Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mother's Bedtime Story

Last night, after a hard day’s work, I went back home to Mother.
Laying my head in her lap I said, 
“Mother, tell me one of your bedtime stories.”

Stroking my hair gently, she said,
“Hush now. Go to sleep. It’s late already.”
But the child that I was, I insisted.
So she began.

“My child,
This is a story about you.
And you’ve heard it before.
But I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening again.”

I nodded quietly, already hushed into silence.
I was in awe of her, every time she began talking.

“This is the story of a Forest far, far away.
Now, this Forest was a perfect land.
Mind you, there is nothing absolutely perfect in this world.
But that Forest was…”

I listened, and my eyes opened wide with wonder.
I tried hard to imagine what a perfect land would be like.
Mother paused for a moment, and then continued,

“The morning sun rose to the far-away chirping of little birds,
High in the tall trees, snuggled together in their nests.
The rays were a soft golden-yellow,
And sparkled when they touched the dew drops
Hanging at the edge of the pointed leaves.

Sometime later, a cool wind started blowing slowly,
Shaking the green trees from their night-long slumber
And they stretched themselves awake,
As if waiting for this very moment

Down on the ground, far below the sky
Was the moist, brown earth held together by trees
Standing tall for centuries

The foliage of stems and leaves was so thick
That sunlight barely ever touched the ground

A gentle stream gurgled by,
Making perhaps the only sound in the Forest at this hour,
As clear water splashed into a pond,
And animals, small and large,
Came by for a drink early in the morn…”

I stopped breathing,
Lost in the poetry of this land

Indeed, this was a perfect Forest.
What could possibly go wrong?

What was this Story about?
And how was it My Story?

“But then something happened that day.
Something that changed that perfect Forest for ever…” continued Mother.

“You came there.
You came there with your large, noise-making machines and tree-cutting vehicles.
You mowed down the trees as if they were but clumps of grass.
You burned down the homes of these creatures as if they were but bundles of hay.”

“In moments, their perfect world shattered.” said Mother,
Her voice trembling slightly,
And eyes beginning to mist with heavy tears,

“Eggs dropped down to the ground in hundreds,
And little unborn birds were killed before they could see the light of day.
Little monkeys scurried about, scratching their heads,
Wondering where the branches had all gone.
Two young deer that had been gamboling about,
Were suddenly appalled to see an army of Men at their doorstep

The little stream dried up in days,
Leaves turned cracked and yellow and fell to the ground,
The brown, muddy earth was covered with the bones of large animals,
And flies, ants and vultures finished off the remains

“This is the story of a Forest far, far away.
Now, this Forest was a perfect land.
Mind you, there is nothing absolutely perfect in this world.
But that Forest was…”

“But today,
It is just a clearing at the edge of a city,
Growing larger and larger by the day

The only sign of a Forest that once was,
As perfect as it was,
Is a lone bird that flies to the edge of the clearing,
Every two or three days,
Wondering whether all this really happened,
 Or it was just a terrible dream.”

“But, my son, to tell you the truth,
This really happened.

This is happening right now, as I speak.
And this will continue to happen,
If you go to sleep now,
And don’t wake up.

This is a real story.
What are you going to do about it?”

Mother covered me in a blanket and was gone,
Leaving the last question hanging in the air

I lay awake all night,
Watching silver clouds drift across the moon,
And white stars playing hide and seek.

This is a story about Me.
This is a story about Us.

I’m sure we’ve heard it before,
Our Mother’s Bedtime Story...


 - Avinash Agarwal

Monday, June 28, 2010

Where has the Beauty gone...

Beauty has this strange quality about it.
It cannot be explained with words.

Beauty has got this aura of mystic power around it.
And there’s only one way you can experience it.

You have to let go and surrender, believing that it will carry you to someplace else, someplace new, someplace you’ve never been before, and someplace you might never go again.

There’s only one way you can experience beauty. You have to lose yourself...

Have you realized something?

When you go to the sea beach in the rain, and there’s a mix of cold water droplets from the air and foam from the sea brushing across your face, you close your eyes…

When you see a small baby, smelling sweetly of powder and cream, you lean in close to kiss its soft cheeks tenderly, and impulsively, you close your eyes…

When something hurts so badly in your chest that you feel your heart has been ripped open and is slowly oozing out thick blood, you feel a warm tear come to surface, and then, you close your eyes…

When you travel thousands of miles to a place of worship, elbow hundreds of people in the unruly crowd to get your place near the front, and when you have just ten seconds face to face with your Lord, you do NOT look at Him face to face. You close your eyes…

It’s not a foolish thing we do.
It’s not even in our control.
It’s perfectly natural.

