Wednesday, August 31, 2005

She's Mine. Or Am I Hers?

The Goddess

Throughout history, humanity has perceived a Higher Power mostly in the masculine form-as a God. In Greek, Hindu, and Egyptian cultures, this power has also been interpreted to be feminine-as a Goddess. Although it may not be necessary to even picture this power in any form, in my mind, I have often felt this essence in the feminine spirit. Maybe it made me feel empowered, more comfortable in my body, more proud of being a woman, more in touch with my feminine side. Sometimes delicate, sometimes wild, just like her! Whatever the reason, I was inspired to write this poem just for her:

Called At Last

Here I am,
The Goddess and Me,
Hand in hand
One flame, one word.
Free as the wind
To walk the earth
Fearless as the moon
To love the night
Free as the stars
To shine as bright
And be who She called me to be!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bajaj Avenger-Biking to Nirvana-Hulk of the Month!

The Biker

From the mystical to the material…This post has to do with something very down-to-earth. A bike commercial.

Bajaj is a name that is synonymous with advertising which hits right home. Ask an average Indian about Bajaj bikes, and I bet the old ad jingle “Hamara Bajaj…” will start playing in his head! Not only was the music for these ads catchy, the visuals were also appealing and heartwarming. Somehow they managed to capture the ethos of the Indian spirit. Bajaj (and their advertising agency) has now gone and done it again, with their new Bajaj Avenger advertisement. If there was one word that could sum up the ad, it’s a big “Wow!”. Now what’s so special about this ad? From the female point of view, the best part would be the guy on the bike, of course! He's so cool he could freeze an eskimo! Then of course, the music has to be the creation of a genius! Just the right one to reflect the bindaas attitude of the biker and the personality of the bike. Then come the visuals, which capture beautifully the vistas of Leh (or so it appears). The magnificent mountains form the perfect backdrop for what seems to be a journey to celebrate hard-won contentment…The black and white scenes interspersed in between show scenes from the biker’s life, pivotal scenes that may have been turning points, from his father lashing out at him, to his boss firing him, his girlfriend marrying someone else, etc. etc. I was curious as to why this advertisement hit the right chord in so many people’s hearts, and a comment from one of my friends put things into perspective-that these events, which would be painful for anyone, are things which could happen in anyone’s life…so it’s something that anybody could relate to. Bingo! What I liked was the advertisement implying that in spite of all these depressing events, getting on the bike and riding it was enough to make you forget and forgive all that happened to you - it felt like heaven! Feel like God! Perfect tagline! The expressions on the biker’s face are a class act, what with the whole attitude and personality of the bike reflecting perfectly on his face with every smile, snicker, and raise of an eyebrow. I don’t know what kind of feeling you get when actually riding this bike, (that's for you guys to decide), but I do know what the advertisement evokes in me- a feeling of boldness, an attitude of confidence, the belief that whatever Life throws your way, it can be melded into your character to make you stronger, better, and happier (and in the case of this biker, must say, definitely great-looking!). The advertising agency that created this deserves to ride the red carpet (on what else but an Avenger!) at every advertising award this year.

So who’s the flavor of the month, all this month, on Mystic Altar? The Bajaj Avenger bike….nope, the Bajaj Avenger biker! Because the essence and spirit of the bike was brought alive by this man in a way that is totally stylish! Whoever you are, you rock!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Of Movies, Music, and Spirit

If there was one movie I could make everyone on this planet see, which would it be? If there was one movie I wish I had the heart, ingenuity, creativity, and talent to have written and directed, which would it be? Which is the one movie I feel has that perfect combination of memorable characters, an unforgettable story, inspiring values, a background score that fits the movie perfectly, and wonderful music by a great musician?

Suspense over...It’s “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”, a full-length animation film about a horse! Haven’t you heard the song, “Here I am” by Bryan Adams? Well that melodious track belongs here. This is one movie that will tug at your heart strings and set your brain cells ticking. At least, it did it for me.

This mustang is no ordinary horse. Born and let loose onto the big screen straight from the stables of the legendary DreamWorks Studios, he galloped into the Oscars with 14 nominations and 8 wins, and with Hans Zimmer for a music director and Bryan Adams writing and singing, you have a volatile combination. The animation in this movie, with such endearing expressions on the characters, makes you forget that these characters are not real, they’re drawn by human hands and computerized!

