Saturday, February 10, 2007

Twilight Zone (Part 1)

I met Twilight Fairy in her backyard on my recent trip to Delhi. Fairy is hairy. Really. But not in a bad way…allow me to explain. She had warned me about the length of her hair…but I was still not prepared. When she let her hair loose in slow motion (after much cajoling)…they fell…like apni ganga from Shiva’s head…and kept falling!...still in slow motion of course. I thought after reaching her shapely buttocks that this is it…but no! they unfolded some more and went on…majestically bouncing on and on...!!! Wow…it was as if watching a shikhakai ad. I felt humbled…especially after ghumaoing a nervous hand over my chand sa head.

Ahem…that scene..err…still evokes some hormonies…eeeshh…memories.

Now you will ask where did all this happen. Of course, in beautiful Delhi. She had invited me for a Delhi Blogger’s Meet, because you know…I was in Delhi for the sole purpose of finding a bride…and was a blogger…and wanted to meet as many kudi’s I could. Since my girl hunting wasn’t going on according to my well laid out fantasy, I was hoping to score big time in this meet.

But alas, of all the hundreds of bloggers in Delhi…only the male species decided to attend…and I am sure…for very similar reasons as mine. So you can imagine, we all had a similar disappointed glum look on our faces and the only bright spot amongst us (other than my head of course)…was the beautiful almost angelic fairy (actually…anyone would have looked angelic standing in our group…see photo for proof).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Stalkathon

I have a history of stalking...yes, I am a self-confessed criminal. I have practiced this patient art since I was in the 6th standard. I should have been a detective...or a pocket-maar...but wot to do...jab kismat ho pandu to kya karega Yogu. Laal Tel Paree. Yes...that was her sixth standard heart-throb. Baap re baap...she used to wear those pig-tail types chotee with red ribbons and all. But me was total fida on her...her bonafide or not. I used to dream about her even when I was staring straight at her...I was so smitten.

My feeble brain had no idea what to do in this situation as I was way ahead...hormonically speaking...from the rest of the half-pant-waali junta in my class. My friends were no use as they thought that all girls were a waste of time. One of them still does...but we now call him Gay-jendar...and he is not my bottom-slapping friend anymore.

So highly advanced Phantom-comics influenced intellect decided that in situations like these...where you don't have enough guts to approach a particular stalk them...hunt them down...subdue them...and then scratch your costume and plot the next course of action. Old Jungle Saying. So I started earnestly with step one...and decided to trail my superhero costume being my school uniform.

The good thing about Red-Ribbons was that she did not take a bus or rick-shaw or elephant from school...but walked back to her home...which I guessed was somewhere near the school. I realized that it was a lucky break and I should make full use of this fact. I did not take the bus home one day and sent a message through my conductor that I would be staying at a friends place and will come home later in the afternoon. I had smartly calculated how much time it would take me to reach home after this detour.

As school left...I spotted my victim walking with determination towards her goal. I followed at least 15-people spaces behind...quickening my pace as she marched on. She continued...and I relentlessly pursued. The blazing hot noon sun was out...and Bombay's humidity was gushing out of my pores. The incessant mid-day honking and dodging other vehicles on the road wasn't making the job any easier. But I did not give up...I stuck to her like chewing-gum in hair.

We passed the place where I hoped she lived...but she continued. We passed my favourite juice-stall...she still continued. We passed the haunted house on the narrow street...and yet she continued. We even passed the aromatic dye factory...she didn't even stop for a quick sniff...but just breezed on. By this time..we had come quite far from the school and I was wheezing and panting like an old man just trying to keep up with PT Usha. But she showed no signs of slowing up...and maintained a constant speed which was getting way beyond my grasp. Where the hell did she live!!??!! We were now well into the territory where school buses were required...well...required at least by all sane people.

Finally...I saw her slow down...thank the constellations!!! I thought my hard tiring work was about to pay off...when suddenly...she stopped and looked behind. I froze like the Statue Of Liberty wishing to be invisible at that moment...but I guess she was just checking the traffic behind as she deftly crossed the road in the twinkling of an eye. I gathered my remains and scrambled after her...still profusely sweating and huffing. I saw her figure disappear into an area called Liberty Garden...which was completely unknown to me. I entered the area and stopped...the road was straight ahead and I could see her easily...while she kept on going and going like an energizer bunny...further and further away!!! Holy Moonlighting!!! That was it!...I decided in desperate girl however oily was worth this much effort! Tired and defeated...I flagged down a rickshaw and was off to my place. I looked behind...and she was still walking!!!

The next day during assembly...I saw her come in...walking again...without a single drop of sweat on her forehead...and without any heavy breathing. She's gotta be an alien I mused... when suddenly my new house captain Preeti Cutie pulled me out of the assembly line for wearing white shoes to school. She wore yellow ribbons with no oil...and yellow was suddenly my favourite colour...and Parachute my most hated hair-oil.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Smile

I just remembered a real life incident after reading Alpha baby's latest post. This happened when I was in my third year of enggi...I was known to belong to the "TE" class. The order being "FE", "SE", "TE", "BE". Anyway, we had a small Mata ka temple up the only hill in the village called Lone-Tech (the local name being Lon Tekdi). The temple had been recently renovated and they cut up the hill to build these huge stairs going up to it. The bottom of the stairs became like our favourite hang-out place as we could ogle at all the women going up and down...yes, even paan-spitting village belles (wot to do...we were desperate).

Anyway, one beautiful evening, 5 of us TE guys sat at our usual place to begin the evening ritual. One FE guy passed by us and I just scowled at him making him run faster to mother Kali (our group had quite a rep). But the poor guy was caught by a group of 3 to 4 SE girls further up the stairs ...and one of them, was pretty vocal.

Khadoos Girl: Oye!
FE Kid: Yes..........?
Khadoos: Kyun bey, idhar ghoor ghoor ke kya dekh raha tha??!!? Bhagwan ki puja karne aaya hai ya ladkiyon pe line maarne??
FE Kid: (realizing they were seniors and getting nervous and lowering his eyes...) sorry ma'am...galtee ho gayee.
Khadoos: (turning around to face her hommies and exclaiming...) saala he is admitting!!! i to was just pulling his leg....
Khadoos: (turning around and suddenly assuming an even more menacing pose...)...sun munne...yeh baat yaad rakh...aage se koi bhee senior ladkee dikhee...aur teri nazar agar tere joote se thodi bhee upar achaa nahin ho ga. samjha?!?...samjha?!?...abey samjha ki nahin!!??!! ...zor se bol..!
FE Kid: (nervously shivering and trying to burrow his chin into his neck....)...sss..ssoo...ssoorry ma' sorry...nahin hho ga...aage se....
Khadoos: Chal ....ab apna manhoos chehra yahan se lekar nikal ja....chal bhaag!!
FE Kid: (about turn and bolt!...down the stairs towards us....)

Now we were really tough raggers during our time....but this was horrendous!! Humaari aankh ke saamne ...that girl just ripped apart this poor of our kind! And seniors ka kuch lihaaz nahin! We were offended...male ego bursting on its seam...I called out to the FE guy while he was rolling and tumbling down the stairs in an attempt to escape from the clutches of this daiyan...

Me: Abey ruk!!!
FE Kid: (...still tumbling as he looked up and let out a gasp!)
Me: ...idhar aa!...
FE Kid: (...screeeching to a mid-stair halt and balancing himself with his arms circling wide....)
FE Kid: ...(..still balancing but facing me now..)
Me: need to fear me...i heard all that the bitch said to u...we are going to set her one thing...go back up and tell her that i want to meet her...NOW....and then go and complete ur darshan in the temple...
FE Kid: (blankly looking at me as if i had poked him in the ass...and for a minute i thought i was talking to a penguin...)
Me: Hullo...kya hua? Abey na-mard...jaa ke abhi usko neeche bula!!! GO!!! NOW!!!
FE Kid: (...bolting back up the stairs and panting as he conveyed my message to Khadoos...)

I saw Khadoos looking in my direction...turning around to converse in whispers with her friends...and turning back to issue a crisp verbal command to the Kid which saw him rocketing up towards the temple! She then started climbing down nimbly towards our group with her head gracefully lowered.

