Monday, December 29, 2008


Coming home to Abu Dhabi the last 5 days have been complete indulgence. Abu Dhabi is the capital emirate of the desert kingdom of United Arab Emirates, 180 km from its more famed cousin, Dubai. Although the economy here is literally fuelled by oil, this place is full of shops and restaurants and more shops. Pleasant past memories keep coming back as i did my schooling from 8th to 12th here. 

I arrived on the 23rd night and dad, mum and tanvi were here to pick me. Tanvi was sweet enough to arrange a Starbucks blueberry cheesecake for the welcome, which she later ate. Home has been overhauled completely with a brand new 46 inch
 Samsung HDTV, and new furniture. It all seemed very impressive when entering. Mum, dad and tanvi were concerned with the weight loss as usual. Thursday was the day of our Abu Dhabi satsang, and around a 100 devotees were at Mr Menon's place at 7 pm. Deepa (Menon) is here with her husband Kartik and they have been doing amazing seva in washington DC. Deepa is busy organizing big AOL events in US while Kartik is teaching there. The satsang was nice. 

Day 3 was a shopping trip to Dubai. The roads are amazing so we covered 180 kms to dubai in 1.5 hours. We had a nice multi-cuisine lunch covering papaya salad (thai), grilled haloumi (lebanese), submarine sandwiches, thalis, pasta, enchiladas, fries and doughnuts. That folowed by the purchase of a brand new PS3!

The next day was about setting up the ps3 on the HDMI port to get the full-1080p output. Man
 the TV really came alive when playing the games. I had asked dad to bring a blu-ray edition of Dark Knight rom the US. The images look so real, you can even discern the strands of Heath Ledger's hair. It was indeed a merry christmas :)

And we saw ghajini yesterday, which i personally did not like. But the caramel popcorn and nachos with cheese dips at the theater made up for it. God, i had to jog nearly 5kms today to burn off some of those calories...

Total indulgence, total holiday...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Superb Advance Course!

Behind Closed Eyes
Lie Infinite Skies

Where Emotions dance
And Stress drains

Where Hearts bloom
And Silence Reigns

Where Bliss pours
And Love rains

Where Truth dawns
And He reigns still and blissful
The last weeks advance course was the  perfect tonic after a long field trip. It was my 10th course and am awaiting number 11. That said, i was also preparing to get home to abu dhabi, which i did last night. The flight was pleasant, jet airways from bangalore to mumbai and then mumbai to abu dhabi. Jet had a huge selection of movies and i saw singh is kingg which was decent fun.  Today, i conducted a volunteers meet and there is our long weekly satsang tomorrow.

So things are happening here. Wil update soon [:)]

The first day has been a good one. Already

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Small Issues

Coming back to bangalore was pleasant - a nice volvo bus with spacious seating, and then a spice jet from guwahati to bangalore, followed by anoter volvo from the airport to woody's. Had a pizza after 2 months, and well i realised i was quite well off with the food in Itanagar :)

Am just tying up loose ends, getting last minute formalities done. Had a weird experience with Reliance Money. I had applied for the demat account and all formalities were done. By the time they finally sent the welcome kit, i had left for arunachal. I got a call from their executive that once i was back in Bangalore i could collect the kit. When i went ther today, the executive at the desk checked her records and told me it is alrady delivered. Now a demat account is almost like a pasport, you cant just deliver it to anybody without proper identification, and these people had done just that. On asking why they did not check for identity, they coolly replied that that is how the courier company operates. I was bemused by how coolly they just pass the buck. Am working on resolving the issue at present. Lets see how it shapes up.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A New Begining

Guruji has a grand vision of seva for Arunachal and several teachers are involved, working to make it happen. A DSN, Advance Course, and a TTC have been announced at the new ashram. Work is picking up again.

Personally, it has been an invaluable learning being here. Shall be headed back to Bangalore soon and then will see how things progress from there. Have my MBA this year for which Guruji had also enquired.

