Sreenath Sreenivasan

Thriving Mindfully

Category: Culture

A Farmer’s Demise

Life gives the farmer grains and lemons few,
He take them to sell, with a hope new,
And again he falls for the market’s spell,
He makes a big loss, for all that he could sell.

 

Life gives Sahib, means to money and more,
He trades all day, hoping the market shall soar,
A seasoned player, he knows the game too well,
He makes a fortune yet, to no one shall he tell

 

The farmer in agony, comes home to rest,
He pours himself a drink meant for a pest,
Dejected, in tears, down he chugs,
And wreaths and submits to a death meant for bugs.

 

The Sahib comes home, ecstatic from the gain,
He pours himself a drink, brewed from the farmer’s grain,
Elated, he finds himself in seventh heaven,
And follows the drink with a lick of salt and lemon.

 

It is high time, Sahib needs an awakening rude,
He needs the farmer, even before there is any food,
Sahib, make a change, make sure that you see,
That no farmer ever dies, wishing money grew on his tree.

 

 

Reinventing the wheel

 

A billboard it said, that happiness is far,
Unless you drove around in a car.
Convinced she bought a car, a pram, a wheelchair,
And deprived herself of any time to care.

 

The lady, she fell for the sinister scam,
Of putting her baby in a pram
Busy as a bee, with work and earning,
For warmth and love, her baby kept yearning.

 

And on a Sunday, in wishful despair,
She put her mother in a wheelchair
Mother, she prayed night and noon,
Far better if her end came too soon.

 

Before it occurred to the lady’s mind
The baby could speak, mother became blind
But she had no time for Joy or sorrow,
She promised to attend to them tomorrow.

 

The blind mother mistakes the nurse for daughter
And Nanny was the first word the baby uttered
It left the busy lady aghast
But it drove some sense into her at last.

 

With three four wheelers and no space for touch,
She missed out on motherhood, a loss such !
Attention deficit, forever in a car seat,
The convenience of wheels rendered her obsolete.

 

A lesson learnt tough, much did it reveal,
A sacred law of nature did she repeal

And now she knows, deeply does she feel
What a wasteful attempt it was,
To reinvent the wheel.

 

 

On the urgent need for Motherhood

We are living in a challenging time in history. Yes, there have been times in the past when life was much more difficult, life expectancy was low and there was a constant threat of invasions, battles and bloodshed.
That was a part of evolution of the human psyche.
But, never before in history have we heard Mother Earth being endangered by any species.

Us.

Times have changed.

The appalling desecration our race has perpetrated on our planet is beyond question.

Is there a way we can bring about a shift in our global consciousness?

I believe there is.

We, as humans, regardless of gender, need to embody the spirit of motherhood.

A mother is an epitome of unconditional love, integrity, resilience, foresight, character, care and concern.

Is there any problem that seems too big to surmount if there’s a motherly spirit around you?

Sadly though, our mainstream culture is witnessing a global shift towards a masochistic aggression.
World leaders are rolling up hatred and divisiveness to get elected in office. And they seem to be winning at the moment.

This cultural shift gets imbibed in the spirit of the young boys, the leaders of tomorrow.

But is there one problem we are facing that we were able to address or solve with this attitude?
We cannot go on like this.

I believe the road to cultivating more motherhood in our society has to infiltrate from down to up, from our little homes to the big offices.

Let me cite an example.

A little boy has no qualms about picking up a puppy, feeding it and cuddling with it all day. It is absolutely comfortable with loving and caring like a mother.
But past a certain age, boys refrain from doing the same.
Part of it is hormonal, but surely part of it has to do with societal conditioning.
Even fathers dissuade young boys from being a ‘girl’. Friends reprimand each other to ‘man-up’.
The societal precedent for manhood is not well placed, neither for the heart of the man, nor for the spirit of the world.

We need to make men believe that having a soft, caring and compassionate heart is not being effeminate,
But it is being motherly.

We need the spirit of motherhood in our offices, in public and environmental policy, in administration, in the government.

As reality stands today, majority of workforce comprises of men.

If we open our minds and welcome the motherly spirit in the hearts of our men, the world will see a discerning positive change.

And if we have the whole world embody a caring motherly spirit rather than just half of it, there will only be a mellifluous harmony in our collective existence.

Mother Earth would welcome our motherhood.

In the end,
I believe that a man of great character is one who has the heart, to have the heart of a mother.

Let us foster motherhood.

Together.

 

Picture : via www.lifeisanecho.com

 

 

Cables of convenience

When water comes to me from a silver tap,
I want it either hot or cold
But if I needed to go fetch water in a pail
Just water would do.

