Monday, January 22, 2018

Vignettes occupying the vacuum of my cerebral psyche, black and white omniscient, recurrent, accepted, registered! 

Benaras Standard Time: The Book (Chapters I-VI)

Possible table of contents

I. 2009: Benaras Triptych
             i.a. Four Days In February
             i.b. Monsoon's Moonson
             i.c. Archaeology of Qurobear
II. 2010: Traces of Dara Okat & Hinterland
III. 2011: The Shiva Incident + Aftermath
IV. 2012: Shivala Ricochet
V. 2013: Subterranean Entropy
VI. 2018: Anonymity Almighty

The book elaborates on subjects ranging from strangely banal to supernatural, detailed analysis & character-studies of people I have met on all these visits, the conversations and music we shared and collectively created, ideas for a future utopia, drawings and diary notes of mystic encounters, apocalyptic incidents in a little oasis in Shivala Ghat, the depth of the Indian Raga, the unexpected discovery of the Dhrupad Sampradaya and Pallab Das, the alleged captain of the ship sailing to the North Star, fooling around for the camera in a bear costume (from Chowk), scaling walls to shoot in ancient haveli's on the Ganga, cryptic studies of nature's wear-and-tear via the macrophotographic form manifest as Abstraktkollisions on every nook and corner of this place!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

He had helmets for eyes, minisafety video-recording devices connected directly into the arc-eye of the absolute. Aesthetics, anagrams, algebra transfers from the corner of the universe, his silent hill in the ocean, a radiogram of radioactivity reminiscent of a seven-year itch. 


Question: Does Time have a form and a face? Are we trapped in this illusory fractal of forms or do we free ourselves into the absolute formlessness?
Answer: Let the wind find its way right through the left hemisphere of your brain and paint shapes in autumn red and turbulent indigo in a superconscious superunknown we call the temporary life. These few years in this particular form, this peculiar cut, the few inches occupying a dot on earth, its a journey through time and space, time being the eternal now alone, past stashed away into cerebral corners, future containing no discernable script, a timeless horizon over Ganga, orange-clad sunlessness castaway onto shores of shamanistic shadows. Kashi, release the Shiva onto the Ghats, make a pencil-sketch of a Trishul on Narad Ghat next to Mark's Redhouse. Bhom!

Question: Is the artistic image the only eternal one? 
Answer: As transparent as it seems, the aspect of fluidity within art is what provides a state of temporary relief, a sense of divine contact, touching the thread hanging above your head to let the supersonic hum sing through the vessel that is your body. In this state of grace, a oneness appears to have manifest itself within the corridors of your corpora callosa.

Saturday, January 20, 2018



Cricket beside Mother River, Motherevolution circa twentyeighteen, this time the addition of the Ave Maria Factor from the city. Madhuvanti on Ghats, Resting at Everest, Jesus Alone blasting thru the BOSE vortex in Shiva Ganga, once again. Revisiting the clouds from twentyeleven. Seven years ahead, 6 months left for the cosmic conclusion to Saturn's Spectrum. Pallab's cinematic nuances at Das Complex, Technicolour humming birds holding porcelain seagulls, vibrations on Harishchandra of cockmanbulldog surroundsound, Vishwanath wants to go on a boat journey, once again! Kashi is forever, time unknown, address unknown! Anon Mouse.

Ganges Transition / 21012018 / Day of A

To think and act was all, to enjoy and breathe;
This was the width and height of mortal hope:
Yet there came glimpses of a deeper self
That lives behind life and makes her act its scene.

A truth was felt that screened its shape from mind,
A Greatness working towards a hidden end,
And vaguely through the forms of earth there looked
Something that life is not and yet must be.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Fifteen Days In Celesta Kashi.

The Atmosphere's figurines mist through memory
Creating cyclical movements,
       a sleight of hand,
       the number 8 in infinity,
Of all that was, of all that is and of all that will be, ultimately
      its the solitary candle,
      a Purity of Essence,
The Voice Within Without Vice
Visudha's vortex surfer.

Fiftytwo years of a neon union,
      Oh Father, Oh Mother release the strength,
Let the Cosmic Energy burst out via nad yoga thru
      Sahasrara's made of frequencies and idiosyncracies,
Resplendent oranges bloom thru the poisoned blue
Trishul's plugged into Shiva Stratosphere!
      Bhom Har Har Mahadeva,
Corporal Klegg inhale, exhale, evaporate...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Exodus Esoterica

Distorted diagrams descending onto the universal plain
Carving remnants of the mundane past with nothing to gain
Whirlpools of whirling wanderers accept the insane
Casting revolutions and seeking revelations in the rain
And tapestries of travellers on a train

Writing these words in Bangalore city, a premonition weaving a formless shape in front of my hundred eyes. Kashi calling into the supermundane dance of delight. A deluxe waiting to happen in the cosmic supertone of the seedsound Dhrupad and intonations of frequency via Pallab Das Harishchandra Ghat. Benaras, I love you!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shivarathri with Mauni Baba

Shivarathri on the ghats, sans phone, no connectivity with the exteriors. Seeing, living, breathing Benaras. Loading up my memory with blank blue spaces with orange highlights, that meeting with V. Prakash, the Tamil mainstream film industry's fairest son, he also spoke of rounding, likes alcohol, then those hours spent filming Mauni Baba, silent baba who hasn't spoken to anyone in fifteen years, watching him as he makes everyone bend and hit them on their back with love, that superior power of the Naga baba's, talking of which I finally witnessed one baba balancing on a stick that went through another baba's lingum, full power, 30-sec monumental act of super strength, Siddhi, of times spent with Bhootnath in Kshameshwar ghat talking about Siddhi and Yoga, of those moments in Balu's shop, cigarette in hand, looking at Telugu pilgrims fighting their way to Kedareshwar temple, then again at night visited Mauni baba, V. Prakash giving him a leg massage, lots of laughs, fascinating character, of mind and body, only in the now, lives in a cave, son of the Earth, one silver eye, this is the time of Benaras, when the passing world will see only the mirages and illusions, they will see the white light enter the soul and create a sunfull horizon, acting upon the current time, Benaras Standard Time. Hallelujah!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Alaga 3