As she came closer...I noticed that she wasn't all that bad fact...under other circumstances...i would have actually called her cute. As she approached closer...I sat down on the short wall lining the stairs with my buds standing around me...acting tough and looking like we meant business. They also kept uttering these useless .."we'll show her"..."wot does she think"..."show her her auks (short for aukaad)"..."bloody SE"...disturbing. I told them to shut up as she approached.

Cute Khadoos: (facing me...)..Yes sir?..(...looking straight into my eyes...)..did u call for me?
Me: (...thinking ...Holy Mother of Jesus Christ!!! u've got some dishy eyes on u girl!!...:))
Me: (desperately looking around for some support from my hommies...but all i saw were a bunch of bloody zombic idiots ...glaring at her with their eyes wide open and mouths agape with shock!!!...she was pretty...)
Cute Khadoos: Yes?...(...dark innocent eyes imploring...looking straight at me..)
Me:...(fumbling for right words...any words...she was too pretty...) ...WE ...overhead ur conversation with that FE kid ....and...and we just wanted to point out that its not right....i mean...yes...u can rag...its right to rag...but...(looking around for help once more but changing my mind quickly after seeing my dumbos begin drooling...) shouldn't be so rude....u know...i mean ...when we rag our juniors...we are gentle...u know...hehehe (nervous laugh...)...u really scared the ...u know...out of the little
Cute Khadoos: (...listning intently...and giving a ...) *shy beautiful smile* ...(..uff!!!..)
All of us: (...going WHOA!!!...what a smile!!! )
Cute Khadoos: ...sorry sir...i'll try to be gentle next time...*shy beautiful smile*
All of us: (...WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!...)
Me: (...recovering hazily...) was all...we just wanted to convey this...hehehe (nervous laughter)...ok then..happy u..sometimes....around here...somewhere...tata...ok...
Cute Khadoos: (..looking at each and every one of us and smiling and thanking...)...Bye...

Needless to say...we felt collectively moronic after the entire episode and as for the FE kid...I didn't see him anywhere at all after that incident. God rest his poor soul.

The Girl Next Door - 2

Ok, for all u gals out there hooting for Clueless...there is some good news. I met her last night....yes,...I am a horrible person. I went there to check her out after hearing so much from Ragz. So I pretended to be Ragz's cool friend who is a pc expert. But lo!...the minute I met her all sorts of good pure brotherly feelings engulfed my blood stream!!! I don't know if its the way she looked..her age..or just the way she moved around or spoke..but I am pretty sure she was my kid sister in some pichla janam. And her pc is one big messed up piece of crap (she's had it since 98)... totally beyond even NASA scientists..(I tried kicking it hard too...that usually fixes any appliances i am used to). And after we found out that she was in a tornado storm recently without a surge protector....we tried to prepare her mentally into buying a new one soon.

Me and Ragz: (looking remorsefully at her pc)...tsk tsk tsk...
Totally Clueless: so u guys speak gujrati???
Me: (looking blank for a second and thinking... do we look like gujratis?)
Ragz: (looking blank for more than a minute and thinking... damn! i thought she was north indian!)
Totally Clueless: (still waiting for her answer....)
Me: speak Hindi...and Ragz here speaks too. its our national language u know.
Totally Clueless: (cheerfully...) oh ..i can speak gujrati very well..!

This went on for a while till we thought she is now going to start practicing her gujrati on us (yes..even after our repeated denials)..and thats when we decided to hurry out of her apartment. We got the junk pc with us to work today...lets see what our experts come up with. And oh yes, the good news now is that because of the "Bhaiya" angle.., I am now as comitted as Ragz to get her pc fixed..or if not that then get her a good deal on a new one.....or we'll have to hear from gujrati.


