walk up to her and let her know that I have always loved her and I am always there for her in any and every sense she wishes me to be.

A year later…

The moment my flight landed…I switched on my mobile phone and messaged her, ‘I am in your city’. I literally had to dig deepest inside me to find this much mettle and character to make this day actually happen. I had to meet her…I had to tell her how much I care for her…how much I love her…how much I need her…before its too late.

Two hours later I was standing outside her home. I rang the doorbell. From behind the door I was very easily able to make out her childish squeaky voice. ‘Who’s there’, she shouted. With no response…she opened the door. For seconds she wasn’t able to recognize me as in these years, I had gone from a Hrithik Roshan (Hair wise) to a Anupam Kher. She was taken aback…the moment she realized…or I should say…she recognized me. Fighting hard with her emotions and trying to resist her tears…she finally gave in…and gave me the warmest hug ever. Time did not have any effect on her eyes…on her cheeks…on her hair…on her fragrance…on her smile…even on her mallu accent…every thing was just the same. For me… time simply stood still

After catching up with some college ‘gupshup’ and what she was up to these days…she immediately remembered that she hasn’t served me anything. She forced me to have lunch and then go back. She even tempted me by saying that she was going to prepare my favorite malabari chicken curry, which she always got for me during college days. I questioned her, ‘How come the recipe for this is not on your blog?’It’s a secret recipe which has been passed on for generations in our family’, she replied. I pleaded her to share it with me…and to my surprise she agreed today. She gave me two tomatoes of average sizes and told me that to get that perfect taste one needs to put two tomatoes of these sizes.

The moment I took the bite…the years started rolling back…tears started finding their way from my eyes to cheeks and to the plate. I confessed why I was there…and what I felt for her over the years with utmost honesty. She simply smiled through her moist eyes and said I knew this all along…but I guess it’s too late. Her eyes guided me to her marriage portrait on the wall at the bottom of which was inscribed, ‘who needs a prince charming when I am already married to a soldier’. I looked back at her…couldn’t swallow any more bite…the lump in my throat was eating me from inside. I was trying desperately hard to hide behind a teary smile…my stupidity…of not noticing that portrait the moment I entered that room. I was too mesmerized to be in her presence that for a moment forgot a world still existed outside this room.

She moved close to me…way too close…held my face in her hands…trying to wipe off the salt water at the same time. She said ‘Hold me…close to you’. She leant forward…our tears met…our eyes met…our lips met…and we met. She shattered me back to reality…before my hands could ignite anything in her, by saying, ‘I am a loyal wife’. My already broken pieces of heart were now further broken…

Life again made a mockery of me…Destiny again was laughing at me…God again was playing with me…and the joker again was smiling through me…

Every night just wanted to sit next to her…be invisible (if given a special power) and see her type the chats…see her expressions…see her big eyes move more than her lips…remove those strands of hair which disturbed her while she worked…listen to her endless talks in her childish malabari accent…sleep with her head on my chest. The next mornings prepare for her, her favorite coffee before she gets up…give her a forehead kiss before I leave for work everyday…and simply be a part, however small it may be, of her life for the rest of my lifetime.

Today when I miss her…I pour myself endless pegs while I m cooking the same Malabari chicken curry with two tomatoes. Read her blogs…look at her graceful saree pics…her eyes…her smile…her hair…mixing the salt on my cheeks with the bitterness in my mouth…till I the time I start seeing her…and…simply go numb.

For all those who love to dance,

For all those who love tomatoes,

For all those who love Malabari chicken curry,

For all those whose love is still hidden in them,

For all those who have confessed it to their love,

And

For all those who still go numb…

Its not a GoodBye…
But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han…this one is purely fictional 😉

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul