Jumping Off Of Cliffs

I have a minor case of acrophobia (fear of heights). I realized this at the age of 10 when I was at a friend’s house on the 12th floor in Mumbai and was looking straight down. The world seemed to tilt and all of a sudden I had the feeling that the building was sagging, that we were all falling uncontrollably, to meet the earth. I took a step back and have always maintained this distance.

The reason my acrophobia is minor is because I truly enjoy climbing. I love vistas and the journey often endeavored to get to that point. I oft find myself inching towards the edge – taking a quick look down – and then running back to the safety of a hilly plateau.

Kuang Si Waterfalls, Laos where I hugged a rope swing to jump in

I also love jumping – off of cliffs, waterfalls, bridges. Granted the stark height is less of an issue here and I am breaking no new ground, my internal conflict before jumping off of each edge grasps me. That moment, when on tiptoes I stand looking down at the turquoise of a deep water pool, I struggle. Each and Every Time. Getting up to that cliff, to that rope, to that ledge is never the issue. All that involves is walking and following another person who has just gone before me. And then my turn arrives – the world closes. My mind wrestles between “Just Do It” and “Are You Serious?” I stand there as if the time has stopped, the world has stopped moving and it’s just me, my mind, and the water below. I do not know what that water holds – to me, my experience – that depth is entirely unknown, completely unfamiliar. Yes, I saw the person before me jump into the same and emerge just fine. But this is my fear, my perception.  Eventually each and every time, I feel will power slowly come in to render a decision. Determined – I go.

I don’t close my eyes, I forget the consequences, I leave my fear behind. And I drop, engulfed within microseconds by the cool arms of the once seemingly treacherous water. Waves of exhilaration and accomplishment soon follow and I glance a look back up at the stable ground that I just left and all I have left with me is a smile.

Oft, living life requires a similar debate and a similar determination. It is always tempting to choose an easy path – often at the sacrifice of doing something that one might have loved but one that required time, effort. In these cases, life soon becomes monotonous – the flavor evaporates, the color fades. Therefore, it is always important to wake yourself up – to dive, jump, run – and start beating once again.

Cenote in Cancun, MX that I jumped off of

Cenote in Cancun, MX whose dark waters I jumped into

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Of Dawn and Youth

Dawn in Kampala, Uganda

Dawn in Kampala, Uganda

Some Ramblings to quieten an occupied mind.

There is something magical about dawn. When the night is not ready to quite let go and yet slowly, but surely, lets its darkness be chided into giving way. Dawn is the waking up of one’s soul to the offerings of the oncoming day. It is a slow realization – as if the universe understands that one can’t just be jolted on towards the blinding brightness of the sun.

While dawn brings hope – twilight is the pinching out of the day’s fire. In twilight – I see the End. I feel death. I feel sorrow.

Dawn – possibilities, optimism, expectation.  Perhaps I find myself gravitating towards dawn because I run from twilight. I want to continue living in my youth. I want to have that same sparkle in the eye, that same amazed look that I used to hold whenever I encountered something new. I don’t want the newness of things to diminish. I do not want to become seasoned or wearied by the sameness of things. I remember there used to be point in my youth when I cried out against monotony. It wasn’t in my rolling stone nature to be monotonous. While I still inherently believe that and seek change almost on a daily basis, I realize that I am much more content when in the routine. I find myself looking forward to future days when I will be in in routine domestic life with whoever my life partner will be. There is a certain level of comfort that I now find in stability and in sameness. I am turning old. This is what growing up and accepting (not yet, embracing) adulthood feels like. It’s almost as if my mind was tuned to change perspectives upon the clock striking 26 in my life. I did an almost about-turn.

I am still driven – I still find sweet pleasure in life. The deepest level of happiness, however, is gained not by actual experiences but just by sitting silently and steadfastly in the arms of an unchanging and beautiful nature. Golden leaves, turquoise oceanic waters, purple dahlias. And that’s the other thing Dawn is to me – the emergence of colorful nature from the velvety, indigo folds of the night. 

Encounters: Ma vie, c’est la vie

Encounters

(written May 2009)

“Sometimes you just need a person in your life and they do that bit and you move on, but for that time its the most important person and its great to have the feeling as it energizes you and makes you feel good”

-Rachna Dushyant Singh

 Chance encounters. Memorable words. Poignant moments. The world turns. Fading. Forgetting. Leaving.

So many faces met over the course of last year. Lasting impressions. Tons of personalities clashed and bonded with over few cups of tea or beer or dessert. And the clock hands move, dirty dishes taken away, bill paid, and you move on.

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in this new environment, where each fends for himself with no parental figure constantly protecting you from The World, is that sometimes you meet, make merry, and then part ways. All over the course of a mere meal even. The essence of the experience is in getting to know people just for a particular moment. Be this moment 5 minutes or 5 weeks long. And then you move on to the next set of chance encounters and memorable words.

