Desire, the Golden Deer!

The Golden Deer
Has grasped my heart.

The Golden Deer
Out my grasp.

It makes me run,
It makes me fret,
It makes me chase.

It dazzles my eyes,
It tugs my soul,
It races my pace.

In its pursuit
I have lost.

In its craving
I am lost.

It makes me lose,
It makes me choose,
It makes me pay.

It knows my follies,
It knows my dreams,
It hears not what I say.

The Golden Deer
Has grasped my heart.

The Golden Deer
Never in my grasp.

– Shonar Horin Chayi by Rabindranath Tagore (interpreted by Dola Dasgupta)#Tagore #poetry


Calls me by my real name!

Last evening after dropping off my sister for a salon appointment and my son for violin class and doing my monthly grocery shopping, I sat down to have my cup of black tea at my favourite waiting place, Joshua Cafe, by a narrow street of Aundh in Pune. It has become a place that is sacred to me as I wait between chores and classes. A place which has a Jackfruit tree and once as the owner was chopping off the shrubs that lines the outer periphery of his cafe to make room for more space, my friend and I requested him to not cut the tree. Thankfully he kept our request!
I meet many people often as I sit there sipping my coffee or tea, alone or with a friend; famous people, casual acquaintances, old friends, friends who are meant to be met only there, my fans (ahem). But last evening was something else!
I was lost in my thoughts of many things; joys, losses, grieves, lost lovers, failed marriage, growing children, my lovely and unique family, unschooling, divorce, finding new love and letting go, my work, future options, and generally the quest of meaning for life.:). I was snapped out of this inward and void gaze by the sweet voice of a child calling me out, ‘Hello Dola’!
I looked up and saw my friend’s 4 or 5-year-old daughter. She had stopped right in front of the Cafe. She was with a nanny. I got up and said ‘Hi’. She came running to me and said, ‘I am tired after my park outing.’ I told her, ‘thank you for remembering me’. I asked her if she would let me hug her. She thought for a while and gave me a hug and said bye and left, prancing as little girls often do!
I felt so privileged to be remembered by a little child who had seen me may be a couple or four times. And what made me happier was that she pronounced my name perfectly with a soft ‘D’. I went and sat back at my table and sipped the rest of the tea with complete present moment awareness of how the Universe loves me unconditionally! And assured that, there is always a soul who remembers my name and calls me by my real name!

Bhalobhasha Bhalobasha

Let’s ask What Love Is? – By Rabindranath Tagore (loosely interpreted and translated from Bengali, by Dola Dasgupta)
I ask you, my friends,
What is Love?
I ask you, my friends,
What is anguish?
I hear you all say,
Night and Day.
I love, you love
We love.
I ask you my friends,
Is it full of pain?
Is it only tears?
Is it a sigh of sorrow?
Then why, may I ask?
Out of what joy?
One wishes for such agony!
In my eyes, all is beauty,
All is new, all is pure.
The blue sky, dark forest,
White full moon, tender blossoms.
They laugh, they play,
They wither, like I do.
They know no pain,
They know no grief
They know no anguish of desire!
Blooms dry smiling,
The moon wanes with a smirk.
Twinkling stars vanish
With the advent of dawn.
No one is happier than I,
Come to me, Oh my friends!
Listen to the songs,
Of a joyful heart.
For every day that you cry
Keep a day for laughter.
One day maybe, we shall
Forget the grief, the pain
Melancholy, and sing together.
A song of joy!

Gazing into the eyes of your Beloved!

I came close to understanding a great mystery recently. The answer to my pain with respect to some people in my life. On the face of it these relationships look so close and intimate, but I just could not find the resting place in them. I tried my best to mend, improve, change, adjust, adapt myself in these relationships or I tried to mend, improve, change the other. I did what I could, I did not do what was not needed, I did what was needed, I screamed, I cried, I shouted, I pleaded, I begged, I gave in, I let the the other to give in. Everything possible according to me I tried. I thought something was wrong with me and may be something was wrong with the other.
But then I started to pay more attention to the relationships that had joy, fun, lightness, great affection and easy flow. I slowed down, I simply started to be more in the presence of these joyful relationships. With one special person in my life, I felt great pain, as if completely inadequate and incapable of seeing each other. All conversations and attempts ended in more pain and loneliness, with both of us trying to come closer and ending up in pushing each other farther away.
I felt great sexual repression and extreme stress on my heart region. It was like having a cardiac arrest. I let go. I fell apart. I went into the plateau of nothingness and non-doing.
That is when clarity and answers and true insights started to reveal itself to me. I saw what I was missing in these painful relationships. Answers started to come from different sources. I was missing one vital element in this painful togetherness. Eye-to-eye contact and breathing together while simply gazing at each other’s eyes in silence.
Then I started to see how with my joyful relationships there was an open invitation into the each other’s inner world through eye contact, through holding the gaze. All my joyful relationships had one common factor, ‘we looked at each other’s eyes and held that gaze to reach the heart.’ We were allowing a glimpse into our soul’s to each other. We are being given entry to each other’s inner world where we saw and understood everything. We are able to reach a space of complete union of souls. I do not feel sexual repressions in these relationships. Infact I dance, sing and laugh and cry joyfully. I am able to operate from my belly, from the region of my sex chakra (the seat of creativity and life) and the energy that releases from there reaches my heart and makes me calm and peaceful and happy. Makes me feel fully held. It made me feel secure, safe and loving.
In these joyful relationships I feel sexually liberated even though we are not ‘doing sex’. I feel all aspects of my being come alive in a dance of abundance in these spaces. And these relationships are all with mixed gender people.
I am seeing how in the painful relationships, I am not missing the actual act of sex, but this possibility of inner sexual union. I feel disembodied and in great pain as if I am being caved in or being imprisoned.
And as these deep insights started to happen, a book, ‘The Spiritual Practices of Rumi – radical techniques for beholding the divine’ By Will Johnson came into my lap.
The contents of this book is fully validating what I am seeing deeply now. What I am missing in the painful relationships is communion through looking at each other’s eyes. I am missing the connection and merger with the inner world of these people. I want to hold the gaze, and what I see are roving eyes. I want stillness, and what I see are distractions.
I am feeling so happy and relieved. I am not wrong in feeling what I was feeling. I am whole and complete. I am full of love and compassion.
And I must also be honest here, this book came into my lap from one of these painful relationships. All painful relationships are in my life to take me deeper into the universal soul. They are in my life to take me home to where I truly belong and where I came from.
So deep gratitude to all the major pains in my A**.:)
Sorry I had to me myself with my dark humor in the end. As for me only my humor saves the day for me, always!


Sky is grey!

The sky is beautiful here.

Here it is grey.

Here, behind the hill,

As the sun sets,

bright splashes of white

is breaking through

the grey.

And a single star

sets fire to the sky.

Here it is just grey,

now dark grey.

What is life without

a few shades of grey?



Please tell me a story!

Yesterday, I was asked to fill in as a judge for a storytelling competition the next day, at one of the city colleges. They needed two judges and one of them was unable to make it. My first reaction was, ‘wow, me a judge in a city college, I must have made it as a storyteller.’ Then the smile came back to my heart and there was the stillness of by true nature.

I called the professor who had invited me and told her, it was short notice and I wouldn’t be able to make it, but thanked her for the invitation. However, even after the phone call, I was not feeling whole, as I knew that I had lied to her about the real reason as to why I didn’t want to judge the event. I asked myself why I didn’t tell her the truth. I realized, that it was because simpler to make an excuse than truly explain to her why I felt storytelling is not a competitive art. I found that it would be harder perhaps to let her know my views about judging people for the things they like to do, or make her see how people often do things because they want to step up in their lives and for that they are willing to allow themselves to be judged. And most importantly I was not willing to reveal my true nature to her fearing she might not invite me again.

But, I am at a stage in my life, where I refuse to be inauthentic. I find, I sleep better each night, when I have been authentic and honest with myself and others. So I wrote her a mail.

I wrote to her, ‘I would make a terrible judge as my whole life’s work is about inclusion. I would be unable to judge the students as I wouldn’t know on what basis to judge them for the stories they tell, even though I know you would give me a sheet with certain attributes that you would like me to grade. And I would still fail at it as I would do a dishonest job by pretending to know who is better than the other, based on your parameters. That is why I turned down your invitation. Instead, I would I like to invite you and your students to come and tell stories at the story circle I host for the community every month, where we could all joyfully tell and listen to stories. I would also pretty much love to host a circle that is non-competitive, in your college, if there is keenness.’