The Girl Next Door - 1

Life is funny. Seriously. Ragz has been trying to avoid girls all his life (he is an RSS member wanna be Brahmachari)...and now, this hot new ABCD chick lands up right next to his apartment. Which is fine..Ragz has kinda perfected the act of keeping to himself..but she came up to him to request assistance in "computer related" matters. Her pc is not rebooting. And if thats not all, she asked him if she can come over to his place and check her email from time to time (till he fixes her computer). Now please, we all may be "software professionals"..but when it comes to fixing computers for someone...its like pulling out ur own teeth! As for Ragz, his libidal hormones have suddenly awoken after having given up on their master... who they had thought would never really have any use for them. So after ignition, his first instinct was to rush to WalMart, get a duplicate key of his apartment made, insert it in a gold chain and present it to Ms Clueless in a diamond box. I am glad he called me before he embarked on his adventure. We (all at work) have advised him not to even attempt to fix her computer till Friday...and just use a lot of computer jargaon in front of her to show that he knows a lot about these things. Here are few ideas from the group..

Ragz: Oh shoot! (appearing seriously dejected)
Clueless: Is it that bad?
Ragz: If it were a Unix system..u would have been accessing online HTML ASP pages written in .NET by now.
Clueless: so....?.
Ragz: (shaking his head looking at the monitor) u have a Windows 2000 OS which is known to have rebootable bugs. My company is sending me for training on that next week...after that I can probably download the latest patch from microsofts online website and try to force a reinstall of the Operating System again. we might also have to change the harddrive...its making too much noise.
Clueless: Oh dear....
Ragz: (looking up and flashing his freshly brushed teeth) don't worry...the problem is solvable. if nothing else works....we can always boot the hardrive. i have done that a lot for Apple 77STX MacIntosh and Unix Sun Solaris 6000 machines.
Clueless: (sighing with audible relief) thanks ...thanks ...Ragz!! i owe u big time! (dishing out her most lovely smile)...
Ragz: (crumbling under the smile onslaught and blushing profusely)...oh hehe..this is nothing...this is just my left hand work...

Ahem.., this is just one of the scripts we have prepared for Ragz. I can't possibly include all. We'll find out tomorrow how he fared. Good luck Ragz...and Clueless.

The Closure

I attended a Memorial Service for the first time ever last weekend. I had always thought that Memorial Services and funerals were the same thing...but they are different...kind of like a reception after the wedding...(ok..thats a very bad analogy but its Monday morning dammit!). I am one of those ppl who usually keep grinning at funerals or cremations for some inexplicable reason. I don't find it funny...I just can't stop grinning. I know...I am a total nutcase. So you can understand my apprehensions when my American Swami asked me to accompany him to this Memorial Service in honour of Greg's (his good friend) mother Marie, who was a 3 time cancer survivor and had died at the age of 84. Swami moves around in a very eclectic circle.., so it was no surprise that Greg was a greek american who grew up in hawaii and followed a Native American Tradition while his mother Marie had been a practicing Buddhist. Swami was conducting the we had Hindu chants mixed with zen wisdom, Native American singing by Greg and his friends, cedar and incense burning, flower offering, stories being read out from the Bible and quotes from the Dalai Lama. It was a very emotionally moving experience and everyone who knew Marie were sharing how strong she much joy she had brought to them with her special brand of grandmotherly love. There were stories about her strength and wisdom, her love and caring and I was simply amazed at the influence this fraile lady had in the lives of so many people. This was not a sad affair at was a celebration of a life very well lived and well spent. I was moved to tears by that simple fact. Here I was...just an interested spectator who did not even know this grand lady..singing praises of the divine with tears in my eyes. In the end.. each one of us were invited to offer flowers and lighted cedar Marie's altar..and wish her good bye in our own personal way. Her son Greg..came in last ...and offered his good byes. I was so taken in by the whole atmosphere that I just froze while I witnessed this very sacred act.....a closure....a final farewell by a son to his mother.

I went there afraid that I'll make a fool of myself by smiling and grinning...but came out sniffing and wiping my tears. Goodbye Marie...and thank you.

Valentine’s Day – Feb, 14th 1990 (Age 15 years)

It was an unusually chilly morning for Bombay. I woke up real early (around 4:00 AM) to write a poem for her. I had bought the small wallet sized blank card the evening before and I was honestly marveling at my stupidity. Such a tiny card? How the hell am I gonna fit even two lines into that? She might not even see this on her desk! Wah Wah…tussee great ho Yoguji.

But after a while…when the panic subsided (and the calm mind reminded me of people fitting the Koran on a grain of rice)…I decided to write the poem.

