What am I?

What am I?

I ask myself

Flowing with life


I am not a writer

I lack wisdom to teach

Though I observe

Anthropologist I am not

Discipline I lack

To become a real researcher

I am active but not really an activist

I care but I am not a social worker

Connecting people I like

But community organizer I am not

I can take some photographs

But photographer I am not

I like to paint

But not really an artist

I can dance sometimes

Though bboy I am not

I enjoy playing with words

But poet I am not


What? What am I then?

I ask myself

Contemplating life unfolding


Am I that tiny little bird that sings perched on a blossoming plum tree?

Am I that tree that stands facing the unforgiving change of seasons?

Am I that clinging leaf that falls while pondering its impermanence?

Oh Mother Earth are you going to embrace me soon?

Am I that tingling morning dew dripping into the eternal river

That flows and flows through

Mountains and valleys and plains

To finally empty itself into the Sea


What? I am nothing really?


I must be something

Hm maybe I am nothing yet something at the same time

I don’t know

I am quite confused


Oh! Perhaps I am a confused bird singing perched on a blossoming plum tree with leaves filled with dew dripping into the eternally flowing river flowing towards the Sea emptying itself…

Oh I see you now ego! It’s nice to meet you my dear ego trying to be someone, to become something darn we do have a long journey ahead and lots of suffering on its way so let us wish ourselves a bon voyage towards the Sea it’s going to be a rough ride home

Reflections On A Train

Life is like sitting on a train backwards facing

Not knowing when we will reach our destination,


The final destination.

After sometime the train resumes its journey back to its departing station.

Back and forth it goes.

Carrying an uncertain number of passengers,

All from different backgrounds:

Rich, poor, young, old, students, teachers, buyers, sellers…


On a bench sat a man,

Dressed in a shirt and pants like a middle class worker.

He took out a chopping board,

He must be a chef and he is trying to save time by chopping things here in the train,

Thought the mind,

And the man started chopping onions and boiled potatoes,

How fast and skilled he chopped

Finely dressed and finely chopped

What a skill!

Had a concentrated look in his eyes

Some contentment in his heart

Yet sometimes his mind wandered off

Should I be doing something else?

But chopping he continued

Is he going to take these vegetables home and cook?

Soon he finished his skillful job.


What is this man doing?

And he pulled out his muri (puffed rice) snack kit,

Dangerous kit this was,

A big metal box with lots of muri,

And different small containers of spices and condiments like

Boiled chickpeas, coconut strips and bujia (crispy fried snack with masala)

Everything danced around like it was Holi—the festival of colors

Customers saw this,

Desire arose,

And the maestro started his symphony,

His little spoon worked like a baton stick

Conducting a synaesthetic symphony of

Sounds, colors, smells, flavors and textures.

What a masterpiece!

He was not just a muri wallah (person associated with a specific job or service)

As many people would think.

He was a man selling completeness in life

(Althought he had his short mind wanderings and doubts with it,)

He was able to experience the ecstatic joy of concentration and sense of purpose in life.

He was a teacher,

Spreading the message that

No job is too small and no job is too big.

As long as you are mindful while performing it and pour Love into it,

Doing it as selfless service to others,

You become closer to God and to find fullness in life.

Just like a farmer who plows and works on his field,

You will soon reap the benefits from it.

Let Love spring forth from your Heart when you perform your job

Or else go find a new one that allows you to do so.

Life is short

Like a play

You find your role and perform it.

In the end,

All there is or isn’t

It’s just a child’s play…

Short Story: The Old Lady In The Market

This is a fictional short story. All characters and situations are imaginary. Only the locations are inspired by real places visited when travelling around the world.

“If you marry well, you will be happy,” said an old lady to a young unmarried lady savoring a homemade glutinous rice ball filled with pork, also called “zong zi” in Chinese. The old lady made this dish with love in her small room near the ‘Old’ Chinatown in Kolkata, a historical place near Tiretta Bazaar, famous for its early morning Chinese breakfast served in food stands.

The old lady owned of these small food stands. Every day, the old lady would come to the remnants of this ‘Old’ Chinatown in Kolkata and set up her own little food stand. She would place a chair and a bamboo basket on the floor and voila! She was now an independent business owner and this was her small food shop in the small busy street where the famous Chinese breakfast was served every morning. Other local Chinese Indians would also set up food stalls serving traditional Chinese breakfast foods. There were food shops selling fish and meatball soups, dumplings, steamed buns, spring rolls, sesame balls filled with red bean paste, pickled cabbage and many other traditional Chinese foods. This old lady made her special delicacies in her house, brought them to the market, and sold them to all the people visiting her stand: local Chinese Indians living in the area, Bengalis with a taste for Chinese food, migrants and tourists from other states in India or the ‘foreigner’ tourists who had heard about this exquisite place in a travel magazine or travel show. The old lady was happy to sell her delicacies to any passerby curious and brave enough to try the ‘goodies’ inside the bamboo basket. This bamboo basket showcased plastic bags filled with bamboo leaf wrapped “zong zi”, salted duck eggs, and tofu.*

*For those who haven’t heard of these foods before: “zong zi”(glutinous rice balls filled with pork and wrapped in bamboo leaves), salted duck eggs (a very salty type of preserved eggs), tofu (curd made from soybeans).