Although it has only been two months, but something indescribable has been experienced in this short span. I had come to Arunachal hoping to do something adventurous, something deeply meaningful, to contribute and give to my Master. Instead i am going back with full hands and a full heart, laden with His abundant blessings and gifts. Man, it feels amazing! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dec 4 & 5: More time with Guruji

On dec 3 Guruji returned from Tawang. Our group of volunteers and teachers were happily busy since the morning to recieve all our family who had come for the advance course from Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur. The buses started coming in by 5.30 am and we had our stall up at Ganga market, recieving and directing the entrants to their guest houses/hotels/etc. An important learning to note is that having alphabetically-sorted state wise lists is a much better idea to quickly complete the formalities so people may comfortably proceed. The morning program lasted till around 8.30 am. Then Guruji visited our Art of Living school, which also served till yesterday as the Art of Living office, and he met all the kids and others who had assembled for his darshan. His cavalcade was bigger that day because others had joined in from Guwahati. I got to meet many close friends from Guwahati and the atmosphere was festive. In the afternoon, there were about 15 of us volunteers who worked at the Banquet hall, cleaning the room for the advance which was to start the next day. 

Loads of work was done that day, with the setting up of  the PDS venue for which around a 100 odd volunteers worked the whole day and night. People had interesting experiences. Alok narrated how Bhavesh and he had to wake up a shopkeeper at midnight to buy plastic.

The PDS started as scheduled, and so did the ad
vance course. I had the privilege of conducting Long Kriya for the 370 Advance Course participants in the venue. Pankaj Bhaiya was a treat to be with throughout the program. Dixon and Deepak joined us at the center in the evening.

Dec 5 was another yummy day. I was sitting inside his kuteer the whole day, and had a chance to carry and lay his asan. I witnessed a press conference and 4 important meetings that day and again, it was a treat to watch him in action. So gentle, so skilful yet, fortuantely for all of us,
  Guruji always gets His way. He left for the ashram in teh afternoon and promised he would meet us all in the evening. I had some personal difficulties i wanted to speak to him about and he smiled and told me we shall talk about it in the night.

There were many important messages Guruji sent across in all his meetings, one He is extremely concerned about 
preserving the indigenous culture and traditions of Arunachal, which many sociologists claim to be as one of the richest surviving traditions. Second, he was very clear that China should extend its hand to shake hands with all of India, and not try to cut off a finger of the hand by claiming Arunachal. he also mentioned about the need for Arunachalis to start growing their own crops instead of importing from Assam, and for exporting the delicious kiwi fruits and pineapples grown here to all the country. Arunachal kiwis taste better than the NZ ones and cost only a fraction. guruji emphasised hwo important it is from Arunachal to build roads and connect itself with thes rest of the country. And he has told all Art of Living members to contribute to work for Arunachal.

The evevning meditation and stasang was bliss. Guruji spoke on Shiva, who is worshipped
 diligently in Arunachal. And he had more meetings in the night. He must have met close to a
 1000 people through his personal meetings that day, and yet he ahd enough sparkle and mischief left over. He is so patient when listening to the smallest of things.

And when he left in the morning, he took our hearts away. 

Now, in the aftermath of his visit, we are getting started once again. Feels like a Monday

Dec 2 : Seva and Radio Interview

On Dec 2, Guruji left for a day to Tawang, called the switzerland of india because of its beautiful landscape, its still rivers, its snow, its pine trees and lofty monasteries. There were entertaining moments when he was leaving and certain members of his entourage without seats wanted to travel with him and were trying to exchange with others who were. I had a wonderful chance to meet with some teachers and organizers who have with Art of Living for a long long time. One lady, Shashi ji, who is a pillar of art of living since 1985, used to organize apex courses for Guruji way back in '87. The power of the lady was phenomenal and her conversations with Guruji are almost like two close friends talking to each other. At one point, she ws telling Guruji "Aaaj aap pareshaan lag rahe ho. Jo bhi problem hai mujhko de do." :) (You seem tired today. Give me all your problems). And there were other teachers who have been working wonderfully for so long in the North East.
My afternoon seva was to take our guests from Canada on a tour and on shopping. There were 4 ladies from Canada, who belong to the indienous community there, and who mentioned how with conversion the entire local culture is being wiped out with escalating stress and problems in the society. Hitu, their Indo-Mauritian teacher did the translation between french and english for our sake. We went and saw the local museum which highlighted the dressing, weapons, early statues and paintings of the 26 major tribes who inhabit Arunachal even today. There is a huge diversity in the people here, from the monk-like Monpas of Tawang (in Eastern Arunachal), who build monasteries, work businesses and are more docile, to the hunter Wanchos of Tirap district, in western arunachal, who depend p
rimarily on hunting and have elaborate war helmets adorned with boar tusks and bear hide. We also saw the main Gompa, the Buddhist temple, of Itanagar, which was filled with paintings of all the Bodhis and the Yakshas. The temple was very serene.

