Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hmmm , ReIncarnation ???? Naah !

I came across the picture of John Wilkes Booth , the infamous assasin of President Lincoln when I was going through a book on the Civil War in my college years and it was my younger sister Tarana who pointed it out to me : " This guy looks like you dead on ! Wow ! " Needless to say , she proceeded to proclaim her finding to every soul that came to our house the next two weeks and in the process , much to my consternation , might have jeopardised my secret advances on some of her friends ! But, when I first saw the picture , I was floored - it was as if I was looking at myself ! To be a look alike with a famous assasin is not very appealing , but over the years I took it in stride and made a laugh about it . When I was in Seattle , I found this photo studio where you can wear all these civil war era clothes and take a picture - and since I had a moustache then , I took a picture posed the same as the picture on top ! I tried unsuccessfully to find that picture to post on the blog but couldn't find it , and held up the posting of the blog for a while . Anyways , so whenever I hear about ReIncarnation , this picture comes to mind - but trust me , I neither have any memories of performing in a theatre nor do I have memories lying in a barn during the last moments of my previous life !

ReIncarnation is very debatable, and very romantisized . And, above all , not proven. All religions have touched on reincarnation in some form , but it is profound in Hindu and Budhist religions , and completely abhored in Islam. Budhism believes in Samsara or endless cycle of ReIncarnations , until the soul reaches the purest form of Enlightenment or Nirvana . In ancient Egypt , the bodies were enbalmed so that they can make the journey to the after-life along with the soul and they believed in Resurrection . Ancient Greek phlosophy also dwelled in ReIncarnation - Plato , Socrates and Pythagoras believed in it and Pythagoras even used to give details of his previous life experiences during his teachings . " At the end of my life ," Socrates said , " I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again , and that the living spring from the dead ." Although Jewish faith does not believe in ReIncarnation , The Kabala , the ancient teaching of the Jewish faith is full of stories on ReIncarnation more than a thousand years old . Native American teachings are firmly rooted in the belief , and The Rosicrucian Fellowship also believes in this phenomenon . The Sufis also believe in the rebirth of the soul to achieve eternal greatness . In other words , every ancient religion has touched on it , or based its spiritual progression based on its existence .

In Tibet , the mystical belief is the current Dalai Lama is the 14th Incarnate - and the way the Wise one is chosen is through dreams and signs of high priests . The current Chinese authorities issued a warning few months back that there will be no ReIncarnation without their approval - in other words , they will have a direct hand in determining the next Dalai Lama !

And yet , there is no concrete proof of it . The closest modern day believers have come to point out was Edgar Cacye - who would go on a trance and describe people's future , their health problems and their past . He even , supposedly , could tell what their past lives were ! Here is a ABC PrimeTime piece on an amazing kid who vividly remembers how he was shot down during WWII - this piece was actually fascinating -

Part 1 :

Part 2 :

And how about this BBC documentary ?

Well, however astonishing these recounts are , and however romantic it may seem , reincarnation as a science is hard to accept . I do not dispel the believers , they might be on to something that science cannot yet prove - but there are mysteries of life we have not unlocked yet . Life and Death and the Universe still fascinates us , and we do not have all the answers . But have you ever thought that if there is a after-life what would you do ? For me , after all the woman-problems I had in one lifetime , I wonder how many more problems would I run into ? Wouldn't you want to meet all the previous-life people that were your friends ? Worse , what if you run into one of your Ex-es ? Religions where ReIncarnation is a cornerstone , believe this happens so the soul keeps purifying itself - how many ReIncarnation washes would it take for my soul to come out clean ? I really don't want to lighten up a serious topic - but as I was browsing I came across this website : where after you answer some very thought-provoking questions you will find out what form you will take in your next life !! And so I filled it out , and it turns out I will be back as a " horse " along with a lucky 20% who will reincarnate in this animal form !

Well, a stud is always a stud , I suppose !

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rain, Rooftops and Memories .............