As the young lady was eating and chatting with the old lady, a middle aged man stepped in and whispered an intruding remark to the young lady, “One time I bought some eggs and tofu from this lady. The salted eggs were rotten and the tofu was sour! Be careful with what you buy from this lady.” The young lady quickly replied, “Thanks for the information but I can figure it out by myself. If you don’t mind, we were having a nice talk before you stepped in.” The man, stung by the power of the young lady’s response, backed off and went on his way. He wasn’t going to get lucky with this girl.

The old lady had very bad hearing and sight yet she fully understood what just had happened. Slowly and with a gentle smile, she leaned her wrinkled face towards the young lady’s delicate face and said with a soft voice, “These men are the worst. Never marry these kind of men.” She paused for a second. “If you marry well, you will be happy.”

The young lady nodded in agreement. In an attempt to change the topic, the young lady asked, “Do you have any sons or daughters?” The old lady replied, “Yes, I had a son and a daughter.” She glanced down and said, “My son died very young. He was only ten years old when he died of typhoid. It happened during the onset of the Sino-Indian War in 1962. Life was terrible for the Chinese living in India…” Then she looked up, and added, “My daughter moved to Hong Kong and got married there. My daughter married well, she is happy now.”

From the darkened sky above, it started raining. The old lady reached for a dark blue umbrella near the bamboo basket. She opened it and sheltered herself from the rain. Seeing the young lady without an umbrella, the old lady kindly made a gesture for the young lady to step into her blue shelter. While the old lady sat in her chair holding the umbrella, the young lady stood next to her, semi-curled, trying to dodge the incoming rain. There was a moment of silence. For a few minutes, both the old and the young lady contemplated the gently falling monsoon rain. Looking around, everything made sense, people seeking shelter from the rain, food vendors hurrying to close their shops, people eating, chatting, laughing, all under the falling rain, all in one moment, the present moment.

Once the rain slowed down, the old lady reached for her bag and from there she took out her wallet and showed an old black and white passport sized photo of a young woman. “She is my daughter”, she said. “My daughter married well, she is happy now.”

The rain stopped. The old lady started packing up her food shop. The Chinese breakfast was over. There was no fixed time for the start and ending of Chinese breakfast but generally it started very early around 5.30am and ended around 8.30am. It flowed accordingly to the temporary transactions between the food vendors, customers, weather and other unseen factors. Or a better way to explain this would be, it just flowed. Some food vendors had already packed and left while others were staying a little longer in order to sell all their perishable foods before going home or to other jobs. Especially the middle aged men and women had to rush to other places where they held other jobs. Life was tough; only selling Chinese breakfast in the morning can’t really feed their children and parents who lived with them, all under the same roof. On the other hand, many elderly Chinese Indian food sellers could return to their lonely homes and rest because most of them didn’t do it for the money; they did for the pure joy of it, to socialize with people and to keep alive their Chinese culture and presence in Kolkata. Of course, nobody could complain about the extra income from it. The old lady was satisfied with her sales. She had managed to sell all the “zong zi” though she still had leftover salted eggs and tofu. In a slow and careful motion, she packed them up. “Will these go bad?” asked the young lady innocently. The old lady slowly turned her head up, looked into the young lady’s eyes and replied as follows:

Everything goes bad, my dear.

Eggs will root,

Tofu will turn sour.

Children die,

Hearts will turn sour.

Only Hope remains

That I will meet them again in Heaven.

My sight is blurring,

My hearing is deafening,

My Death is approaching.

Life is like the monsoon rain,

It comes quickly and disappears swiftly.

Flooding our senses

And receding into emptiness.

My advice to you my dear,

Is just Being in Love.

Not to men

But to God.

You can find Him everywhere.

Remember if you marry well, you will be happy my dear.


Saying this, the old lady bid farewell and disappeared into the busy streets of Kolkata. The young lady looked around and slowly started to realize the beauty of God in everything.



A Bird Sits Contemplating

A bird sits contemplating

On a branch

Of dancing trees

Swaying at the sound of snow white sugar.


So sweet,

This ice-cold view

That somehow warms the heart

And whispers that God is everywhere.


God is with the bird outside in the snow,

For it shelters it with life and warmth.

God is with the dancing trees

Swaying at the sound of the crisp wind.


God is in the falling snow.

For it spreads the world with a layer of infinite beauty

That only few stop and appreciate its beauty.

(The bird contemplates.)

God is in you and me.

Always here,

It’s just that we forget sometimes.

We forget the most important of things:

Forget love,

Forget beauty,

Forget our place in the world.


So contemplate like the bird, my friend

And have faith

For the Lord is embracing you, right now.