Circulars sent out to aircrafts hovering over the Ganga, the space of time sandwiched in the crescent moons silver happy-lining, blasted out onto the sun's peripheral rays, effervescent in thought the thoughtless ones come out into the open, in tents, in orange, their rasta hearts singing untame tunes of the past and the future, the present only a carrier of time now. Time, being now, transported out of time, shuttling around the Earth like pyramids in sector Autumn 8, their relentlessness spearheading a whole new revolution of men wrapped in cotton, their mouths foaming silken threads and monumental earthquakes, hot springs gushing out of their sahasrara, their untamed hearts now waking in the bathroom light and staring into the reflection of Jesus Christ in the water, that piece of the river that flows north suddenly, that section of light passing through the trajectories of so many wanderers, their hearts seeing lies in the blood-red circus, this Maya, this illusion we call reality, this momentary lapse, this seasons best kept secrets residing in wooden boats all coloured blue to represent the omnipresent character of water, of it being there everywhere, looking, feeling, touching all life, making them present, here and now, how did we learn to float, yet we drown, it comes with such force, it asks not how to continue, it only thinks in circles, like those timeless circulars sent out to aircrafts hovering over the Ganga. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Wait

Waiting to go someplace else, waiting, grounded on algorithms and algebra, waiting in lines, waiting for time to make pretty faces, waiting for the fire to burn off our faces, waiting for the sun to rise again, and set, then we wait for night, then we wait for sleep. When will this wait be over? When will we supersede the human form and become pure consciousness? 

One evening with Neha and her family


I spent the evening with Neha's family in Seergao, a village close to Benaras. People were celebrating the birthday of Sant Ravidas, one of the important saints of Benaras. It was a wonderful evening. At home they fed me Aloo Paratha and Tomato chutney. In their simple home, I saw simple joys. Simple ways of looking at things, simple questions. Simple people going on about their simple lives. Very refreshing!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Be inconsistent,
Shake the norms,
Challenge conventional thinking,
Break rules,
Think harder, think lesser.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Shiva's Chivas

Idea for a film.
Man decides to get drunk and commit suicide in Benaras, Shiva City. Buys a bottle of Chivas. After he downs a few rounds, he walks the gulleys and ghats and ends up having many encounters with strangers. He loses all his money, gets on a boat, meets a pretty Japanese photographer, has dinner on a roof-top restaurant. Every now and then he tends to his hipflask. Life seems worth living again. Next day he quits smoking and drinking and begins learning tai-chi from a French Dhrupad singer. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two chai's with Raju

Raju, chai-shop owner, sitting next to me. We are talking about madness. He says "Sab log pagal hai" (everyone is mad), "kuch log paise ke peeche pagal hai, kuch log pyaar ke peeche pagal hai" (some are mad after money, some over love). He says the one who calls another mad is mad himself first. In Benaras madness is everywhere. Its also called Kashi. The land of Kashi and Shiva. The place where dialectics plays trumpets in every street corner, in every cul-de-sac, in every set of eyes. There is madness in the flames burning bodies, madness in the things that make up the surrounding, the light of the sun is mad with glory, the tree is mad about the sky, that's why it looks upwards, treefingers open to receiving the sunlight and transmitting them to us mad people walking the earth. We see the birds fly, mad about the wind, mad about aviation with that certain look in their eyes. Isn't life itself mad? To think how we have two hands, two legs, two nostrils, two ears and the primordial two eyes. Dialectics again. Polar opposites. Like the eight of infinity. Going up the curve, then going down again.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Ego has landed (020213)

Welcomed with street celebrations, trumpets and trombones, the musicians in red, Iranian vibrations from Israeli man with a Saz, Raju and his pearl-like eyes, the way he laughs, Tommy's wagging tail, jumping claws on thighs, rub on the stomach, colour of the sky at night (first time at night), fireworks in the sky while I sip chai with Raju on Shiva-Ganga swing, the water from the tap, Vishwanath and his nonchalance, the look in his eyes as I stare at his green hoody, timelessness and endlessness, uncertainty and impermanence. This is Benaras city. Welcoming you since 2000 BC, seat number 11, room number 11, eleven eleven, twenty-three hundred hours and eleven minutes on the clock. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Of Benaras, the Zen City, I am a City-Zen. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Return

I am returning soon,
to the sounds, the images of people by the river.
With my guitar I'll croon,
to the lights, the shadows of Ganga, the giver... 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

O’ Benares, what have you done? I find myself helplessly trapped in your story, lost in your streets and consumed by your fires.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It was a special evening. Sunset-time. Madeline Peyroux playing through my Bose, Tommy hanging around, kites in the sky, that deep blue something ready to happen. I wish I could freeze that moment. Si looked so peaceful as she stared at the sun, that perfect circle in the sky, that primordial shape in my eye.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Aghora Shiva Heart

Benaras to Dubai...

Oldest to newest,
Sense to Nonsense,
Timelessness to Time,
Chaos to Organisation,
Happiness to Unhappiness,
Gridlessness to Grids,
Systemless to Matrixes,
Circles to Angles,
Toe to toe to back to back,
Rivers to deserts,
Monkeys to Camels,
There to here...

And guess what
"I see three faces in the mirror."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I miss

I miss my Kashi. I miss the times on the terrace, two chai's, cigarettes, Tommy, birds, monkeys. I miss the peace in the oasis of the Shiva-Ganga lodge. I will return soon and hug the trees, pet the dogs, the calves and the cows, walk the gulleys and the ghats and find everlasting peace in a boat on the Ganges... 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bhootnath says "Enjai"

Chance meeting with Bhootnath (aka Vignesh), Aghori baba from Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu. Key phrase "Enjai". He spoke for hours about how he gave up everything, a good job in Chennai city, house, car, commissions…now living it up in Benaras, sleeping under yellow temple, Kshameshwar ghat. Homeless. Penniless. He spoke of "rounding" the breath, "dhyaana" (meditation) at 4 in the morning, of being pure consciousness. He took me to an internet cafe to show me his old photos on Facebook. He spoke of how food comes to him everyday, of the life post materialism, of a life sans luxury, of a life sans time. Living in silence…enjoying the energy of Shiva City. This city breathes new life into some people. Some people run away. Some never leave. I am mostly meeting people who have given up a lot of things and are here in Benaras to find salvation and Moksha. They just wait and wait for that day when death arrives. Bringing with it everlasting peace, a union with the sun. A union with the one… 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Only if...

"If I live or if I die", I think. What if death arrived now? Untimely and unwelcome? Would I play chess with death like in Bergman's Seventh seal? I would lose. My queens head-diagrams would be all wrong. I would be walking out the wrong exits and wondering what happened to all that time lost in the gulleys, lighting cigarettes, having tea. I would think of the times I was the happiest. Cycling around in Benaras wearing white Kurta and pyjama and the classic Benarasi waistcoat. In three colours. Its time to start thinking of happiness in terms of the non-abstract. How could I find happiness and peace of mind on a constant plane? Constant paradigm. Architecture of the inward arkeology. The Psychograph of Dara Okat, as it were. Constantly evolving and absorbed by clouds and river water. Fire has this immense power to suck you right in thru the fountains of its embers. Orange is like providence. It gives. Always. A new found trajectory of the sun. Beyond stars and silence. Its inconsequential. Time is irrelevant now. Its just a fragment of my imagination. I could imagine the most bizarre things. From the smallest little insect to the largest living land mammal. They are all life. Created by this amazing superthrow dynamic being, blue-lit and sky-covered. I have to come to myself and find my sun. The truth. I have to give up on any sort of habit. Any dependency. Got to become like a transparency, lungs all clean of smoke. What if death arrived now? Would I have any regrets? Or would I be unwelcome in that land somewhere from here, planet X. Or would the full stop in Benaras? 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Remembering 121212

A sunless afternoon on the boat to the otherside. What do we find? A Baba's tent with a red flag. He was not there so we sat there outside his tent looking at the illusionary Benaras "this side". Listening to Dire Straits's Planet of New Orleans. Suddenly remembered Viswajeet Ambat's statement "Benaras is like Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave". I am grounded here. Earthed. Wired. A kite-flying boy with a scarred face came up to us to talk, he came back with us as we returned to the pilgrimage spots and the apparently holy sections of Shiva City, the pedestrian alleyways, the ghats, the places where people come to die, to attain Moksha. This is Benaras. We come only by invitation. Sometimes we leave in a few hours, the city spits us out. Sometimes we stay for months, years. Remembered Mayank Pahwa's story of how he came here just to stay for a couple of days and never left. Same with his girlfriend. Never left. Like the Benaras ghost enters their bodies and refuses to leave.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Twelve, twelve, twelve,
Bodies on the pyre,
Delve, delve, delve,
Into all that's lost in the fire. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"I am enlightened"

Meeting at Assi Ghat. Daniel "Occupy" Balbony (Occupy meaning "Occupy your life"). American with Italian roots. Big-bearded man. Just like Viswajeet Ambat and Mayank Pahwa. The trilogy complete. We spoke for hours over many cups of chai. "I am enlightened", he said. Then he went into the details of sunlight and matter, humans and them being made of light, of how the earth was just star dust, "We are just stars", of plants, of ATP, the amount of sunlight required to move your arm and other things.

Oh, and ATP is Adenosine triphosphate, a nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. It is one of the end products of photophosphorylation, cellular respiration, and fermentation and used by enzymes and structural proteins in many cellular processes, including biosynthetic reactions, motility, and cell division. One molecule of ATP contains three phosphate groups, and it is produced by a wide variety of enzymes, including ATP synthase, from adenosine diphosphate (ADP) or adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and various phosphate group donors. Substrate level phosphorylation, oxidative phosphorylation in cellular respiration, and photophosphorylation in photosynthesis are three major mechanisms of ATP biosynthesis.

He also spoke of the rainbow gathering, of how he rejected Catholicism when he was five by asking the question "If He is so mighty and powerful, why can't He show us His face?", of teaching and how it sucks out so much energy but is still so rewarding, of God and how that word has been bastardised to mean "someone sitting up there pointing his finger at us telling us not to screw up". 

Yesterday I was with Asha Ji at the Little Stars school, Nagwa, Assi. Aloo parathas for dinner. It was such a pleasant surprise to see Suraj Nath (the music teacher) there. We just connected, like old friends meeting by the riverside. He has a spark in his eyes. His friendship is so simple. Uncluttered. Had a nice chai with him at Assi Ghat. So, two consecutive evenings in Assi Ghat. Somethings bringing me back to my base camp. Mt. Assi...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dead body tourism

An afternoon with Viswajeet Ambat over many chai's. He told me about the mysterious Japanese deaf-mute girl who comes to Balu's shop and drinks lots of coffee, two glasses, one in each hand. Of how she fell in love with local Indian boy. An indo-japanese lovestory. Of how he died and she got stuck in Benaras. Lost in the gulleys, whizzing past everyone. Viswajeet wanted to talk to her, he exchanged notes with her. Great concept for a film.

We went to Harishchandra ghat and sat there for an hour or so, talking, being silent. Viswajeet told me of the boatmen trying to get customers by saying "Achcha scenery hai, lots of dead bodies burning". Moni baba lands up with the classic statement, "Yeh zindagi bhi kiraya ka ghar jaisa hai, ek din jo jaana padega". Then we went back to Balu's chai shop, had some more chai and then we went to his guesthouse - Kishan house. Hung out with his neighbours Zeina and Tatiana, had more chai. Zeina spoke about how she gave up cigarettes after her Vipaasana course after being a heavy smoker for 15 years. I left in a bit, walked the gulleys again. Thinking of my life. What would be my choices in life? How am I to live it? For myself or for others? Where am I going with this life? Am I making any difference? Am I making the most out of my life? So many questions. When will I find the answers and drift into nothingness. Should I become like Viswajeet and "do nothing" or be of service to humanity? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Arteries & Trajektories
meeting in circles, hearts bend,
the konstruct kollided against an ancient wall made of stones...

Analogies & Anomalies
fleeting in squares, arts end,
the faces folded into a perfectly even ball of bones... 

Friday, November 30, 2012

The lit way

How the moon stares,
through branches, windows and wires,
through water.
A perfect evening for lamps,
I/we smile back.

And then Viswanath spoke of the Pilot who became a baba, left everything including his parents. Total renunciation. Why are these people walking in front of my eyes? Are they hints or am I just thinking too much into all this. Maybe its time for a second rebirth. Via the simple consciousness. He also told me while we sat on the swing about the trees that talk at night. And that they also sleep. Stories everywhere. "Shanti mein kushi milta hain", Viswanath said today. So true. Peace of mind is all we need. No mind. Just peace. A thoughtlessness. A timelessness. Ready for the next new second, ready for tomorrow. Not thinking, just being. Just being a human being for the time being. I'll stay for a while. Or go now. Goodnight.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Its in this state,
quietened by the stillness of soundlessness
that I begin to see.

Its in this fate,
frightened by the blackness of timelessness
that I begin to hear.


Onto an everlasting gaze, lightness brings with it the burden of the I. The Self slowly being realised through constant questioning. Of being with no one. Of being no ones. Just existing in the oneness of the universe's constant providence. Time now nothing, just a vehicle to transport one from this moment into what we call the future. Is it now? Yes. But it disappears. Now and then. Its time to let go of time and its clipped wings. The moment to be free is now. The moment to be light is now. "Halka khaayega toh mann bhi halka rahega" in the words of Viswajeet Ambat. There is no time for constant striving. For what? This instant is all we have. There is nothing more, nothing less. Its time to maximise, to catch life and look into its eyes. There is no seer, there is nothing seen, there is only seeing. Looking into for the time being. Time being. Like human being. Majority of humankind is timebound. We got to be timeless. Timestretched. With an address unknown.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Quiet

Two days without electricity. Made me realise how dependent we are on energy. Slowly everything died, my laptop first, then the Bose, then my phone. I was free. No strings attached. But there was no music. Suddenly there was a lot of silence. I could hear the ambient sounds of the city getting ready for sleep. But I missed the music. I think I am not done with music yet. I might end up giving up many things but music will stay. Until the end. I hope. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Baba Viswajeet Ambat

Today I met my mallu alter ego, the thin, curly haired, big bearded man Viswajeet Ambat. 30 year old enlightened soul. Discovered Benaras six years back. Saw me at the Pallab Das concert back in 2009 for the first time. We just connected. He is doing his sadhana in Benaras, practising Vipaasana sometimes, living a silent life without any baggage. No laptop, no chargers, no hard disks, no camera. Owns close to nothing. He said "doing nothing also requires discipline". The people you find in Benaras. Always have exciting stories. Of how they came to take an interest in self-enquiry. The reasons why they began to look inwards. He was a photographer in Bangalore. Shooting constantly. You can see his beautiful work here. Reminds me of abstrakt kollision. But much prettier. We spoke a bit over chai. We didn't exchange much words. There was no requirement to talk too much. He was in his space of silence and I was observing in silence. Its time to pause and reflect, once again. The time for stillness is now. Oh, and I moved into Babu House. Viswajeet stayed in the same room two years back. Serendipity in Shiva City.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A "fine" day

8am. Arrived in Shiva City. Auto to Shivala. Shiv-Ganga full. Driver shows me a few places. Finally take room in horrible dingy lodge Ganges Top. Leave bags and go hunting for a new place. Walk the gulleys. Decide to try out Babu House, Chouki Ghat. Oldstyle building. Room available on top. Terrace. Beautiful large Ganga-facing room with four big windows. Decide to take it. Pay advance. Walk to Balu's shop. Chai and cigarettes. Walk to Jaideeps shop. He calls me Rajni Kanth bhayya. Have Pav Bhaji. Go to musical instrument shop. Try out a sarod. Strings need to be changed. Then back to Balu's shop and then on the way back to the room accidently bump into Viswanath in Mansarover Ghat. Saw trapped cobra in bag. Apparently snake with two heads, moves both ways. Then to Harishchandra Ghat. See puppies drinking milk. Brahmin boys with chundi's below the moon. This time the moon has been protecting me from all evil. Through the whole bus journey from Vashisht to Delhi, the half moon stayed by my side. Back to Benaras. Then to Kedar Ghat. Chai and cigarette. Walk into temple. Pooja. Bells. Nice vibes. Then to Balu's shop with Lakshman Bhai. He has decided to be part of The Memory Project. Then with Mr. Fine. Someone who's name I don't know. The holy-things seller next to Balu's. I asked him "How are you, Mr. Fine?" and he replies "Fine!". A fine day. Meeting old friends in the gulleys of Shiva City. Seeing life unfold at every corner. All types of life. Live's of men, women, dogs, monkeys, cows. And then death. Also. Hand in hand. Always reassuring to know that we are just here for a few minutes. Then we go. Time for more realizations in this lifetime. Then. Long chat with Viswanath about his break up with Deepa (who apparently looks like mummy's early black and white photos), of the hidden stories of Benaras, the spirits, the lost souls. More chai. Back to room. Avishai Cohen. Writing this.

The creator's eye looks at the bands groove, the boat lit
The destroyer's eye looks at the hands move, the throat slit

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

If all goes as per planned, I should see the Benaras sun tomorrow. 

Friday, October 26, 2012


I love the riverside,
Unlike the oceans tide,
Drinking chai looking at the rivers pretty eyes,
Waiting for sunset, waiting for sunrise.
Here and now,
By the riverside
I forgot the last time I cried.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Memory Project

The film will document the stories and memories of residents in Benaras. Memories of love, friendship, death, faith & devotion and happiness & togetherness. It will capture intense emotions and illustrate a persons trajectory through these specific subjects.

What is love for you? Do you remember your first love? Do you remember the first kiss? The first meeting with your husband/wife...what were you thinking when you first saw him/her? How does it feel to be married for so many years? Your first child...those days when he/she was learning to walk, those milestones in your life. The love in a child's eyes. Of how all sorrow would end when you saw him/her smile at you. How has the love evolved over the years? How has having a child brought you closer to your husband/wife? What is unconditional love for you? About the memories associated with different types of for your mother, love for your father, love for siblings, love for friends, love for animals, love for God.

What does friendship mean to you? Do you remember your first best friend? Can you elaborate on some memories from the school days? About trust in friendship...

The memory associated with the first encounter with the death of someone close to you. Your relationship with that person. How did you feel when you first heard the news? About the ceremony at the burning ghats, your experience witnessing the whole event. Your life after this incident. A memory/anecdote about this person that will always remain close to your heart.

Faith & Devotion
Your earliest memory of God. Your connection with Ganga Ma. When did you first believe in her as being the mother? About the tales from Hindu mythology. Stories of Shiva that you remember from when you were a child. What does God mean to you?      

Happiness & Togetherness
Do you remember the first time you experienced immense joy? Of a special time from your childhood. What does happiness mean to you? What have you learnt from the community? Of living closely with family. Of being with your loved ones. Of living in the community of Benaras.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

That day...

That day the river looked at me
I looked back at her
We smiled...
...smiled knowing that the colours in our eyes were bright.

That day the river held me
I held her back
We embraced....
...embraced knowing that the moment was in sight.

That day the river thought of me
I thought of her
We imagined...
...imagined of a gracious way onto an eternal flight.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Feb 2, 2011

Arrived here at 12:30pm and drove in from the airport (600/-) with Driver Rinku to the Taj. Checked in and left immediately for Shivala Ghat - Shiv-Ganga lodge. The autoride (100/-) took almost 40 minutes and finally I got dropped off close by and had to walk... turning the corner I saw P for the first time.

P was wearing a black/grey wool double breasted winter jacket over a golden brown jubba/shirt & black trousers - with wide folds - above the ankles. He was barefoot. We hugged and I could smell the strong oil in his hair - and his feet looked chaffed and white - smaller than I remembered - his fingernails were dirty and his general appearance was disheveled but he looked happy.

We went into the lodge and I met Patrick with a grey cap...I had spoken to him earlier about P's 'episode'. Also met John (P kept calling him Joy) and Nina (kind hearted Nina).

P seemed rather delusional - he kept pointing out instances where his energy was changing (improving) the environment... birds flying overhead, dogs chasing him around, the numerous cows that came in our way. He kept trying to make eye contact with random passersby to see if he was being noticed - he gave aggarbathi's (incense) to people randomly telling them it was "Shiva Power". We walked from Shivala to Dasaswamedh Ghat and this was occasionally really good fun because the P I remember would resurface and it wouldn't only be about the "arrival of the super ego".

He paid his respects to a Swami at the ghat - and constantly made grand narratives connecting the chance coincidences like snow in Vashisht, the bomb blast in Benaras, etc., all because of him being there at the time. He also said that in the evening we would take a boat ride and see how the whole city would do his aarthi. We went on a boat ride back to Shivala - and he was fine for most part but would take offence if his request wasn't immediately accommodated - almost shouted at a motorboat passing by because it was polluting the river. He also asked the boatman a couple of times who owned the large palaces and haveli's on the waterfront, many of which were derelict and uninhabited, and asked him to bring them to Shivala to discuss their conservation and renovation etc. He was also repeatedly annoyed by all the plastic strewn everywhere and said that it was all going to be cleaned up...

He was with me till I branched the topic of him coming back…I said to him that I wanted him now to be with me and Mummy and Pappa and he said that he has come so many times and that all of us now had to come and experience this "shift". He told Mummy and Pappa and Meerachechi that he was getting married to a local girl named Ganga on the 14th of Feb. Suni said that this event was also marked on his Facebook. I'm not sure what the significance of this date is but there is no Ganga here…and there definitely isn't a marriage being planned.

He went away to Assi Ghat after we got back to Shiv-Ganga lodge and I got a chance to speak to Mummy and Pappa, Suni and Doshi. We need to get him back to Bangalore…I have no idea how we are going to do this. He has even refused to come to my room at the Taj saying that he needs to be next to the river for the "water energy" - "Ganga Power".

After a while waiting I asked Nina if we could walk upto Assi Ghat to find him. As we arrived there the Bhajans were going on and P was sitting with his jacket and green glasses. Students were sitting nearby sketching people… we walked up ahead and saw Soni - the little girl P had funded to go to tuitions - he kept saying how beautiful she was, what a nice smile she had - her eyes, etc… all this took on new meaning for me now in this altered context. We went to the lovely bookshop from where P had sent me some books. Met Rakesh, the owner, browsed for a bit…P made random conversations with Rakesh who seemed to humor him.

And then to his room - which was nice. A two room suite with a tiny attached loo. No running water -  a bucket was outside a private verandah filled with water. His room was spare with many musical instruments around - not much clothing visible - he lit a candle and we sat listening to his BOSE playing off his phone. The room felt comfortable - and he seemed normal.

Throughout the day I was constantly introduced to people, even strangers…Saddhu's etc…I met many people who knew P and some of them seemed vary and unsure of what he may say or how he may react. After this we had chai and then went to Shiv-Ganga as Nina had to meet someone to get her tix to leave tomorrow. P went alone on a cycle rickshaw and we walked -  after this he invited everyone at the lodge to dinner at Hayat - a Jordanian guy named Mohammed runs it and P seems to know him well. There was a little girl doing homework there when we arrived and P offered her his card asking her to write to him in case she needed help with anything - it was unusual - her mother was there too…and she looked petrified. We had hummus and pita bread - P had just one and we had a normal conversation about the kids, my work, Gautam's dad… it was lovely -

After dinner P and I walked back and I told him about how Ashokan kept pushing me to fund Prem's movies and find a way to get him to do more films. P said he was never going to do any more films - "his eyes were his camera, no one deserved it and that it was now all going to be for him".

At one point during the day when we were getting off the boat, I was telling him about coming back and being with us. He asked me to stop all this negative talk because it was making him all "hot" inside.

He was also constantly hitting on this Spanish girl who'd just arrived in Benaras - asking her to come for chai to see the sunrise, etc.

Just spoke to Vinu - he thinks this could either be a chemically induced hallucination or a manic episode... in either case P needed help immediately. He suggested getting him medication to calm him down after which we could take him to Bangalore. He also asked me to get Prasanna to come here to help get P back.

Feb 3, 2011

Had a very fitful sleep - took a rickshaw to Assi - dropped off my bag at Palace on Ganges and came out to find P standing outside - black waistcoat, same golden brown shirt and dark brown corduroys. He had a pair of shoes on. And the glasses.

We hung out near Assi Ghat for a bit with Soni and Durga (her sister) and then decided to head to Shiv-Ganga for breakfast. It was a pleasant walk…along the ghats - met a guy on the way who remarked that P had really lost weight. At Shiv-Ganga we went to the terrace at the back and saw Vinod, the lodge owners son with a large guy dressed in saffron. He asked P how he was doing but seemed aggressive and P ignored him. We walked around the ashram and then Ramesh Pawar the cook made P a double fry egg and some toast. He ate half the egg (gave the rest to Tommy, the bigger white dog) but had all the toast and coffee. Walked back to Assi stopping at Aum Cafe on the way - met the owner, an American woman who runs the place - P gave her an incense stick.

Came back to the ghat and sat for a bit. He wanted me to talk to Soni like I would to Anjali - then went to P's room - it was a nice time. We spoke about normal stuff - he excitedly played the guitar. His neighbor, Julien (a tabla player) came briefly to enquire about P's musical instrument collection.

I decided to raise the issue of him coming back again and he refused - even to come for half and hour let alone for a day - "Mummy and Pappa need to come here" - "tell them I'm in a mental asylum if you can't convince them about this enlightenment" - "you should be here, Benaras needs you - what are you doing in Bangalore - you are so unhappy doing all the commercial work - come here and take on this real work…I have arranged so many projects here…" I told him he should come atleast to see Mummy - a final visit - his mother to which he replied "Ganga is my mother" - "I know Soni better than I know you!". I couldn't really say anything to sway him even a bit. He finally asked me to leave - said that all this negativity is going to have a bad effect on him tonight.