After the touring, we went shopping for local handicrafts. We found a small Apatani shop and the ladies spent close to 2 hours shopping for all manners of local skirts, shawls and trinkets. We had lunch at E&K's, the Cafe Coffee Day of Itanagar, and we parted in the evening at their guest house.

On returning i was given the very pleasant job of escorting Vikram Bhaiya to the local FM station for a radio inerview, and i was off to the ashram to pick him up. Vikram bhaiya was to be interviewed in the most popular radio show here between 9 pm and 11 pm, and we arrived to a warm welcome at the radio station. After the initial pleasantries with the owner of the channel, bhaiya was headed to the interview, at which point RJ Samir asked me if i would also come along. Man, it was quite a thrill to be sitting inside a live studio with the big radio mikes. Although it was to be Vikram Bhaiya's interview, but the RJ introduced me as a 'youth specialist' f the Art of Living and asked me several questions on youth. This was totally a blast! Vikram Bhaiya is so perfect at everything he does, and it was a teat to watch his smooooth answers to all the questions that were posed.

After the show, i went with him to the ashram and we had a fun conversation on topics ranging from radio shows to macs. Was an unforgettable day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dec 1: A Day with the Master

In the company of a sadguru, when we are truly ourselves, time seems to slow down. Sights, sounds and words seem magnified, every happening is redolent with nuances, and life seems so much more special. One moment spent with him seems like a day, an hour feels like a month, a day like infinity. The last 5 days have changed something within. It feels like all the wonderful profound experiences, all the learnings of a lifetime were magically lived through in 5 days. And this is one of many more to come.

The first day he landed, Dec 1, we were all at the helipad waiting like mad for him. The weather 
was surprsingly (or maybe not) cheerful in the anticipation of his arrival. The sky shone azure, the verdant hills seemed to be dancing in stillness. His white and orange chopper made a nice, slow landing and he glided majestically. I got a chance to welcome him with a flower and gift him a white woolen cap. When recieving the cap, he remarked "Humein topi pehna rahe ho?" (tr. pulling a fast one on me?), at which we all laughed and i replied "Guruji, sar aapke havale hai" (Guruji, i am at your command) at which he laughed:)  The Tribal Women performed a traditional welcome dance and then we all rushed after him to inaugurate the
 new art of living center here. The elcome was done in Dyoni Polo ceremony (this is the local religion, which literally means worship of the sun and the moon). He spent some time here and then we were off to the Banquet Hall, the VIP guesthouse, where he occupied suite 110. He was resting, reading his emails and newspapers after a long day of travel and told me to read certain articles out to Him. After the newspapers, Guruji slept awhile and in the evening there were rounds of meetings with the local politicians and imprtant dignitaries. It was a treat to watch him so close in action. There is not a wasted comment, a wasted look or a wasted gesture. Everything He does, there is so much significance behind it. Sitting in his presence, i was feeling so charged and focused. He retired to rest around 10 in the night, and that was the end of a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2 Magical Days!

Over the last two weeks there has been frenetic activity in Nahar Lagun for his visit. We did midnight postering around town, and followed up with repostering because some miscrant group had done an organized vandalizing of our posters, we did a seven day divine shop stall to sell art of living stuff and PDS passes. That wasinteresting, as peoplewould come with all sorts of requests, and would want discounts...

And finally, at the end of the long wait, HE arrived yesterday. Technically he never landed because he reached at 2pm at the nahar lagun helipad, welcomed by traditional dancers belonging to both the Nyishi and Galo communities, and he floated in. I gifted him a pretty white cap, which he accepted an said "Humein topi pehna rahe ho?". I culd only smile and reply "Guruji sar aapke havale hai". He laughed at this. He headed to the newly constructed Donyi Polo mandir next to veterinary hospital, and inaugurated the place. Then the procession moved to the Banquet Hall and i read aloud the newspaper for Guruji while he sat right in front of me.
I got a full 8 hours with Him yesterday...Cant even begin to describe how it felt like..

The fu continued ntop th4e mcornin. But all the jazz in anohet mail