But what do I write? OK…what was the one thing about her that really spoke to me…the one thing that came to my mind every single time I thought of her?…the answer came right back!…her legs. Seriously man, that girl had the most gorgeous pair of legs ever! There was no way I was going to write a poem on her legs though…I was 15…not suicidal or crazy. So what next? Her voice. Yes. Now that was more like it. I loved her voice…strong, clear, crisp and precise! Hmmm…err…that sounds a bit like a soft drink ad. Just imagine Rekha’s voice. It was similar to that.

I obviously don’t remember the lines I wrote 15 years back…but they were something to this effect.

I saw your face, and I was impressed.
I sat behind you, ‘coz of the way you dressed.
Then I heard your voice…and I felt…blessed.
Yadee yadee yaada…

I think there was some mention of her hair too in that but I really have no recollection. I showered quickly, drenched myself in some cologne and ran out to catch the 5:22 local.

We both attended the same private classes and so far, I had not spoken to her even once! I was hoping that today, being V Day and all, would be a good day to break the ice. As I was entering the building, I spotted the phoolwale ki tapri which was closed at that unearthly hour. Like a true romantic, I ended up inside the tapri hoping to find a free rose or some other leftover flower. But all I could salvage were a bunch of decaying roses. Suddenly…a bulb chamkofied somewhere in my cloudy mind and I furiously started plucking out all the non-sadofyed petals. I then carefully stuffed them in the tiny envelope. So that way, I reasoned, when she opens the card…the effect will be magical! Tussee actually great ho Yoguji…*broad grin…self pat-pat*

I entered the empty classroom and located her desk. I slid the card (taped to a piece of stone) in the book compartment underneath the desk so that she won’t miss it. I sat behind her desk and then I waited. And waited. And waited.

All the lazy bums started pouring in quite at the same time. But she didn’t turn up. Her 2 friends came in (the ones she usually came in and sat with)…but she wasn’t there! Crap. It looked like she wasn’t gonna turn up. Of all the days to maro chuttee…she chose the V Day!!! Dhat tere ki! But worse things were in store for me.

You see…I usually address all my romantic mail with…For You (copyright) in front of the card…with the initial "- Y" (copyright) at the bottom. According to my considerable experience…it has a thrilling effect on the receiver. I tried the same here too. Imagine my surprise when her idli-faced friend turned around blushing like a madcap!!! Aiyyo! I returned a frozen smile back to her and started shaking my head slowly…painfully aware that the class was silent and the Professor (forgot his name) had already started talking about “geometric straight lines”. Idli-face now turned her focus on the card. Feeling utterly helpless, I panicked…and just as she was about to open the card I leaned forward with lightning speed and jabbed her in the shoulder with my pen! She yelled out a painful yelp and turned around abruptly…shock and hurt glaring out of her eyes!

The series of events after that are a blurred memory…although I do remember apologizing to the professor…offering to take idli-face to a hospital…and eventually giving the card to its rightful owner…my dearest Anu. Needless to say, after this charming incident…and then some…Anu became my first ever official girlfriend. And as for idli-face…hmmm…I know this will sound cruel…but I seriously can’t remember what happened to her.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahta Hoon

My bua in Delhi is crazy about Bombay for just one reason…film stars. And she is way up there in the family hierarchy. So any time she is visiting us, we HAVE to make sure that she gets to witness at least a couple of “stars” and go back to Delhi all giggly and gushy.

So the year was around 1994, and here she was again with her loud kids (my cousins) jumping joyously from the fact that she had just spotted Johnny Lever on the plane! What can I say…she is easily impressed. After a few days, I received the illustrious duty to take the whole noisy lot to the Filmistan Studios where we hoped to spot someone a little more…eyeable.

Entering a film studio is like entering a high-profile prison…with its guarded steel entrance door, the high walls…and a general air of secrecy surrounding the place. Once inside though, it’s a different world altogether! A flurry of activity greets you and you are immediately sucked into the excitement! I was always a movie buff but never a hero/heroine worshipper…so this whole act of seeing them in person did not fit in too well with my nature. Although still a reluctant tour guide…once inside, even I was taken in by the whole atmospherics…but my cousins and bua were totally frenzoid!