Later, P called and I went to his room. He had washed up - was wearing the green army jacket and a maroon mundu (dhoti). Stepped out to a pizza place on the ghats and had a really nice time - talked of many things. He introduced me to an American/Italian writer and we had a wonderful chat about his book on an Austrian woman who worked at the Krishnamurti school and discovered Mata Anandamayee Ma - and the book deals with the conflict between the modern (JK) and traditional…nice chat. After lunch (olive pizza) we hung out for a bit at Harmony book shop. I stayed longer. P went on to his room. I quickly jumped into an auto and went to the doctors place. Dr. Gupta was late. I made a call to Dr. Thomas in the meantime and he suggested I give him three tablets once daily - OLEANZ, SERANACE & PACITANE and said it was a serious condition and that we had to bring him back as soon as possible. "Manic Depressive Illness". Dr. Gupta finally arrived - had a wonderful chat - he corroborated the diagnoses - and suggested ATIVAN instead of SERANACE - since the latter had numerous side effects which had to be monitored. I got the medicines and rushed back - late by almost an hour - reaching at 7. Told P I have a bad tummy and that I also puked - crushed the tablets in the room and rushed to Assi. He was seated next to an older man and was drinking a cup of tea - was really tempted to slip in the medicine when he left for a matchbox but couldn't do it. We stayed for the evening aarti. He said that whenever he came to the ghat the aarti would go on…? The pooja was wonderful - prayed hard for P's recovery - and the ritual concluded with all of us going to the river and throwing flowers into the river and I set off a floating candle as well. Came back to the ghat and P suggested going to Shiv-Ganga to eat Pawar's dal-chawal. I walked and P rode the cycle there - the walk was scary at times since some sections of the ghat was not lit up - managed to find my way to the lodge and told Pawar to mix the OLEANZ in anything P may order to drink. P finally arrived and asked for a banana lassi. He drank it all up and I hope Pawar got all the medicine in there. P was acting strange - repeatedly referring to the 26th of Jan - the strange thumping music - the sky lit up - Joy called him from Vashisht saying that there were indescribable white lights in the sky there - all these strange phenomena - he wonders if Bangalore too is experiencing strange weather or phenomena. Patrick made dinner for us - yummy boiled vegetables and bread - the veggies were wonderfully spiced and P ate well - left midway after the dinner - rode back and I left with Patrick (to show me the way) back to the hotel. Its 12:45… Prasanna will be here tomorrow.

Feb 4, 2011

Slept well. Woke up at 7 and went to P's room at 7:30. He was still fast asleep - woke up smiling. Said he'd had a really good night's sleep and wonderful dreams - "everything was back to normal - I was producing nice things". He played some music and then changed into a black shirt - with the same corduroys - and the black waistcoat - asked him if he wasn't going to take a bath - he said his first bath (post event) was going to be in the Ganga soon.

Walked out and he began trying to pet a barking Pomeranian dog - the dog bit his pant - tearing it at the calf - no scratch on P though. We decided to go to Shiv-Ganga for Pawar's omlettes - walked along the ghats. Met Dan, an English guy, at the lodge. Pawar again dropped in the medicines into P's coffee and we ate breakfast. As we were leaving P went up to the owner of the lodge and asked him if he could bring his Sarod to the lodge and play - the owner refused and P got really angry - telling him that he was going to be taught a lesson - he was going to be finished off in an hour. A bad start to the day.

He was in a bad mood - we decided to walk to Dasaswamedh ghat - went to Kedarnath temple - up many steps painted red and white - a slice of the south here. The temple seemed archaic with a submerged lingum. Walked to the river and took a boat to Panchganga ghat to see the Dharahara Mosque - a beautiful structure high up from the water - P seemed very sleepy and tired on the boat - maybe because of the medicines. We went up to the mosque - P went up to the caretaker/watchman and asked him about organizing a music event at the mosque -  a large event for the city. This would be a great venue - but P seemed to think that this watchman could help orchestrate this? We left the mosque and walked to a small ashram - then walked back to Manikarnika and the Kashi temple and onwards to lunch at a small place (idly + 2 vadas). P continued to have delusions all along the way - almost getting into a scrap with a honking biker - but generally a lot quieter and not smiling much - he said that the negativity from the lodge was affecting him. We went again to the chai shop - P was in a better mood now and we finally decided to take a cycle rickshaw back to Assi - both of us were really tired and P went to his room and I went to the roof terrace of Palace on Ganges to meet Prasanna who had arrived. Spoke to Doshi about forcibly sedating and transporting P to Bangalore. He didn't like this option much and suggested we think of this only after we've continued to give P the prescribed drugs for a little longer - trying to convince him to come to Bangalore with us. Went to the room - around 2pm and relaxed till around 5:30 - went to P's room and saw him fast asleep - he looked so peaceful so much like himself - like he would wake up and all this will be history.

Came back again after spending half an hour at Harmony - and he was still asleep wrapped up in his blanket. I woke him up and he was surprised to see me and said he'd slept really well - he got ready and we walked to the ghat for the evening aarti. He wanted to put the tilak on me at the end of the aarti and managed to sit next to the pujari after and do it - he also put the tilak on two young women… he sat there absorbing all the energy from the crowds - that's what he looked like.

After the aarti, we went briefly to Harmony and then to chai - he sat next to a random person and asked him who he thought P was and when he said he didn't know P whispered "Mahadev" into his ears. P called Mummy, Pappa and Gautam - happy - Mummy told him to come back with me to 'her' house so she could make all his favorite food. P said yes - maybe this is going to work.

I got more crushed medicine before we left the chai shop - and he wanted to go look for a cycle. Took a cycle rickshaw and went to a cycle shop - they quoted Rs. 2600/-. We quickly left without giving an advance and went to a small Sai Baba temple and onto an aggarbathi (incense) shop - after this we came back out and caught a rickshaw back to Assi ghat where Sunil (musical instruments) was waiting there for P. Apparently P owes him Rs.20,000/- for a sitar. P's always getting angry if anyone talks about money and gives lavishly/generously to beggars or cycle rickshaw drivers. We then went to Hayat for dinner - there was a birthday party going on and in all of the noise and confusion I was able to slip in three meeds with his lime soda. We had a really nice time. P was relaxed. Mohammed served us very late but we had a wonderful meal - P ate really well.

Prasanna met Dr. Gupta and it looks like the option of sedating him and transferring him to Bangalore maybe risky - and Prasanna thought that maybe we should forcibly get P admitted to a hospital here. I'm very uncomfortable with this and suggested waiting a few days more to see if he'll agree to come to Bangalore.