Beauty has this strange quality about it.
It cannot be explained with words.

Beauty has got this aura of mystic power around it.
And there’s only one way you can experience it.

The beauty, the love and the happiness we pursue is all inside us.
We chase it madly in some place outside the world, believing it to be at the top of the highest mountain or at the bottom of the deepest sea.
We have gotten so used to believing that life is hard, tough and cruel that we think all the good things are hidden away somewhere, far beyond our reach.

Well, it’s partly true. All the good things are, indeed, hidden away somewhere.
And that is at the core of our own Beings. Only if we stop looking outside and hold on to ourselves for a moment can we catch a rare glimpse of it.

So You tell me.
Is it really out of reach? 

-Avinash Agarwal

The Miracle You Are About To Do

As you go ahead reading these words, a miracle will happen. Something so magical, so UNBELIEVABLE, that we won’t even recognize it for the miracle it is.

A thought will arise in your subconscious brain, a few electrical signals will be generated, they will travel across your body at lightning fast speed, and that simple thought will cause your entire hand to move. In short, you will scroll down the page.
Now, that’s no miracle, you would think. But slow down for a moment and ask yourself- what just happened? All it took was the power of one thought for your entire hand to move- cells, nerves, tissue and muscle. One thought, and that is all.
You would probably sit back and say, “Ha! There are so many fantastic things I can do, much more complex than moving my own hand. So are they all miracles?!”
And I say to you, “Yes. They are.”

We humans have evolved so much from that single celled organism billions of years ago that we feel ashamed to even look back and marvel at the simplicity of how life works. We don’t wake up to see the sunrise every morning because, “Who cares!? It happens every day!” 
But with this simple fragment of your mind, in that thin sliver of time called a millisecond, lies the base of all that is true and real in the world- a single thought.

Lately, there has been an explosion of work on this subject- quantum physics, lab experiments, psychological studies and loads of books. They all conclude one thing- that thoughts can change reality. It all sounds good on paper. But is it really possible?!
The basis of this principle is simple- Everything is Energy. Go back to your Grade 5, when you were first introduced to Science; atoms, molecules, solids, liquids and gases. The walls around us, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the stars in the sky we see. They are essentially made up of the same matter-atoms and molecules. And those atoms are nothing but empty spaces with small sub-atomic particles like electrons, protons, neutrons and others. In short, they are all energy.
The reason some things are solid, liquid, or gaseous, heavy or light, red or green color, is all because of the different energy frequencies they are in, i.e. different energy levels. So this establishes one fact firmly- Everything is Energy.

In the 21st century, human minds and its workings have become the favorite topic for experimentation for scientists and researchers. Experiments have been conducted on minds trained in meditation, in various environments- for example, a group of Tibetan monks, wearing just a thin cloth, meditating at freezing temperatures in the Himalayas, yet managing to keep their body temperature at normal.
How would one explain that? So, this question was taken into the laboratory- highly powerful detectors and instruments connected to the heads of these monks, and when they meditated, the readings were recorded. And the results shook the world of science.

Thoughts were found to be signals of energy emitted by the brain, at different frequencies. The mind was like a radio station that continuously emitted ‘thought-waves’ into the universe. And these little packets of energy we call thoughts are responsible for making the entire world around us, little by little, bit by bit.

There are a number of powerful sayings, like-
“If you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford
 “Ask and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened. Have faith, and you can move mountains.”- The Holy Bible
 “When you Believe, the whole universe conspires to fulfill your heart’s desire.” –Paulo Coelho

At the bottom of these very wise sayings, however, is one common message- “You are in control of your own life.”
The thoughts you think define the state of mind that you are in- happiness, hopelessness, inspiration, depression, love, hatred and so on. And every such thought affects the quality of the work you do, in every single moment of your life.

You will notice that the people who complain the most about disease, financial problems, family problems, are the ones who suffer from them. Life if full of problems like these, but the ones who can look upon these little problems as nothing but specks of dust on the beautiful canvas of our lives, and live each say smilingly, are the ones who are truly happy.

Keep the big picture of your life in mind. Your whole life doesn’t revolve around the irritating neighbor, or the headache you have, or the ups and downs you are having.
There’s much more to life than just that.

We look at people who’ve achieved greatness, who’re living legends, and who seem to believe lives that we can only dream of. And we think, “Wow! They're so lucky! I can never be like them!” That’s when you kill yourself.