What makes the difference?
Is it the metal pipes?
I wonder.

If food comes to me riding on a scooter,
I want it to taste just right,
But if I had to cook myself,
A simple stir fry would do.

What makes the difference?
Is it convenience on discount?
I wonder.

If entertainment comes to me riding on waves,
I want it tailored just right,
But if I’m in the countryside
I just need a street play or the clear sky of the night.

What makes the difference?
Is it the fiber optic cables?
I wonder.

When electricity comes to me breezing from a tube,
Days aren’t long enough, even if lights makes a day of the night,
While in the wilderness, with two bulbs in the sky, the length of each day is always just right.

What makes the difference?
Is it the black cables dangling overhead?
I wonder.

What makes the difference,
What doesn’t enable but un-ables?
Is it the waves in the air, the pipes and
All those cables?

Now I understand,
It took me a while,
All cables make me hungry and immobile.

I observe, learn and understand bit by bit,
Each cable of transmission attenuates the value of what flows in it.

A resource no matter how replete,
My wants can easily deplete,
Partake in need, it makes sense complete,
And easily shall my ends meet.

In moderation, and minimalism
Does lay all the sense
I realise the path that I should tread hence,
Do away with all wants,
And all pretence,
And not be a puppet tied to,
Cables of convenience.

How a Himalayan trek refined my Education about Veganism

It had been five hours since we started our trek downhill from Beding, a little hamlet in the Rolwaling valley in North-East Nepal.
Exhausted as we were, the sight of a house at a distance felt like spotting an Oasis.
Our determined feet stamped onward to reach the solitary house in a village called Dugong.

We could smell a local alcohol made out of rice called ‘Rakshi’ brewing in the kitchen.

‘Namaste, Ajool…’ my friend Lee greeted enthusiastically.

An elderly Sherpa lady stooped out of her house with the most welcoming smile I’ve ever been graced with.

She invited us into her kitchen-cum-restaurant.

We could see she only had two wood fired stoves with her with one brewing the ‘Rakshi’.

‘Khana Jaldi Chaiyo’ Lee explained with animation that we need food fast.

She laughed and pointed her finger towards a packet of noodles. I was sure she was used to the state of hunger of trekkers.

We assented at her suggestion and she got busy in her kitchen.

The house was made out of a lot of wood, labor and love. The cutlery, minimal and neatly arranged. There was water pipe delivering water right to her house straight from the little cascade behind her log cabin. The place had an energy of contentment, one that can only come with age, acceptance and wisdom.
There was a place for everything and everything was in its place.

After a moment, I wondered what this old lady would be doing for company. She only had one neighbour who seemed to be out for work in the forest.

‘She must surely feel lonely all by herself’ I wondered.

Within moments we heard the door of the kitchen being banged at. We wondered who it could be. The Sherpa lady’s face lit up with a smile. She reprimanded at the person at the door with unmistakable affection.

The determined banging continued on.
Finally she could no longer keep the door closed and lightly let it ajar.
And with the halo of the outside world behind itself, shone the bright white fur of a little baby sheep.

It jumped inside the kitchen and went straight to the lady. For the next half an hour, they played with each other like grandson and grandmother. There was such stubborn affection in the sheep for the lady, that it would never leave her alone. The lady would push it aside with loving aggression only to secretly expect it to come back to harass her.

Tumbling many pots and pans around the kitchen and eating out of places it shouldn’t, the baby sheep made itself feel at home.

The lady could only love the sheep more. There was no other way.

Once our meals were ready, she served us on the beautifully aged table made out of forest wood.
She rested herself on the ground, took the sheep in her lap and adoringly spoke to it in a language she was sure the sheep understood, only to not obey.

Just moments ago, I was feeling a bit sad for the woman who I assumed was living all by herself in this remote mountain village.
How wrong was I !
She had such a bountiful expression of life living alongside her.
The sheep was not just entertainment, or company or a means to have food, milk or leather for that matter.
It was life itself for her.

Witnessing this aspect of life changed my perspective profoundly.

A day ago, we were served Yak cheese with boiled potatoes in the village uphill. I was a bit hesitant while eating since I refrain from having animal products as much as possible.
But that was the only food available and we had to respect the emotion of the locals for whom Yak cheese is a delicacy reserved for special occasions.
We chose to eat what was served.

Much to my surprise, that was certainly one of the most delicious food combinations I had ever tasted.
I ate as much as I possibly could.
The next day, we saw free roaming Yak in the pastures nearby being milked lovingly by a village lady.