Earlier in the evening P spoke to Mummy and she asked him to come back with me so she can take care of him - cook him his favorite things - he agreed. Lets see if we can get him there without all the fuss…

Feb 5, 2011

This has been a very tough day - all professional advice we have received so far has been (including Vinu and Mini) to admit P in a hospital immediately. We met with Dr. Vasudev Jhanwar - at Deva Mental Institute - he said his doctors could come today, evaluate P and make a decision either to treat him at OPD (impossible) or admit him involuntarily.

Inspite of this my instincts tell me that we need to wait and try some way to get him to either Bangalore (ideal) or some other place closer (Ahmedabad?). Maybe Doshi can invite him to come there and it will be much simpler - going to try this tomorrow. Prasanna thinks this is wasting time and that we should go with all the professional advice we have received so far… But admitting him here isn't really a workable solution given the unsurity of how long his treatments going to take. And being so far away makes it difficult to attend to P. I hope he will bite the bait and come to Ahmedabad or Bangalore and we can do this properly. Doshi was very vary of taking drastic measures - "Isn't he operating ok? Is he violent? Does he pose a threat to other people?"

Feb 6, 2011

Up at 5. Went to P's room by 6:30. P was asleep. Got ready and went to the ghat to see the sunrise…also took the boat early in the morning - P is a bit aloof - but very energetic and focussed. We go to Dasaswamedh ghat and onto Kashi Vishwanath temple where Prasanna went for darshan. Spoke to Anna Chandy - she has agreed to come on Wednesday to spend a day with P and I think this will really help get some 'real' perspective on this. Gigi's also here tomorrow to be here when Prasanna leaves - Doshi spoke to P and felt from his conversation that there didn't seem to be anything wrong in terms of being coherent, remembering things and suggested that maybe this was some sort of realization. Not sure if I think so because P's insights into things aren't more profound and mostly they seem rather banal - also he obviously has a deluded sense of what he's doing and the way things are going to change. Prasanna and I had a long chat and decided that will wait till Anna's seen him to decide what to do next and if she does suggest getting back for hospitalization then we have to start researching now - air ambulance permissions etc… Also spoke to Sarla ben and miraculously she is here on the 9th/10th - it would be great for her to meet him.

P's really wearing me out.

Feb 7, 2011

Prasanna left today - Gigi arrived at around 2:30. A strange thing happened today.  There's a baba who sits near Assi Ghat - he's there always with a pet monkey. After lunch at the pizzeria, P got ahead and I was trailing when the baba asked me how I was related to P. Told me something had happened to P ("Koi hawa lag gay hai"). Asked me to take care of him and said that even though he maybe quiet/peaceful now things may go out of hand. Said he knew a guru who could help him - totally psyched me out… said he was taking care of himself - helping Soni - but there was some change recently. It was also uncanny how the baba seemed to know how many months P's been here…

P adopted Brownie from Shiv-Ganga lodge and brought him back to Assi ghat - such a peaceful dog. This is going to complicate things further. I spent the least amount of time with P today - he seems to be tiring of my company. Also chatted with Rakesh at Harmony. He actually brought P's condition up saying that he used to be much quieter and spend long hours quietly - now he seemed more exuberant and came and went in a flash. He's also told Rakesh about the "enlightenment"… Rakesh is very skeptical and suggested getting a psychologist to meet him but couldn't think of anyone - knew of Jhanwar but had little regard for him. Gigi spent more time with P and by around 9 pm was tired and wanted both of us to leave.

Feb 8, 2011

Woke up at 6 after a slightly restless night. Woke up twice. By the time we reached the ghats, the sun was out and P was there. He seemed to be ok…took a boat to Mansarovar ghat and went to the Andhra place for breakfast. P had 2 idly's and 2 vada's and some filter coffee. We dropped in at SK cool care and then P suggested visiting Pallab Das ji. I was really looking forward to seeing him. We were ushered in and asked to wait upstairs in a dark and messy room. Instruments were lined up against one wall and there was stuff everywhere. After a brief wait he arrived. He said almost immediately with P in the room that he was really sad about P - that I need to take him back to Bangalore with me - that Benaras was a bad place and he was being spoilt. He praised P a lot. Said he was special - a special soul - a large heart and a unique talent… said he was picking up so fast and then suddenly something happened - what, was not very clear - and Pallab Das ji suspected P was on some drugs. This he told us after P abruptly took off. PD sang for us - and excluding the rather painful and unpleasant conversation about P it was a really special encounter. He was amazing - telling us that it was Basant (Spring) Panchami and singing Raag Basant.

We walked back and P asked me to get a collar and leash for Brownie. Both Gigi and I were wondering what to do about this dog… P was in his room when we got back and we tied the collar on - Brownie had not eaten and was looking rather listless. P too was pissed off - asking what right PD had to tell me to take him back… I left leaving Gigi with him and Gigi told me that P was really angry and once again told him all about the "event" and random occurrences around him continued to have meaning - the woman washing the ghats did it because she knew he had come - a passing stranger was trying to listen in on his conversation.

I met them a little later at Harmony. P went back to his room. When we got there he was lying down - he suggested lunch and were off to the pizza place after which we returned to the room. We saw Soni on the way and she was looking really sad and not making any eye contact with P. I'm sure this must be affecting him a lot.

The dog had still not eaten and had taken a dump outside P's room. We cleaned it up with water and then I suggested that we should take Brownie back to Shiv-Ganga and miraculously he was game. We walked on the ghats and occasionally this got quite hairy with all the other dogs - but we managed to reach the lodge - dropped him off and surprisingly P didn't meant Jona nor Patrick. Didn't drink Ramesh's Banana Lassi - and left very quickly - P looked sad - we got back to Kashi tea stall - had tea and then he retired. I went to the room much later - at around 6:15 and the lights were off and he was still asleep. I woke him. Said he needed to sleep. I watched Isaac's Benaras movie and started watching "Love Actually". P woke up really positive. We laughed watching the movie - he was his old self. We then went to Karki's for dinner and it was really pleasant - uneventful evening - he occasionally said things about the event - but I could see he was restraining himself. After dinner we stopped by one of the pandals which were everywhere in the city with an idol of Saraswati - there was a small group singing - and it was enjoyable - finally we dropped P to  his room and came back to ours… its 12. Gigi's fast asleep.