Look!…there rests Pappu Pager!…oh!!! look look!! there goes the extra who has been a doctor/lawyer/ coolie/sarpanch in a million movies…hey!…is that blind guy Kader Khan??? ouch! what gaudy clothes these woman dancers wear…nicely cut though…hehehe…everything is so colorful…and it seems like EVERYONE is walking around with make-up on their face!!! Whoa!!! Suresh Oberoi with a broad… yikes!!!…she is yesteryear’s queen Rakhee!!! Are they having an affair???

By now, we were all giddy with excitement and started walking around the whole complex searching and hunting for known faces. It’s a bunch of ugly looking concrete buildings and not a pretty sight really. Since you need a different sort of permission to enter each building (which we didn’t have)…we were content with just prancing around the paths linking the buildings…hoping to catch glimpses of famous filmi people walking in and out of these so-called sheds.

Then, we spotted a group of young kids and their families…much like us… standing and chatting noisily between two buildings. We hurried in their direction to find out that the shooting for a song-scene of the movie “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun” was about to begin in the building on the right…and the make-up room for the main artistes was in the building on the left. And so far…no one had passed through yet. Yipeee!!!!! My Bua and cousins whooped with joy at the prospect of seeing Salman Khan in living flesh!!! I really wasn’t all that thrilled as I had already seen the dud a couple of times earlier…unceremoniously chewing channa in his balcony. I was wondering who the heroine was when suddenly…a maddening collective shriek emerged from the crowd…and I saw Shortie Khan come out…dressed in all white! The children, including my bua, just swamped the crap out of the little guy with their tiny autograph booklets. But he graciously handled them all and signed as many of them as he could and actually returned the pen to its owner before he managed to reach the other end into the safety of the studio. He also winked at my bua who nearly collapsed. I was impressed.

Minutes later, junior characters like Laxmikanth Berde and a few others followed but did not create much of a ripple amongst the kids…who by now were getting restless and impatient…waiting for the heroine to come out.

And then…she glided out. The angel…the most beautiful face my memory can ever remember. Madhuri. I expected the kids to crush her anytime with their books…messing up that beautiful purple saree…screwing up all that delicate make-up. But something magical occurred. All the murmuring came to a complete halt and there was absolute pin drop silence. As she approached, the crowd blocking the entrance parted slowly to make way for her. Just like apna Moses. She did not once look up…but had a constant shy smile on her face…gracefully holding her saree so that it doesn’t touch the floor. There was still complete silence as she took her first steps to cross the freshly created path. She walked as if the hot concrete path was made of soft fragrant flowers…her each and every delicate move possessed by a charm and grace only goddesses possess. I could smell her from where I stood…and I got goose bumps in more places than I’d care to admit. Everyone had their eyes glued to that face…that smile…that allure…it was as if there was a halo surrounding her entire being. She shone…with a splendour not of this earth. As she floated across the short pavement…holding time hostage to her whim…every living being was frozen there…even an impoverished cat…staring from above an abandoned staircase. The moment passed…and she crossed into the studio on the other side. The silence continued for a while… broken finally by the exhaling of air from all of us who were holding our breath. Gorgeous…magical…a priceless moment. We all oddly felt very humbled…and the loud noise and chattering of before was replaced by hushed tones and whispers.

Main Madhuri Dixit banna chahta hoon…not because I am a cross dresser…but because I wish I had a personality like hers!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Swami Vivekananda: His Life and His Message

I had to present a speech on Swami Vivekananda in my Vedanta Center on 4th of July (Swamiji's samadhi day). Here is a transcript I prepared. It went off really well and people actually applauded when I was done! Here you go...

Good morning everyone…and wish you all a very happy 4th of July. My topic for today is about Swami Vivekananda: His Life AND His Message. Now…a few months back we started the Vivekananda Study Circle…here in the Center. We meet every Sunday at 4:00 PM and Swami C acts as our guide and moderator…and that’s really wonderful because Swami shares a lot of juicy titbits from Swamiji’s life…which is hard to find elsewhere!

It’s really very inspiring…so I encourage all of you to try to attend…at least one of these sessions if you can. And by the way…that was my sales pitch for the day!