The theme that runs throughout the movie is one which I have written about before-freedom. The loss of freedom, the return to freedom. As such, this movie could fall into the category of movies like Born Free and Free Willy. This mustang’s story even reminds me of the real story, published in Reader’s Digest, about the African boy who was enslaved as a kid and escaped as an adult, risking his life, but with his spirit unbroken. To draw a parallel between the movie and real life, there are stories and stories of how humans have taken away the basic rights of other humans, right from the Nazi treatment of the Jews, to what happened recently in Sudan’s Darfur region. What about Rwanda? What about apartheid in South Africa? And what about how our very own countrymen were under British rule for over 150 years? Africans taken as slaves in America? Even men or women abused by their spouses, children abused by elders…Every time a nation, individual, or a group of people harbor the illusion that they are superior than another, that the other is created for the sole purpose of their own selfish needs, then we see freedom stripped off people, when it should be a basic given human right.

Under such circumstances, there are those who fall under the iron hand, whose backs are broken and spirits defeated. Those who give up the fight and don’t strike back. And then there are those who refuse to be beaten. Those whose souls are so resilient that nothing and noone can make them forget their true power. These are the individuals who bring the world back to its senses. That’s why I liked this mustang character so much! Whatever happened, through all the humiliation and browbeating and starvation, he refused to let anyone ride him! He remained free in his life, because he was free in spirit. That boldness and belief in himself is a value that I hope everyone remembers they have. If there was one quality I'd like future generations to imbibe, it would be that: boldness of spirit!

The songs by Bryan Adams in this movie fits the character and storyline so well that it’s difficult to imagine something better.. The song “Get off my back”, “Here I am”, and “I will always return” are my favorites. Not only are the lyrics true to the spirit of the movie, Bryan Adam’s raw vocals add an extra punch to the words that make you want to go out and buy the album at once!

If you’re reading this now, and you don’t have access to the CD/DVD or album, one good place to start would be the website- Visit it and do watch the movie. If you have kids, make sure they watch it too!

Life, Love, and Lulu

The snapshot above is of my dog, Lulu. Now, I just winced when I wrote that sentence. The words “my dog” seem to be winking at me and striking my conscience. Because she’s not just a dog to me. And because somehow, in the minds of people who have never been blessed to share their lives and homes with a dog, the word “dog” brings up images and connotations that a dog is somehow inferior to a human being. That dogs don’t think, can’t feel, and are just put on earth either to help you hunt, guard your home, or as a status symbol in society, in the case of high-priced pedigreed dogs.

In my experience with Lulu, I am ashamed to admit that she has given me far more than I have given her. What have I given her? Food, a warm shelter, maybe a hug here or a hug there. And what has she given me in return? That one special look in her large black limpid eyes that tell me of a love and adoration that I have not seen in any two-legged creature before and maybe not ever! A tail that wags so vigorously when I get back home even if it’s after just 5 minutes of going out, that I fear it would break apart any instant! Wet, slippery kisses on my nose when I’m down in the dumps and sobbing my heart out for some reason or the other, when nobody else sees, and nobody else seems to care. A warm body that snuggles up to me at night (yes, she shares my bed!) and shares my nightmares, my dreams, my insomnia, my dead-to-the-world sleep. A love that is so restless when I’m not around that it doesn’t sleep, drink, or eat until I get back home.

So, is she just a “dog”? Or my friend? Or my soul-mate? After all, soulmates can come in all shapes and sizes. Many a time, I have felt that Lulu is an angel sent from up above, a sort of earthing conductor (like a lightening rod!) who drains away all the bad vibes and unhealthy energy dynamics that are there in my family, as there would be in any family. Because of her, fights between family members whimper out, a smile breaks out on the most hardened, sulky, argument-weathered face, and all is well with the world again! In a place where love is supposed to be assumed and not shown, where physical demonstrations of love are a no-no (typical indian family), I don’t know what I would have done without Lulu. She is a safe conduit for me to shower all the love and affection hidden inside my heart, which I cannot show anywhere else. If I didn’t have her to pour out my affection, with all my hugs and kisses, then all that energy would have stood still inside my heart and I would have ended up like a stagnant body of energy, nowhere to go, still and deep, but not flowing anywhere…That’s why I feel she is such a God-send to me and to my family. She has changed the dynamics of how we interact with each other. She has even made me re-think my eating habits. When before I could eat meat without a flicker of guilt, now when I look into the eyes of an animal that is being led to the slaughter, I think of Lulu’s eyes, and I cannot eat it….So many changes in me and in my family, that too because of a creature that cannot even talk! I have learnt to be patient, to be forgiving, to be affectionate, all just by being in her presence. Learning to love by just being with Love.