Don’t forget. Thoughts are the beginning. If you’re afraid to even think or dream of something, how will you ever change the world?
Get a grip on yourself.
Stop blaming the world for what’s going on in your life.
It’s all in your Hands. It’s all in your Mind.

You’re the sculptor making your own Masterpiece every moment of your life.
And the Masterpiece is You.

So set your goals. Dream for the Impossible.
Know that everything you wish for will come true.
There is nothing in the world that can come in Your way. Except You…

- Avinash Agarwal
(Based on my learnings from 'The Secret' by Rhonda Byrne)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A New Earth

When I close my eyes,
I picture the first rays of dawn,
A time when light breaks free,
And triumphs over all hopelessness…

I see the clouds,
Glowing with a yellow touch,
And the golden sun peeping from behind

I see a jasmine- tender, white and soft,
Begin to unfold within me,
Like that of a baby’s palm
Opening to curl over a father’s forefinger;

The jasmine opens up and looks around,
Like a baby’s eyes fill with love, at the sight of her mother;
Like that of a baby’s heart, resounding with the pulse of a new life;
Unexplainable, isn’t it?

Today, for once, I let go.
I let the flower curl out, and allow myself to feel no fear.
As sunshine beams on the heart of my flower,
Slowly opening its white petals,
Small droplets of dew perch fragilely at their tip,
As if ready to fall with the sound of a single whisper…

As this flower opens up, its love seems to spread all through my being,
It breaks free from all the bondages of my mortal body,
And sets sail with the wind, catching the colors outside;

The Sun God seems to nod in approval, and flowers then bloom everywhere.
White, tender, and so soft…

In every heart they bloom,
In every pair of eyes they light up a sparkle,
In every pair of lips they break into smiles of joy, and unconditional love.
Unexplainable, isn’t it?

The sky turns bright blue as this perfect day goes on,
And then the ground starts turning green
Brown sand breaks open like sprouting seeds,
And roads are covered with carpets of green grass…

Barriers are broken, fences fall down, and walls start crumbling gradually,
One after another, in perfect symphony,
 Just like a pianist turns the pages of his book,
Without losing touch of the keys…

Cars stop moving, people drop their worries and stop their hustle, for
Paradise has come

When the Wind sees this, it bows in reverence.
It borrows the cold from the lakes and seas, and blows across the surface of the earth,
Healing wounds,
Bringing peace,
Feeding the hungry,
Blessing the newborn,
Painting smiles here and there,
Unexplainable, isn’t it?

Trees grow, as does the grass,
Lions roar, and deer run away,
Waves break on rocks, playfully,
But these are everyday affairs, isn’t it?

The real miracle happens,
When Man looks up,
And sunlight touches his eyes, as if for the first time,

Sunlight touches the eyes of Man, who never saw,
The blue of the sky in all that smoke,
The shapes of the clouds from his tall buildings,
Or heard the songs of the birds over his noise
Today, he is born again;
Unexplainable, isn’t it?

Just like ants gather,
After a hard days’ work,
To the shelter of their home tree,
Men gather, women gather, children gather,
All One in the yellow light, the blue wind, and green shade;

That, is my picture of a new Earth

Explainable, isn’t it?!

-Avinash Agarwal

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Movie called Life

Once Lord Yama, the Hindu God of Death asked Yudishthir, “What is the most amazing thing in the world?” to which he replied, “Everyday, we see hundreds of people dying and suffering. Yet, we refuse to believe that it could happen to us. And we continue to live our lives foolishly and recklessly, believing that we are going to live forever. That is the most amazing thing in the world.” Indeed, Yudishthir was the wisest person of his time...

Life is beautiful. But where does the beauty of this life lie? In material happiness? In money? Fame? Or Power? I think, in none of the above.The most beautiful part of life is that it never comes back. It is short, it is unexpected and it is unpredictable.

Just imagine. What if you had your whole life in front of you like a book or a very long movie? What if you knew about every minute, every hour, every single day of your life before it happened? Would you really enjoy it? I don’t think so. You would go through it like a boring routine, feeling none of the joy as you do now, in living with a holy curiosity.

Don’t you enjoy it when halfway through summer, there is a sudden downpour of rain and the sweet smell of wet mud seeps in through your window?! Don’t you love it when an old friend of yours suddenly calls you up one boring afternoon and you chat for hours about ‘those good old days’?!    

Don’t you feel like bursting with happiness when your family gives you a surprise on your birthday and you open that wrapping paper on the gift not knowing what to expect? Come to think of it, would you really like to know all of this before it happened?