I am still trying to figure out this odd way of bonding. I cannot fathom why people would go to the effort of meeting and sharing lives with others who they might see only that night. It is hard for me to not feel a pang of regret as goodbyes are said, while at the same time, making a mental promise of keeping touch. I cannot see why one would just let the flow take them farther downstream from the person they’ve just left behind, and not make the effort to swim countercurrent so that they can relive again the sheer enjoyment that the meeting brought them with the possibility of the one moment turning into long days of lazy happiness.

However, I am warming up to this notion, increasingly, as life puts me at the epicenter of such meetings. I’d initially failed to see that not only are such meetings enjoyable due to the nature of their uniqueness, they are crucial in the life lessons they teach. It’s an idea that took a while for me to arrive at. It took me a while to see such unnatural encounters in a positive light. I used to turn my mind over and over again, trying to get to the crux of the issue and not really seeing that the relationships were to be savored in just those choice moments. That those moments, despite their short lengths, were capable to teach a soul lessons that a 10-year friendship might fail to. Beyond these valuable messages, they introduce a person to new ideas, feelings, experiences, thus broadening one’s knowledge of what life has to offer.

Looking back to my last year, so many standout moments were those spent with what I am terming “5-minute friends.” Conversing with someone about his life spent on a traveling circus, meeting a photographer who’d spent a year in Iraq as part of the U.S. Army, connecting with another kindred soul over a shared take on life. All of these single moments, with “5-minute friends” left deep footprints in my mind and in my path of life.

Each person, a planet in his or her own orbit, crosses path sometimes with another’s orbit.

But ultimately, the set path of the orbit beckons and each has to go his or her merry which way. Departing with sweetness (or sadness), but nonetheless leaving a small dent in the other they bumped into. And thus life continues and chance encounters keep happening and we should learn how to embrace them and not hold the planet from continuing its course. Live, learn, move on.


A Star Diffussed

I’ve never cried for a celebrity who passes away. Sure – celebrity deaths (Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse) have taken me by shock or surprise – but I’ve never cried.

Today I did. And I cannot stop.

There was just something about Steve Jobs passing away that hit home. He lived his life – every moment of it – but he went beyond. He lived it in a way that left an impact on those who didn’t even know him. He inspired people to achieve, he inspired people to dream, he taught a company how to fly. Today – especially realized through the Facebook Feeds spanning generations –  I know that a true visionary has left the planet.  And the World is short one excellent human being. Our lives are a little less brighter

Why did it hit home so strongly? Perhaps it is because I strive living my life the way he did – I aspire to grow not just personally, living every minute, but to also leave an impact on the people and lives I touch.

Perhaps it struck a chord because he was only 56 – 3 years older than my father. Currently, starting my summer internship search at Kellogg, life has become all about career achievements. Mr. Jobs achieved this and a whole lot more. He also balanced an interesting, but ultimately strong, personal life. And yet, the clock ran out. Think about all that he could have done – think how richer our World would be had he been in it for 20-30 years more. So, you wonder about this futile Rat Race that we are all running; these goals that we are all setting and you cannot help but sometimes pause and ask, “To What End?”

Steve Jobs provides the answer through his living: To the end that when your star diffuses, you leave an imprint on Earth that can be remembered through the years. And through that itself – you live on. Your Legacy continues. And you achieve Greatness.

I will miss you Mr.Jobs. I didn’t know it until this moment just how deeply you had enriched and touched my life.

~ Stay hungry, Stay Foolish ~

Summer’s Twilight in Vermont

Blast from the past:

Same time last year – late August 2010 – I had taken a solo roadtrip to sightsee New Hampshire and Vermont on a weekend. The reason I did it was because somehow, in my heart, I knew that my time in New England was coming to an end within a year. It was a wonderful, enriching trip. Beautiful Vistas. Cool Waters. Warm Sun. 

I had written this piece during that time. It’s fun reading it this year – looking back and remembering the uncertainty that existed in my life at that moment. 

—-

I know that I am going to look back on this afternoon and wonder, life was full of possibilities then – did they ever become realities? Perhaps at that juncture in life, they might have remained possibilities and I got lost in finding my way to realize them. Perhaps though, that when I look back to this moment, I might try to taint my then reality to measure at least some form of success.

The Greens of Vermont

I am sipping a perfectly blended iced-coffee, with a taste of Vermont, of Maple Syrup, in its flavor. And I am composing this entry, sitting on a shaded porch, in a dusty armchair, looking onto vast farmlands and beautiful, picturesque rolling hills. Life cannot be more peaceful than it is at this very moment. I cannot be more at ease than I am right now – with no immediate deadline and just wallowing in a vacation phase and darkening under the glory of Summer’s last sun.

I had thought that this trip would be one that was reflective, a trip that would open up my mind and ideas to get started on those pending essays that will decide the future of my career. Instead, it has turned out to be one where I seem to be withholding my foray into an ambitious future and instead, immersing myself into the last of my carefree days.