I have seen many people crusading around trying to change others, change the world, make it a better place, but in Lulu, I finally found the key to making the world a better place.. there is no need to go around teaching and preaching and fighting.. if you want to see a change in the world, in other people, all you have to do is be that change yourself. Bring that change into your essence. Be it. Live it. Embrace it. Be an example. If you want to dispel the darkness, be the light, rather than just hold a torch that beams the light. Be what you want others to be. Just the act of being will attract others to you, make them think, make them want to change, and change them without them even knowing it! And all this I have learnt from the dark limpid eyes of an intense lil’ soul that came into my life in the form of a dog and whom we named Lulu! This one is for you, girl!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Quotes-Marianne Willamson, Eliot, Gandhi, Cervante,

The world abounds with quotes, and it seems anyone who knows how to string words together has a quote attributed to him/her. However, the ones that have struck me, inspired me, and motivated me are a handful and I'd like to re-quote them here, in hopes that if there is someone out there in need of an inspirational pick-me-up, it could be found here. So here goes:

"I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be "happy". I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all." Leo C. Rosten

"It's never too late to be what you might have been."-George Eliot

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people that have come alive." — Harold Thurman Whitman

"Never stand begging for that which you have the power to earn."-Miguel de Cervantes

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves:
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?"
— Marianne Williamson, as quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech

“Be the change you wish to see for the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are"-e.e. cummings

"Do not try to deny or override your divine discontent. Heed its call; capture the wave and ride it home."

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."-Dr. Seuss

Born free to live free

Seeing the movie Born Free and later, reading a story about an African boy who escaped from slavery, made me think long and hard about certain things which I took for granted, like freedom...What I felt first was outrage, and these words are born from that sense of mad anger that such things happen even now...I believe that no spirit is born to be captive. Every spirit, whatever form it takes, is born free and meant to be free. Nobody has the right to break the spirit of another, whether it is an animal, a human, or a plant. We see broken spirits all around us, in the eyes of children neglected or abused by parents, relatives, friends, in the eyes of animals wasting away their power and beauty in rotten rusting cages in zoos, in circuses, in the eyes of birds held captive, in the eyes of animals being held and brutalized and tormented for research purposes, in the presence of plants stifled and stapled for "aesthetic" purposes, giants dwarfed in the name of "Bonsai"... Noone should have to live like this.. half a spirit...Live in the full glory of who you truly are.. Celebrate yourself! And don't let anyone break you down!

Do you know the value of freedom?

The most important value in life, for me, is my freedom. The freedom to be myself, the freedom to make choices based on my value system. What is life without the freedom of choice? Without the freedom to think, to just be? That is something we take for granted and think we have, but on introspection, I realize that very few of us can lay claim to freedom of the soul. We may be free in all other respects, but there is always something or someone that holds us back from being ourselves, from living our lives the way we truly want.. it may be social conditioning, it may even be our parents, spouses, children, loans, the government, the list goes on...Of course, with great freedom comes great responsibility, and for argument's sake, it could be said that it would be detrimental to society if everybody does as they wished...but I'm not talking about "Great" freedom here, just "Basic" freedom...What made me think about this was an article in the Reader's Digest-the condensed book section-about an African boy who was kidnapped and taken as a slave at the age of 7, and remained so for a decade or so, and later escaped to the United States and is now an active crusader for abolition of slavery, which is still rampant in parts of Africa. His story is truly heart wrenching...I felt outraged that in this day and age, this could still happen...the other time I felt this outraged was when I read about female genital mutilation (FGM), but that would have to be the topic of another post...

Poetry at its finest

This is a a poem by "Oriah". Although I have read many a poem in my lifetime, this one touched my soul. Since it's quite a long poem, I've decided to retain here only those verses that really sang to my heart...

The Invitation

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

A swami with loads of attitude!

If I could institute an award for the best blogger, it would go to Jesse Kornbluth, also known as Swami Uptown. You can find him on, under "blogs". This is one person who does not mince words, is honest, upfront, bold, and smart...A good read and a good way to sharpen your wits and thinking...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

These are a few of my favorite sites...

For the betterment of humankind, I've decided to include here a compilation of some of the places I love to visit on the net...some of these sites have taught me a lot, some have made me think, made me laugh, made me wonder, made me cry, and made me rethink! Could happen to you too.. check these out! (Know Thyself better.. knowledge is Power) (will redefine the term armchair traveller...stupendous technology! A must-see!) (Gourmet cuisine for the soul) (all the gyaan for shy and not-so-shy introverts) (want to be a new wave of earthlings or are you one already?) (a wonderful, free computer tutorial site) (don't go here if you don't want to start thinking!) (from religion to politics.. its all here!) (a must-do!) (for all the answers you had inside of you but forgot you knew!) (finally, a place to express and publish yourself free!)

Hail the Net!

I feel like offering a lil prayer of gratitude to the Gods and Goddesses of the Internet…What would we do without the net? All my life, I’ve felt kind of weird because of my thoughts, views and ideas, from the more mundane things to the more heavyweight stuff. Once I got onto the “web”, though, all of that changed. I’ve found out that I’m really not weird, just different, but so is everyone else, and there are others like me!