Then are those who wish they were immortal. Some wish they had a very, very long life. Really? Are you sure? Would you really like to live for 800 hundred years until you become a walking-talking vegetable, with creaking bones and aching muscles?

Life moves on in different phases- Infancy, Childhood, Youth, Adulthood and Old Age. But the two most important phases that no one really thinks of are Birth and Death.They are the most vital for maintaining the balance of nature. And they are deeply interlinked.

When born, the first thing a baby does is cry out loud. Naturally! It is being pushed out of the comfortable home it has been living on for the past nine months into the unknown world. Wouldn’t you cry too?! In a way, it is Death. The shackles of a known world are being broken, and it is emerging into the unknown. When you die, you transcend life and go into another realm. It is a new birth. And it is much grander than life itself. Our souls know it.

Birth and Death signify change. They remove the old and bring in the new. If you were to live forever, none of this would have happened.

The most beautiful part of life is that it never comes back. It is short, it is unexpected and it is unpredictable.

Stop wishing you could live forever.
Stop wishing you could turn back time and live ‘that day’ once more. 
Stop losing yourself in the Past that is now History, or in the Future that is still a Mystery.
The present is a Gift. Enjoy it. It lasts only for a moment. And it’s never coming back.
Take risks, push yourself harder, and make every moment bigger than it is.

Most of all, have the courage to dream about the Impossible, knowing that if you can think it could happen, you can also make it happen.I remember this amazing quote from an Adidas Advertisement-

"Impossible is just a Big Word thrown about by Small Men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is Temporary. Impossible is Potential.
Impossible is Nothing. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE."

Don’t forget that one day, just before you close your eyes for the last time, your whole life is going to play in front of you, moment by moment. It will be the Ultimate Movie you make- the Movie that you are filming even at this moment- The Movie called Life.

Make sure its Worth Watching! 

Poison- Part 2

(This is a continuation of Poison- Part 1. To read, please Click Here )

Instinctively, I calculated- one lap to go, and I was fifth at that moment. I felt a rush of pain as I pushed with all my might, and my legs suddenly began thrashing wildly of their own accord. I loved this pain.
“Poison,” Coach called it. “It’s Lactic Acid that brings the pain. It causes the burning sensation in your muscles during work out. But remember, that after the race, the pain and the acid’s long gone. It’s only your victory that still remains.”

Now, as I battled my demons, I could feel searing hot lactic acid spreading all through my blood. I didn’t know what it looked like, but I imagined it to be steaming hot and white. My insides burned. There were seconds to go, and every thought counted. A little more poison, I thought to myself, and a little more edge.
As different shades of blue crashed around me- dark blue when I looked down, light blue when my head was pointing straight ahead, and a flashing whitish-blue when I looked up to breathe, I saw I had raced one place ahead. I was fourth. And there were about sixty meters to go. More poison, I said to myself.

Sure enough, the poison inside became hotter, and I moved faster. Another one down, I thought, as I looked from the corner of my eye to move in to third place. About forty meters to go…

But everything has a price, isn’t it? The poison started taking me over, and I felt everything go white. Now I was no longer in control. I could still see the finish rope through the water, and I knew I was still in the game. Third, I told myself.

With a final rush, I felt a last dose of poison injected, and moving faster than I could ever remember, I sliced through what was left of the water and my hands touched marble. It was over!

I shot out of the water, breathless and panting uncontrollably. I could feel my heart pounding against the walls of my chest, bursting to come out of its prison. I was suddenly overwhelmed with noise as I realized I could hear again. There was tumultuous applause. I got out of the water, and amidst stopwatches, coaches ticking off printed sheets of paper, more applause, and the dejected, tired faces of the other swimmers, I felt the poison had paid off. I had won.

“Second place!” came a booming voice from behind me, and I turned to see Coach standing there with his arms crossed. He didn’t smile. Nor did he frown.

“Tell me something. Do you know why horses wear blinds?” he asked, coming in closer.
Puzzled, I shook my head, still panting hard.

“Horses wear blinds…,” started Coach, in his preaching voice, “…so they can run their own race. To hell with the others!” he said through gritted teeth, motioning to the others with a jerk of his head.

I bent my head ashamedly. So he had seen it all. Twice I had wasted precious milliseconds when I looked at the other swimmers. I hadn’t really raced my race, had I?

“But second place…” he added as an afterthought, “…Congratulations!” suddenly breaking into a smile as if forgiving this blunder for once, he covered me in a bear-hug and burst out laughing.

