Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Walking the Streets of Ahmedabad

Today, after a long time, I walked the streets of Ahmedabad.

It's been nearly 3 years that I have lived in the city. Like any other outsider, when I first got here, I didn't know my way around. I relied on others to take me around. But slowly, I found my geographical bearings. I came to know the city through her buses, her chugadas (shuttle rickshaws) and with my own feet. I have traveled the city a lot, taking new streets and expecting intersections, but found out from a series of wrong turns that the city followed the meander of the river and in fact was more like a half-circle. I have come to know some areas better than Amdavadis.

Today after a long time, I took to the street again. I sought to be alone. One would expect that I could find this in the isolation of my flat, but that was not the case. I found isolation in the noise of the streets. The focus became the few feet in front of me, the noise of the street dimmed away and I could hear my thoughts clearly.

As I walked, I recalled a philosophy / spiritual lecture that Guruji one gave where he spoke of tirth dhams or places of pilgrimage. People go to these places to be alone, which seems ironic as these places are very crowded. Yet the reality is that within the chaos of Kumbh, the crowds at Badrinath, the people at Mecca, one finds isolation. The crowds give way to solitude.

So the noise of the street faded away as I walked the familiar streets of Ahmedabad. My troubled mind calmed. In the bustle of the streets, I found my solitude as I walked the streets of Ahmedabad once more.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

WIshing you the best!

As I sit here in India, I send out a prayer and thoughts full of love to two dear people - Rahul and Asha who are taking their first steps together as a married couple today. They are two inspiring people and film-makers, who are using their creativity and media to spread goodness in the world and uplift the underpriviledged. It's a pleasure to know them and I look forward to seeing all the things they come up with in the future.

Some examples of their work:
- Asha helped found INSPIRE - short term service trips to India that give participants a chance to experience India in a whole new way as they visit organizations all over the country, participating in service projects in slums, working on an organic farm and more. What's more, this year INSPIRE went gift-economy!
- Both of them headed a pilot project in Ahmedabad which I got to see firsthand called Lok Darshan - a weekly video broadcast of news and stories created by the community for the community
- Both of them spent time in Orissa working with Gram Vikas creating these amazing films on the work that they do, not only is the video inspiring, but their experiences there were incredible
- Rahul has created wonderful videos on many topics, including a fantastic project he worked on to bring together children from Pakistan and India called Friends without Borders, his videos posted on his youtube channel and stories about them on his blog

Friday, May 01, 2009

Aum - The Primordial Sound

Yesterday, the topic of Guruji's spiritual lecture was the primordial sound Aum. I have heard that description of Aum before - the primordial sound, but the first time I really understood this name was when I heard Guruji speak on Aum. I think of the great things about hearing Guruji speak is that because he has such a breadth of knowledge, he easily shows how one topic is inter-related with others. Aum was related to topics such as creation, absolute reality (Brahma), music, naad (sound), chakras, the different states of the soul and how the mind works.

I have heard he speak on this topic before, but each time, something new is revealed and previous information is digested more thoroughly, so his talks are never a bore.

A fellow disciple of Guruji really described him very aptly in saying that Guruji is a walking encyclopedia. I am reminded of my good fortune to be his student all the time and that feeling is always more prevalent when hearing him share his gyan (knowledge).