The Yak showed it’s affection back in equal measure, much like the baby sheep at the Sherpa lady’s house.

I felt fortunate for being able to witness this bond between humans and animals. I have lived in cities all my life and have never experienced this paradigm of a relationship.

A few years ago, I chose to follow a Vegan lifestyle, primarily educating myself from resources online about how cruel the animal rearing industry is.
My education happened mostly,
online.

But for the first time, I could actually see how effortlessly animals and humans exist symbiotically.
With sincere love for each other.
There was never a rope in sight to secure an animal, for their hearts were always strung together to their human friends’ hearts.
In harsh winter, the animals are taken care of by the local villagers like family. The village moves downhill to warmer places only when all its animals do.

In a way, it felt as if the animals took care of their human friends by giving them loving company, and perhaps a share of their milk.
Of course it can be disputed, and seen as exploitation.

I would argue like that earlier.

But once I saw the pristine relationship between man and animal in such harsh environment where weather and loneliness can take a toll on your health,
I realised the need for them to coexist in such beautiful harmony.

No animal is reared for meat in the villages here in the hills. And an animal’s death is mourned just as much as a family member’s.
Here, man chooses to be animal himself and treat another animal as family.

I turned Vegan thinking it would help end suffering, save the planet and create a peaceful world.
I still oppose commercial farming of animals.
But, this experience of witnessing symbiotic coexistence between man and animal has only made me realise my own animal self,
And how,
To understand our nature better, we need to spend time in nature.

While educating myself about veganism on my smartphone screen, all I could see was oppression and violence inflicted by us on animals.
I could feel a sense of guilt and hopelessness inside me for what we do to our fellow earthlings.

But out here in nature,
far away from the civilization I was brought up in, I could witness the animal side of us humans –
calm, compassionate and caring in the heart.
This education filled me with warmth, hope and optimism.

As I journey back to my life in the city,
A deeper understanding dawns upon me with each step,
About our true nature as a being,
The love we all have in our hearts,
And the way we should tread forward despite our conditioning,
Retaining the deep loving spirit that is part of us all.

Once we can do that, can we ever hurt any being?

Yak cheese tastes amazing by the way.
But what would feel inevitably better and worth experiencing is the gentle rub of a Yak’s fur on your shoulder on a windy winter morning.

 

 

On thumbs up, selfie camera and creating culture

For the past few days I’ve been bicycling in areas where there is no mobile connectivity whatsoever.
No phone calls, no internet, no social media.
There have been frequent stretches that were challenging each an every bit of me. Since I am new to biking in the mountains in such high altitude and UV ray exposure, it only added to the challenge posed by the terrain.

At spots where I thought I had given it all and I needed to stop, a biker would pass by on a motorcycle from the other side and give me a thumbs up. And I would pedal on a bit further, energised by the validation of a fellow human.
Soon, I would meet more bikers and everyone should give a thumbs up encouragingly.
At times, only their heartfelt applause would take me ahead.
By the end of the day, I would get a thumbs by so many people that I would be energised and be able to complete my daily cycling goal.

I realised that even if I do not have access to social media, where I would get a virtual thumbs up, here I was, getting a thumbs up validation in the real world by people who were physically present with me in that moment. That always made me feel that I was on the right track and I carried on.

A thumbs up has great power.
In the virtual world though, we use it far too callously in my opinion.

On social media, each time we hit the like button (thumbs up) we validate the person and his actions.
In the present cultural scenario, social media feed is rife with selfies and pictures people pose for. Natural pictures captured in the moment are becoming rarer.
Especially with millennials, who grew up with the selfie culture and trading likes for validation, a picture can get hundreds of likes by friends. This in turn populates the social media feed with more passive/ posed for selfies.

I must stress that I have nothing against social media and believe it can be of immense value if used wisely.

But as responsible users of social media we have a duty. We ought to be more discerning about what we validate through our likes.
Yes, even in passive scrolling through social media feed, we have the power to validate what we want more of and what we could do away with.

Maybe, we should admire pictures that were captured in the moment, without any kind of posing per se. We should laud pictures clicked by others, while the subject was doing something that was close to his heart, too engrossed to be worried about capturing the moment.

Yes, we might not have friends around all the time to capture the moment, but the selfie camera at times makes friends redundant!
Scary to imagine isn’t it!

The selfie camera should be used as a tool, in moderation, while being mindful that it doesn’t serve as a tool for self indulgence.

Coming back to the like button (thumbs up), remind yourself that you are setting a culture.
You are validating a stream of information.
You have the power to shape the discourse of social culture.

Choose wisely.
Like mindfully.