I felt better and slept well. It no longer mattered what she thought, or felt or how she would respond or not respond. I had successfully owned my authentic self. That is what mattered now!

What is a story? What is storytelling? Who is a storyteller? What are the images that are evoked in us when we say, “tell me a story”!?

When I ask myself these questions, these are the images that come up for me:

An elder of the family, a woman or man. An older cousin or the cheerful uncle or aunt. A guest who has come from another city, country. A stranger in the train I shall never meet again. A stranger, who is becoming a friend at a party or gathering. A child who has come from playing with her friends. A man I am falling in love with. A woman who I am willing to share my secrets with. A young man who becomes my buddy for life. A mother putting her children to sleep with a kiss on their heads. A mother feeding her child as she tells her a story. The garrulous life of any party. A father winds down after a hard day’s work with the stories of the day!

Once upon a time when I was in college in Delhi, my stories were the events that transpired on my journeys while commuting by public buses. One evening on a day that had seen some rain, after a humid sultry month of July, in my third year of college, I was returning home after a math class, and my umbrella saved a woman.

It was 7 pm in the evening, but it was dark already, even though it was July in Delhi, as it had rained and the sky was still overcast. The bus I took back home, stopped at the bus stop near my home. As I was getting off the bus, a woman as young or a few years older than me was ahead of me and disembarking at the same stop as me. A man whose face I did not see also got off with us. The woman started walking at a very fast pace without looking back, right or left. She was in a terrible hurry. My spine was tingling, the hair on my back stood up. It was fear I smelled. It was panic and great unease that was being felt by my skin and heart. The man was ahead of me, and the woman was ahead of the man. She was trying to look back but not fully turning  her head, as if fearing finding out what was behind her.

I was following them intuitively sensing, she needed help. The man was close enough to her to be able to smell her scent, but not close enough to touch her. I sped up my pace to keep up with them. To me, it became clear, he was stalking her. A common happening in Delhi in those days! The lane was dark and was covered with large old trees. That made the evening darker than it already was. I saw that I had passed by the lane to my home. I was on a mission.

I suddenly got a whiff of the woman’s restlessness and panic. I guessed she was nearing her home or hostel. There was a working women’s hostel just round the corner. She did not want the man to find out where she lived. It was strange. I could almost read her mind, her fear, her heart beat, her guts. I held my umbrella firmly in my hand, and came closer to the man in front. He was strangely unaware of me walking all this while behind him. I tapped him firmly on the shoulder with my umbrella. He swerved, like a car the driver of which had just missed a turn, and crossed the lane and started walking back to the main road where the bus stop was. He did not look back or slow his pace.

I stopped, the woman stopped. She finally looked back. Her face was dark, fearful, but she saw me and my umbrella and I smiled at her, ‘he has gone.’ Relief flooded her face, her breathing was normalizing. She said, ‘thank you!’ I told her, ‘keep an umbrella always’ and I turned back towards my lane and walked home. I looked back to see her, she was walking home faster.

My stories came to me from being alive, from being aware of every breath, every fear, every caution, every joy, every drop of rain, every wail of a child, every gasp of fresh air and relief from pain, from the moan of a lover, from the kiss of the beloved, from the lecherous eyes and touch of the pervert, the betrayal of a friend, the sadness of my ancestors, the brutality of a brute, the affection of a soul mate, the defeat of the enemy, the victory of my kind. My stories come to me from the stirring of my guts when I experience the world and its creatures. My stories come from the stories of other human beings that have lived, are living, will live!

So please tell me Oh Judge! Whose story is better or worse, yours or mine or his or theirs! Come to me and tell a story in the circle of life, let me listen to you and you listen to me!

Divorce is not happy!

I recently read that there are counselors who support people through divorce. I feel this is much-needed. I also read someone write that ‘I had a happy divorce’. For a moment when I read that I felt inadequate. As I did not have a happy divorce. I wanted to respond with anger to that Facebook comment. But I held myself and allowed myself to feel my anger and inadequacy and see what came up that would be a more compassionate way of responding.

I realized the only compassionate way would be to expose my inadequacies and anger by owning them and admitting them. I got divorced after being with a man for 15 years. He was my boyfriend and then my husband. He was a friend, a buddy in many ways. Our marriage was sometimes happy and sometimes really tough. I don’t want to go into the details of describing my marriage. But what I want to say is that despite the violence, despite the anger, despite the need to leave, my divorce was not a happy divorce.