Twenty minutes later, as I stood with my silver medal, I waved and smiled to the others. Then, I looked at the gold medal as it gleamed brightly on the winner’s chest beside me, and I said to myself, “Next time…it’s my poison. And it’s my race.”
- Avinash Agarwal

Poison- Part 1

I breathed. I blinked. Then I breathed again. My breaths came in shallow, painful mouthfuls. My eyelids tried to close down, and I could feel my mind wanting to give way. It seemed to be flickering between two worlds- the reality that was, and the other, what it wanted reality to be. Gritting my teeth, I pressed on, knowing fully well it was up to me how I let this end.

The last lap of the pool meant more than the previous three put together. Every broken second counted. I had been practicing this part for weeks, for I knew that this was my one weakness. I could hear the voice of my coach bellowing over the slapping of the water against my head as I would swim on, lap after lap, late into the night, with only the blurry yellow lights inside the pool to guide me on.

“The last lap, the last lap!” he screamed furiously, every time my head burst out through the surface of the water, to steal a breath and then plunge in again. I was tiring fast. It was almost over anyway. I could see past the remaining length of the pool to where my finishing point was. After three hours of swimming and workouts, the speed laps were the toughest to endure, every time. And this little bit, towards the end, still got tougher. Just half a length more, I would say to myself, my muscles willing to give away with pain any moment now. It would be over soon, though never to Coach’s satisfaction. But not today…Oh no, not today!

All I had done today before the race was stretching and ten minutes of warm ups. Yet, as I stood near the edge of the water, waiting for the shrill whistle to pierce through the hush of the hundreds gathered there, I was overcome by fatigue. Eight weeks of sweat and pain, three hours a day, and continuous abuses from Coach that felt like hot iron rods on my already-bruised ego.

It all went numb when the whistle sounded, and my body automatically responded. It was a machine now, knowing fully well what to do. I sliced through the surface of the still, chilly water with a smooth dive, and from then on, I only knew water. Water in front of my eyes blocking my sight, in my ears cutting out all sound, in my nose not allowing me to breathe, and all around me… It was the only world I knew now.

What had been still water less than a second ago was now pulsating with the energy of eight swimmers pushing against it fiercely, each competing only against one common foe-the water. It weighed down their muscles, slowed their pace, and most of all, sapped away the desire to win when fatigue hit them head-on. But that was the joy of it; being one with water, understanding its laws of buoyancy, and using them to advantage.

For me, this was home. One, two and three…the first three laps went by exactly as Coach and I had planned. I was quick, but controlled. As I finished third and rebounded against the wall for my fourth and last, I gambled a second to look beside me to see I was third. But that look had cost me dear. I was now fifth.
This being the last lap, I knew that like me, everyone else would be in top gear, for speed was priority. Speed was my strength, always, right from the beginning. But never in the last lap…

This post is Continued. To read further please Click Here...)

Another Day in Paradise...

Heaven is sparkling white, sometimes tinted with a little yellow reflected by the sun. But heaven is a good place. There is peace.

The wind blows through golden fields, caressing the ears of corn and wheat as it softly whistles by. And sometimes, the wind goes round in circles between the trees, as if playing with the young soft leaves growing on the branches.

The brown earth is moist with dew all day long. Ripe seeds burst into seedlings every few days, scattered here and there. Small creatures of land gambol about, not really looking for anything to eat. They like gamboling about, that’s why they gambol about.

At night, sometimes, when there is a full moon above, it appears much closer than it actually is. So big, that it seems like a silver orb perched on top of the highest tree. You could almost touch it, some day. The moon likes to hide behind large, snowy white clouds sometimes. And when creatures of the night come out in the open darkness in full splendor, the moon comes out again. Seeing the shy night creatures scamper for shade, the moon laughs at the little trick. It works every time!

Heaven is a happy place.

Just beyond the largest tree there is a glade, a clearing. It is a huge, near perfect circle. There were higher creatures that used to live there, a long time ago. But now they have gone. Moved away to other places, maybe

So the glade is now empty.

A river flows quietly at the edge of the clearing. The river has water. And the water gurgles and bubbles all along the way. Sometimes, it makes splashing sounds. Sometimes, it makes slapping sounds. But apart from that, the river usually stays very quiet.

There is a throbbing that always happens, very softly. It is like a gentle pulse. It is nature’s heartbeat. Nature is happy here. For heaven is a happy place. It is a peaceful place.