I remember the first time we approached Swami about the Study Circle. We had our own ideas about…you know…what material we should use to begin the class with. I was like “Swami…I think we should start with Inspired Talks”…”no no no”…someone else said…”Let’s start with the letters of Swamiji!”…”No!” chimed another…I think it was Sriram…”How about Talks with Vivekananda!?!”

Swami C…in his graciousness…listened to all our suggestions very patiently…but his look said it all. He was probably thinking…*sigh*…And these guys are my disciples? Arey baap re baap!!!…”. I am just kidding Swami…

Well…he simply said…”I think we should start with something a little more basic. How about beginning with the The Life of Swamiji?…because you know what…his life WAS his message!” And that was it! So simple and yet so profound. His life WAS indeed his message!

So when I first got this topic…His Life AND His message…I was faced with a problem…you see…Swamiji lived such an impossibly interesting, entertaining and complicated life that you can interpret a thousand messages off a single page from the book of his life. Swami N says it best when he says that Swamiji’s words are scriptures. Please note…not “like” scriptures but “are” indeed scriptures in themselves. And we all know how difficult it is to interpret scriptures…even though…in Swamiji’s case…it’s in a language that we are all familiar with.

So I had to select just one message that rang out loud and clear from everything I had read and heard of him so far…and THAT…was my difficulty. He stands for so many things!…how do I choose just one!?! But I had to. So I hit upon this very rudimentary approach…I call it the Bollywood approach because it is so dramatic…I closed my eyes and decided that the first thing that crosses my mind when I think of Swamiji…THAT will be the message closest to my heart…and that’s what I’ll speak about. So I did just that…I closed my eyes and thought of Swamiji…and his turbaned aristocratic image as a Hindoo Monk in Chicago…with his arms folded…floated through my mind. Immediately a bright neon flashing sign followed…with the words…”Bold AND Fearless!!!”. That was the thought! Bold AND Fearless!!! So I decided that to be Swamiji’s message for today’s talk.

To indicate how Swamiji’s life was his message applied in practice, I’ll quote a couple of passages from his works and narrate a few incidents from his life.

To begin with I would like to quote a passage from the diary of one of Swamiji’s foremost disciple… Sri Sharat Chandra Chakravarthy. These are Swamiji’s own words…

Those who are always down-hearted and dispirited in this life can do no work; from life to life they come and go wailing and moaning. “The earth is enjoyed by heroes” – this is the unfailing truth. Be a hero. Always say, “I have no fear.” Tell this to everybody – “Have no fear”. Fear is death, fear is sin, fear is hell, fear is unrighteousness, fear is wrong. All the negative thoughts and ideas that are in this world have proceeded from this evil spirit of fear. Therefore I say, “Be fearless, be fearless”

Swamiji lived this ideal of fearlessness even as a small child. When he was barely 8 years old…he used to visit a friend of his…whose family had a Champaka tree in their compound. The Champaka flowers are said to be liked by Shiva and were incidentally a favorite of Swamiji’s too. This was Swamiji’s favorite tree and he loved to dangle head down from it! One day as he was swinging from the tree, the old and nearly blind grandfather of the house recognized his voice and approached him. The old man was afraid that the boy might fall and hurt himself…or worse…that he might lose some of his precious Champaka flowers! He called Naren (which was Swamiji’s pre-monastic name) down and told him not to climb the tree again. “Why?” asked Naren. “Because”..the old man answered…”a Brahmadaitya (a ghost of a Brahmin) lives in that tree…and at night he goes about dressed all in white, and he is terrible to look at!” This was news to Naren, who wanted to know what else this Ghost could do besides wander about. The old man replied…”And he breaks the necks of those who climb the tree!”

Naren simply nodded and said nothing and the old man went away smiling to himself in triumph. As soon as he had gone some distance, Naren climbed the tree again and was dangling back in his former position. His friend…who was there all along…cried out…”Naren! The Brahmadaitya is sure to catch you and break your neck!” Naren laughed heartily and said…”What a silly fellow you are! Don’t believe everything just because someone tells you! If the old grandfather’s story were true…then my neck would have been broken long ago!”

And this was Swamiji as a young boy…Bold AND fearless with an exceptionally strong common sense!

