Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spiritual Moment with a Mango

I had a strange experience while consuming a mango last year (or maybe a year before that). It was evening, I felt mild pangs of hunger and I remembered nice luscious mangoes bought by Gyani. I took one out, washed and peeled it with a knife as Gyani does. The golden yellow fruit with its intoxicating aroma was so inviting that I couldn't wait to cut it (ironically, it had taken a longer time to peel) and sunk my teeth into its sweet flesh. 

The moment its divine juice flooded my mouth was orgasmic. I must have eaten hundreds or thousands of mangoes but never quite like the one which was exploding bliss in my mouth. I felt blessed by the god of taste. 

Suddenly I felt guilty for savouring the heavenly fruit all alone without sharing with anybody. I did the next best thing. I closed my eyes... with each bite I remembered everyone - family, friends - one by one with a silent prayer "the sweetness I am experiencing, let it sweeten the minds and spirits of everyone." I remembered dad, mom, my siblings, their families, my friends, their families and their families. With the last bite, exhilaration filled my being.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Musical Palace

Before the television laid seige to our home, our family went to the gardens of Mysore Palace every Sunday evening. Mom, dad, my sisters (Rekha, Uma and little Manji), my kid brother (Chinni) and myself were walking from our house to that of Prince's (well, he lived just two roads across, you know.)

There we took our usual place beside the Shveta Varahaswamy temple and sprawled across its green lawns, in front of the most beautiful edifice of Mysore, the pride of all Mysoreans. As the dusk faded into darkness people poured in more numbers. Peddlers of peanut (hurida kadalekayi), chakke mithayi (chikki, peanut-jaggery candy) and masala puri (masala mandakki) swarmed the place and we kids had a gala time eating.

At 7 pm sharp as if by magic the entire structure of the palace lit up with thousands of light bulbs stitched along its silhouette. The crowd let out a loud gasp of excitement (that excitement hasn't waned for me even today) and it was as if we have been transported to a fairy land of golden light.

Simultaneously music would crackle in from innumerable loudspeakers hoisted atop lamp posts across the lawns. The divine music gave an ethereal feel to the atmosphere. Invariably one particular song would be played every week.

Even after 20-25 years when I hear that song I feel as if I am back in that chaotic fairy idyll. I was under the wrong impression that it was composed only to mirror the grandeaur of the palace (I was not aware of its lyrics as I had heard only the instrumental version of the song).

That song is 'Raghuvamsha Sudha' in 'Kadanakutuhala' Raga, 'Adi' tala and was composed by 'Patnam Subramnia Iyer'.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Butterfly (Fish) Effect

I just watched a programme 'Preserve Our Planet' on National Geographic Channel in which they showed how the well being of fish is linked to our planet's well being.

First they showed the link between disappearing animals in the forests of Ghana to the depleting fish population in its sea waters. This has also caused the population of baboons to increase manifold thus creating havoc in the forest ecosystem there.

Later the focus shifted to a mysterious phenomenon in a small stretch of coastal Namibia. A nasty smell engulfs the coast with the sea waters changing colours and finally hordes and hordes of dead fish washing ashore. A marine biologist is intrigued by the phenomenon and choses to look deeper into the source while others turn a blind eye. She discovers that phytoplanktons in the sea waters, when dead, fall to the sea bed. Over years a thick layer of these dead phytoplankton is formed on the sea bed. This layer decays releasing hydrogen sulphide along with methane. When the concentration of methane has reached a critical level, the layer of dead planktons burst like a bomb releasing methane and H2S gas. The H2S gas suffocates the nearby shoals of fish, also the sulphur changes the water colour. One who has studied chemistry will obviously know how nasty is the smell of hydrogen sulphide - like that of rotting eggs. The resutling release of methane contributes heavily towards global warming.

Well, fish feed on phytoplanktons. Since the fish population is dwindling, phytoplanktons thrive in large numbers and litter the sea bed, when dead. This is observed in Namibia because the country is one among the top most fishing countries in the world. It won't be long before similar marine tragedies occur elsewhere if mindless fishing is not checked in time.

Moral of the story - Protect fish to protect our planet, our home.