Heaven happens every time you close your eyes, and forget about you. It happens when you listen to the sound of silence. Heaven happens when you breathe in, and fill yourself with the entire universe. And when you breathe out, you dissolve into nothingness.

Heaven happens when you give yourself a rest, put yourself to sleep and then wake up in another land.

You don’t go looking for heaven. Heaven comes to you when you are ready. You are not ready until you are ready.

Heaven happens when the little child in you stops pulling you back, asking you for something. Heaven happens when the little child inside you curls up to sleep on its side, wrapping itself up in its own arms, knees curled up to its chest. And when that child is smiling a slight, shy smile in its sleep, you’ll know you’re in heaven.

Heaven is sparkling white, sometimes tinted with a little yellow reflected by the sun. But heaven is a good place.

There is peace…

- Avinash Agarwal

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Truth About India

India stinks. It’s a wreck of a place.
It’s nothing more than a lump of poor houses built with mud and plastered with cow dung. It’s nothing more than a bunch of filthy rich, power hungry, immoral creatures running the wheel of ‘democracy’. It’s nothing more than a sad little chicken that has been trying to stand up on its feet for the past three fourths of a century, in vain. In fact, it’s nothing more than a sad excuse of a miserable piece of land in the name of a ‘country’.
That’s India.

The 'holy' Ganga

It’s a land that has mystified the world for centuries with its splendid tales of wealth and beauty. And when wide eyed tourists step onto the shores of this country, they are ripped off, robbed and raped. No other questions asked.

It’s a land that has been ‘poised’ for the leap for decades now; it’s been ‘developing’ for years now; it’s been liberalized, privatized, globalized and in every way, thoroughly sanitized. Yet the streets of its financial capital, Mumbai, are choked with the stench of overflowing gutters, heaps of garbage, and sometimes, the remains of immobile ‘citizens’ themselves.

It’s a land where the man and the woman who vote are nothing more than helpless, frustrated spectators of bomb blasts and terror attacks; justice just cries out silently for mercy from under the shackles of an omnipotent bureaucracy.
That’s India.

The 'road' to development

I wish I could leave right now. I wish I could grow wings and fly away to some far-off country in the glorious west. Or that I could grow fins and swim to some nearer country in the east that is smaller but happier.
But I can’t.

I can’t leave India.

Not after I’ve heard all the sounds on the streets- the mad honking, the screaming of drivers, the crying of hawkers, the mooing of cows, the barking of dogs and the cursing of fisher women. For I know, that beneath all that, there is a child waiting to go back home from school into the open arms of his grandmother. There is a husband who is going to make his wife’s day unforgettable by giving her half a garland of small, white flowers.
There is a working woman hurrying back home after buying vegetables for dinner that night. There is a college student on her way to coaching classes for the next six and a half hours. She has to top the entrance examinations. It’s her parents’ dream.

India Tomorrow

I can’t leave India.

Not after I’ve seen glimpses of life in the village- the half-starved bullocks tilling the land, a toddler suffering at home from malnutrition, the sweat gleaming on a farmer’s forehead as he works in the field, an aged Brahmin marrying off a man and a woman who have never met each other in their life. For I know, these folk still find happiness in the splashing of water in the muddy rivers. They still enjoy rolling a bicycle wheel with a thin stick because willow bats are too expensive. In the age of the internet and computer, they gather around an 80 year old man around a bonfire on a starlit night to hear fantastic stories about ‘those days’.

I can’t leave India.

Not after I’ve seen the colors and sounds and lights of celebration all around me. For I know, there is no other place in the world that would open its arms to a complete stranger and let him become a part of their life. There is no other place where complete strangers become family after dancing with a baraat in the middle of a narrow gully, their feet jumping in tune with the sound of drums and the blowing of shehnais.
If there’s such a land that breathes, throbs with life and feels emotions more humane than us humans, it’s this land called India.

If there’s such a land whose sons and daughters have willingly given away their lives for it, regretting only the fact that they had but one life to sacrifice at her altar, it’s this land called India.

If there’s such a land whose soil, whose water and whose air at first breath become a part of you, and make you an inseparable part of them, it’s this land called India.

So go on. Go and choose to live your life in the ‘glorious’ west or the ‘mystic’ east, whichever seems more promising. You may hate or love that distant land called India that seems to be wriggling in a puddle of mud of its own making. But you can’t ignore it. You can’t get it out of your system.

Because, ironically, it’s only in these muddy puddles that the flowering of a ‘thousand-petalled lotus’ happens. The other places just grow flowers. That’s my India.

The Wonder of the World

-Avinash Agarwal