I did not want a divorce, I wanted to make my marriage last, I tried to make it work. I wanted to stay together for me, for my husband , for my children, for our respective families, for our huge circle of warm and loving friends, for our grandchildren and their children and their friends and families.

So with so many dreams and hopes riding on our marriage, it was certainly not a happy divorce. It was sad. The saddest event of my life. An event that left me shaken and broken and devastated beyond measure. The grieving of that sadness has been a long drawn arduous process. Add to that the responsibility of being a single mother to two growing children and support them in processing their emotions to accept their new realities is the hardest of all. Add to that the re-marriage of ex-husband before I had moved on internally.

The icing on the bitter cake is that one cannot grieve openly as people tell you, ‘Who asked you get a divorce?’ So one has to be brave, smile, fit in, and carry all the shame and guilt and disappointment alone inside one’s own broken heart. And also take on the responsibility of one’s own actions and consequences and perceived failure to make it work in a world that judges divorce very harshly. Add to that one’s own self-judgment.

To try to find self-love and self-worth when life as we knew it or believed it to be falls apart is the hardest for any one. Death and divorce are two most life altering events in any one’s life. Divorce is not happy even if the marriage was an unhappy one. Divorce is sad for multiple reasons, and gets even more intense when there are children involved. Does that mean I made a mistake by divorcing? No, I am not saying that. I am saying no one wants to divorce. It is always the last resort when all else fails.

Divorce is sad, deeply sad, it is heart crunching, guts gnawing grief and sadness, add to it the loneliness of losing support of family and security of many things material and non-material. Add to that the feeling of isolation in a society where everything revolves around coupling and marriage. I can vouch for people who get divorced that they do not ever recover from sadness, they simply are forced to go within and make peace with sadness that will never leave. Divorce compels some people to seek deeper peace and unshakable self-love that is not dependent on something as frivolous as happiness. I, for one have seen deeply that there is no such thing as lasting happiness. Divorce has compelled me to seek acceptance of life when it falls apart. It has compelled me to be prepared for rejection, for abandonment, for love not working out always fruitfully, for not ever finding another partner.

Divorce is death and death is not happy, it is real and hides in it the true meaning of life which is essentially fully empty. Divorce has compelled me to stop running after happiness and find grace in whatever life brings me.

Divorce is the greatest spiritual teacher you will ever meet and I hope you do not meet that teacher and if you do please bow with humble surrender with the true reverence it deserves!

Divorce is not happy!



Star Stuff!

We are all made of the same star stuff.
Like clouds with charged particles,
We attract each other,
We drift away,
We bump into each other.
Sometimes floating,
Sometimes creating thunder, lightening and rain.
Sometimes not charged,
We just become an azure blue.
We are all made of the same star stuff.

Dance for yourself and be still for others!

I was part of a dance therapy circle last evening with some nice people. Many I knew intimately and were close friends. The facilitator took us through some movement work with eyes closed and no music. After the exercise she asked the circle to express what everyone felt or experienced. I stayed silent. I have been dancing since I as a child. Dance and rhythm come spontaneously and naturally to me. I can dance with or without music. I feel the music inside me, the beat in my heart, the movement in my limbs and hips. It comes on its own. I stayed silent as, I have been observing lately, when we are naturally flowing in some areas, it is better to be quiet for the sake of others who are feeling inhibited in those areas. I so wanted to share what I was feeling, but I chose to stay quiet, as sharing one’s authentic joy often makes many sad, that has been my experience.

We feel we are inspiring, but we do not realize that we are perhaps overshadowing those who need to come out in the center or out of their closets. No one overshadows intentionally, it just seems like that to those who are struggling in their painful shadows. It also makes many avoid you. Is that living small? Have any of you felt this way? To be aware of one’s own prowess and not yield it or yield wisely and compassionately or tenderly or in measures, is that being dishonest?

To take one self out of the limelight so that only light remains and falls on those who need it the most. Does that makes sense to anyone? One lady with physical disabilities was asked to move with eyes closed, she shared how frightened she felt given her challenges and so she gave up and then she sat down and remembered a line from the Bible, which went somewhat like this: Be still and trust that the Lord is moving you. She had tears in her eyes which she held back from falling. I wanted to be still for her, I didn’t want to dance for her, but still I danced as the lord made me move.  What could I do?