I am no longer young. 24 is the emerging of adulthood and I have to leave behind my early twenty, exploratory, hippie spirit. This trip, then perhaps, was a last hurrah. I know that I cannot afford many more of these. At least not until I have a good, future path set in stone. This is for the benefit of my life after all – I don’t want to wake up and suddenly realize that I am 30 and still musing over what to put in my personal statement for M.B.A. school.

Yet –once the planned, (if realized) future gets into place and I find myself successful, will I be happy? Or will I miss these days of the carefree, when my spirit had finally woken up to all the beauty that Living has to offer.

I am single. I travel alone. And still, I continue to be blissfully, pleasantly happy. It is only then that I glance up, smiling and lost in my sense of self, that I am jarred back into this reality as I realize Time’s ever-ticking presence. It truly stops for no man.

So, I say, make the most out of these days but they are my last foray into running wild and unhindered as I need to now, heavy-heartedly but with a finality, plan for the future and jump into it without regrets and without looking behind.

To Youth. To Freedom. To Life.

Written outside of Jeffersonville, VT at Brown & Jenkins Coffee. Pure Bliss. And what a view!

View from Brown & Jenkins Coffee Shop

My Anthem

Baawara mann dekhne chala ek sapna
Crazy heart set out to see a dream

~

Reflect upon life and ensure that you capitalize on living every moment. It is only when you do this that you know that you have lived. Never have regrets and be free of fears. Pursue the dreams that your heart wishes. Pursue growth. Pursue happiness. Pursue freedom.

Have an optimism, have an equal sparkle for both the simple and complex things. An enthusiasm about life – your life – will inspire visions and thoughts even in the dullest of places.

Be an Individual. Be courageous enough to break from the Circle and explore outside your comfort zones. It is only then that you will experience a life that is so preciously colorful and amazingly vibrant. You will meet people from all walks – persons you would have never met. You would envision things from all layers of society, from multiple angles. Experiences would be drastic, dramatic even. Living will suddenly have a new meaning. You will have lived. You would have given rise to dormant aspects of yourself.

To achieve this – it is not so much  about Travel as it is about Interacting with the tactile, wonderful elements about you. One can see the world and still not have grown, lived if all one did was just see the world.

Do it early – do it practically. But Live.

Ever since I was introduced to the Latin phrase that added a meaning to my thoughts, it has become a heartbeat to my very being:

Carpe Diem

~*~

A Sensory Take on Bangkok

Swatdee Kaa (Hello in Thai)!

I did this for my NYU Stern essay and I have done it prior (subconsciously) and now I actually consciously realize that I do it all the time: I analyze things by categorizing them according to how they appeal to my different senses, ultimately combining the senses to deliver a final response. For my NYU essay, for example, I dissected my personality and self according to senses (e.g. The sense of hearing was conveyed by an attached CD with sounds that defined me).

 

Therefore, let’s dissect Bangkok accordingly.

 

Taste: Being the food-lover that I am, I have to start with the taste. The taste of Bangkok is eclectic and original. It is best enjoyed through maneuvering a cramped street replete with street vendors selling anything from Rambutan (a lichee-like tropical fruit) to the staple Pad Thai. The concept of street food is almost similar to that of Spanish Tapas – you go from vendor to vendor, eating small portions of their speciality until you find yourself full. The overall flavour is a blend of Sweet, Tangy, and Spicy. There is much, too much to write about food – an altogether new blog entry later.

Smell: The smell of Bangkok is heavily dependent on food (Thais, more than tourists, love eating out as the price of food here – especially that of the street – is ridiculous cheap). The smoky kebabs mix with the darkness of coffee. There isn’t a pungent stink (as is common sometimes in India) and the people smell surprisingly neutral (despite the heat). With Bangkok being very much a city –  the smells come coated in a thin layer of smog.

See: There is a ton to see in Bangkok – ranging from the historic (and surprisingly ornate and beautifully maintained) Wats (temples), sparkling in the afternoon sun to the zig-zaggy streets that by day sell cheap souvenirs and by night sell cheap souvenirs. Sometimes called as Venice of the East due to muddy canals that we just found are also home to some grotesque animals (i.e. wild Komodo Dragons).

Hear: I find it personally odd being in a place that sounds a lot like India – with names  rooted in Sanskrit – and being completely unable to neither understand nor pronounce the language. The Thais are also very quiet and speak softly. The voices, in turn, are drowned out by the wheels of the motors and the tuk-tuks (rickshaws) that dot the city. Blaring horns, however, are not common at all.

Touch: It is HOT! Not as humid as Mumbai but blisteringly hot. The sun beats down on my tourist skin with relish – turning me a shade darker every time it spots me. June is not supposed to be a summer month here (it signals the start of the Monsoon), so the heat is also somewhat unexpected. When it rains – there is a coolness in the air – but as soon as the rain stops, the heat is back with a vengeance.

 

Bangkok, my gateway into all things South East Asian, has served as an amazing starting point. I am thoroughly excited to immerse myself further into the East Asian culture and dig deeper to understand the nature of the people and their culture better. It also helps tremendously to be introduced into the city by a friend who has lived in Thailand for the last few months and can help to maneuver around the tourist traps!