I don't know the day, the time when I first realized this - but I think I have a certain affinity and closeness to the rain. It must have been a day when I was down , early somewhere in my childhood days , and I had looked out the window - and the landscape was blinded with rain . And since then , everytime something is heavily weighing down on my mind and I see the skies open up - I feel my assumptions have been proved correct .

Well. January in the Bay area has been raining without end . Day after day , the rain came down at all hours - and I began to wonder when it is going to stop ! So much rain , that my apartment got flooded and I had to move temporarily for a couple of months until it can be fixed ! Still, all this rain evokes a lot of memories - my images of Dhaka , a city I loved which used to look so crisp and beautiful after a rain ! There , rains would sometimes come in between and during sunshine ! And , one of my favorite things to do when I would hear the rain coming down in torrents - was to sprint to the roof ! Every house , building in Dhaka has a roof ! And these roofs are not only places to hang clothes to dry on the clothesline ( no dryers ) or to fly kites , but these roofs are de facto "flirt joints" and the place for "escapades". When it started to rain , I would sprint up on the roof , and within minutes - know the "prospects" in the neighborhood ! And all the single uncommitted girls would come out like butterflies in the advent of Spring and literally spread their wings ! The rain somehow used to take away the inhibitions of a very conservative society and the girls , and guys , used to take the full oppurtunity of it . Personally , I would like to think that I just loved drenching in the rain ( which is true ) , but I cannot escape the very distinct possibility that seeing the girls and somehow connecting with them in between glances was also a reason for my affinity ! Roofs in Dhaka act as a social gathering place for teenagers and friends , and specially during the scorching heat of summer - a place to cool down in the evening and sip tea ! It is from one of these roofs my cousin looked at his future wife quite a few years ago , and found out that the temporary maid that comes to clean my Aunt's house also goes to clean her house , and the rest was history ! As urban traditions of dhaka love stories go - the maid became the courier , then came secret courtship , and finally marriage ! I remember a lot of things that happened on the roof - the first time smoking cigarettes with my friends , the extensive lessons I received from Lipi ( she was seven years older than I was ) and she took it on herself to teach me in the art of kissing ( I was , regardless to say , an ardent student ! ) and unknowing to her I applied my new found knowledge on her younger sister Shabana who I really liked on the same roof in the fading light of the evenings !! Both are happily married , and hopefully our mutual practice made each of us a better lover !

(The view of the rain soaked street from the window of my present apartment)

The evening I remember most is the day I had to say goodbye to my childhood sweetheart on the roof of an old building in a dusty northern town in Bangladesh called Rangpur ( someday I will write in details about this story ) - and in midst of this traumatic hour , the rain came down -slowly at first , then furiously , and we were still looking at each other , and did not move . She was trying to tell me that I should give up our fight , and how she was worried about my safety - and how I would get back to Dhaka with all her uncle's hired hands looking for me ! The rain has stayed with me ever since , I believe . I have to borrow the lines of one of my favorite Bengali poets Nirmolendu Goon here : " You are leaving , And there are tears - In the eyes of the Rain !"

Rain , is not that much fun in the Bay area - with work and driving , there is no romanticism in the rain here - and of cousre , there are no roofs ! But still , the rain leaves me in a different mood , or maybe because I am missing someone that my previous beliefs of rain-theory is stirring back in me . I want a warm rain , coming down not like a drizzle but a cascade - and a roof that I can sprint up to and roam around - and maybe I will find my adventurous years that I left back home come back to me !

Well, the guys doing the marketing for Kerala Tourism undaunted by the fact that the incessant monsoon is a deterrent for tourism , tried a great spin to their ad campaign : " Sometimes it takes water to kindle a Fire !" I cannot agree more Kerala !

And lastly , here is the picture from the movie "Notebook" - and this scene has been become a signature of the kiss in the rain ( I was going to put a Indian movie song in the rain , but this scene is much more pure ......) - this was not supposed to be a "sappy" post , but .......