Another interesting quote we find is from a reply to an address of welcome he gave at Paramakudi upon his return from the West. These were his words…

“If there is one word that you find coming out like a bomb from the Upanishads, bursting like a bomb-shell upon masses of ignorance, it is the word fearlessness. And the only religion that ought to be taught is the religion of fearlessness. Either in this world or in the world of religion, it is true that fear is the sure cause of degradation and sin. It is fear that brings misery, fear that brings death, fear that breeds evil. And what causes fear? Ignorance of our own true nature.”

Here he presents the real source for every fear that exists in this world. Ignorance of our own true nature. What IS our true nature? That we are one with Brahman…nay!…that we ARE Brahman…one without a second. If Brahman alone exists…and there is no second, then who will you fear? Fear arises the minute we feel that we are separate from God.

The incident which I am now going to narrate clearly illustrates what happens when we forget this truth. This took place during the Baranagore Math days…when Swamiji was about 25 years old.

One morning in Sarnath, after visiting the temple of Mother Durga, the Swami was passing through a place, where there was a large tank of water on one side and a high wall on the other. Here, he was surrounded by a troop of large monkeys. They were not willing to allow him to pass…and there was no other way. As he tried to walk past them, they howled and shrieked and clutched at his feet. As they pressed closer, he began to run; but the faster he ran, the bolder the monkeys got and they attempted to bite at him. When it seemed impossible for him to escape, he heard an old sannyasi calling out to him: “Face the brutes!” The words brought him to his senses. He stopped running and turned majestically to boldly face the irate monkeys. As soon as he did that, they fell back and fled! With reverence and gratitude he gave the traditional greeting to the sannyasi, who smilingly responded with the same, and walked away.

You know…every time I hear this story, I visualize the scene when Swamiji turns around to face the aggressive monkeys…and I can’t help but imagine the expression on the faces of all the monkeys grow from anger to that of sudden shock…and then confusion…and finally dawning into an expression of mortal fear of the man they were just chasing!

The hunter becomes the hunted. Bold AND fearless. That was Swamiji as a young man.

In a New York lecture years later, the Swami referred to this incident and pointed to its moral: “That is a lesson for all life – face the terrible, face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the hardships of life fall back when we cease to flee before them. If we are ever to gain freedom, it must be by conquering nature, never by running away. Cowards never win victories. We have to fight fear and troubles and (mark this word) “IGNORANCE” if we expect them to flee before us.”

I would like to narrate one more incident that highlights the extent of Swamiji’s boldness.

Once, during his days as a wandering monk in India, Swamiji was passing through Rajputana (which is present day Rajhasthan) in a train and was traveling with 2 Englishmen in the same compartment. They took him to be an ignorant monk and made jokes in English at his expense. The Swami sat as though he did not understand one word. When the train stopped at a station further on he asked the station-master in English for a glass of water. When his companions discovered that he knew English and had understood all that they had said, they were much embarrassed by their conduct and asked him why it was that he had not shown any sign of resentment. He replied…”My friends, this is not the first time I have seen fools.” The Englishmen got angry and showed fight. How dare a native insult them like this! But seeing the Swami’s strongly-built frame and his fearless undaunted spirit, they thought better of it and apologized to him.

This might appear to be a small incident but put in the right context, it was very remarkable what Swamiji did. India was being ruled by the British at that time and all natives were considered no better than slaves. This act of his could have easily landed him in a lot of trouble, but seeing his absolute disregard for fear…the Englishmen thought better of engaging with him any further.

Bold AND fearless…with a wit to match! That was Swamiji.

It’s very clear that Swamiji’s belief in fearlessness arose not only from studying the scriptures…but in large part through the various experiences in his life. He lived what he preached. His life was INDEED his message.

To illustrate this once more…I would like to end with the last part of a letter he sent to Swami Brahmananda from Muree in 1897. He says here…

“I bless you all with a full heart. May Mother enshrine Herself in your hearts as strength: the support that is fearlessness – May she make you all fearless. This I have seen in life – he who is over-cautious about himself, falls into dangers at every step; he who is afraid of losing honor and respect, gets only disgrace; he who is always afraid of loss, always loses…May all good attend you all.

Yours affectionately,

Thank You