Feb 9, 2011

Went to the ghat at 6:30 - P was there. He was in a really light mood - had chai. Gigi arrived a little later. Sunrise was lovely. Went to Aum cafe (Shivani Ma) for breakfast. It was a really nice time - P's always very relaxed. It really felt like he was now through with all the delusions and Kailash, the waiter, said he was looking different - and maybe metaphorically too. We went back to his room - I enjoyed my time - changed our room to Temple on Ganges. Came back and P was relaxing. He washed soon (unusual during the day - pre-lunch) and I slipped out once Anna reached the hotel. Met her and talked at length about the situation. We met P at his room - was very guarded and did not allow her in. Went to the ghat for chai. She was amazing. Got him to tell her everything and my feeling that he was now over his delusion since he hadn't spoken about it since yesterday afternoon was unfortunately unfounded.

She was very sympathetic - and asked him to come to Bangalore to share this with everyone - He said yes. He had been thinking about making the trip but was concerned about all the security checks and the effort… Gigi and I left him alone and went to Shiv-Ganga to get his sitar. When we got back he was standing a bit away from Anna - quiet. Decided to go to Harmony bookshop - after a bit he excused himself to go to the room and we remained there to discuss. Anna suspected drug use - fear of authority/uniformed police, etc. and TV and Gigi confirmed that P had indeed been caught for carrying drugs and had got out after bribing the cops heavily - this may have had a big impact on him.

P was very relaxed with Anna now and he played some of his instruments for her. We now had to slip out to meet Dr. Gupta and told P I'll take Anna out for a walk - show her some of the sights. Dr. Gupta said he needed to get back on medication - and so we decided we'd do it tonight - also Anna was going to try and get P to meet Dr. Gupta. Got back for dinner and the Assi road was jammed with Saraswati 'floats' all headed to the river for visarjan (immersion). It was loud and wild - people vigorously dancing - bright lights - very aggravating. Managed to convince P to come to Hayat for dinner. He was very guarded at dinner and I felt as though all the progress he/we had made had now come to naught. Dropped him back to his room and retired exhausted. 10:30pm.

Feb 10, 2011

What a day! Saw the sunrise with P, Anna and Gigi. Went for a boatrise with Soni, Moni, Durga and Sudevi - all the way to Dasaswamedh ghat - fed the gulls and P and Anna got off at Mansarover ghat to have idly's. Gigi and I returned to Assi to drop off the girls - then Anna told us to meet them at Aum. Anna apparently confronted P with the fact that he may need some help for his "tripping". P was pissed off. After waiting for a while P finaliy showed up - we gave him the medicine in the morning (in tea that I took to his room) and he was really drowsy and a bit unstable. Went back after Hummus to his room - and played sitar for a little while and then slept. I spent time in his room and waited for some way to broach the subject of his return. Somehow I was hoping we could all confront him with our concerns and then he would agree and we would drive to Lucknow and fly back. In my head this was going to work out. P woke up late and we went to Kerala Cafe. Anna confronted him saying that we all thought he needs to see a doctor. He said that he didn't and that all of us were ill - "I'm not mad" "Who talked to the doctor - who's involved?". He was clear, rational and forceful - got up and left. Gigi followed him and found him at Assi ghat watching the aarti. This was a big relief to me. From the cafe Anna and I went to Dr. Gupta's place. There we decided that we have wasted enough time and that P needs to be under medication NOW. Dr. Jhanwar said he couldn't arrange for the hospital ambulance/pick up as he was not around and this was an unusual case. He recommended Heritage Hospital - Dr. Gupta suggested we go there now - talk to the casualty doctor and arrange for an ambulance to get P. So we went to Heritage Hospital - met Dr. Anoop the Casualty doctor. He came immediately with an ambulance/helper and driver. Anna and I rode in the ambulance with them - very tough. Reached Assi. Walked up to his room - all the doors were shut. I knocked. P opened after a bit. "Who are you?". I told P to talk to the doctor for 5 minutes. He said that the doctor and his assistant need to leave now and that I could get in - I slowly slipped away. Went took a leak and as I came out of Temple on Ganges I saw the ambulance pulling away. The doctor didn't go through with it - said he would come in the morning with additional people. I went and spoke to P - he was calmly lying on his bed - "How dare you bring a doctor to my room?" "If you put one more obstacle in my way - like getting this doctor I will become the destroyer (metaphorically) and finish you." I asked him to come and he said he would never ever come to Bangalore. Asked me to head out tomorrow as planned to take 'that woman' with me - I left feeling some relief atleast for asking his consent one last time.

Came out and returned to the hospital to make payments - and returned - Gigi was watching and P hadn't left the room. At around 10:30, the three of us were eating at the pizzeria and I caught a glimpse of P walking down past the monkey baba - he looked like he was with some firangs (foreigners) - Gigi saw him from higher up and it looked like he was looking for something (no?) and then he went back - Gigi followed him and it seemed like he was back in his room. Its 11:55 now - I'm totally pooped - just hope things go well tomorrow. Gigi's asleep.

Feb 11, 2011

Didn't sleep at all. Kept waking anxious about the day ahead. Gigi left the room at 5:30 with the crushed medicines. He was going to try bringing tea to his room and hopefully P will drink - I left the room at 6:30 and Gigi and P were already at the ghat. He did not have the chai - I had an additional set of meeds. The ambulance guys (Dr. Anoop) said they would come by 10 and Suni had started organizing the charter. Many things had to work to get him back. P suddenly decided he would like to go to the Andhra idly/vada place near Kedarnath. Gigi and I went on a cycle rickshaw and P came on his cycle - we had to get there first to get the guys there to help with the meeds. P caught up with us and stopped at SK cool care. Gigi and I proceeded to the breakfast place and requested the guy there to drop in the meeds with anything P would order - initially he refused - but I think he saw the desperation in my eyes and finally agreed. P had to order coffee or this was going to fail. He walked in a bit later. I was having poori's but couldn't taste anything - he had idly vada and just as he was finishing the guy (God bless him) came to P and asked him if he would like his usual filter coffee. P was happy and had the coffee with the meeds. We walked down to Dasaswamedh ghat… the three of us took a photo

and then proceeded to Manikarnika. P wanted to buy a new sarod… luckily for us the shop was closed and I told him I need to leave at 10 so had to get back to the room. P was getting a bit drowsy and tired and agreed. I took his cycle and Gigi and P came on a cycle rickshaw. Finally P was in his room…and we waited keeping an eye from Temple on Ganges. At 10:45 Anoop and three others arrived with the ambulance. I went up and told him P was asleep in his room and that they could go in from the side door and it maybe simple to do this now… Gigi waited there while I went back to the hotel hoping that they would be quick… Gigi heard some shouting and then it was quiet. I was in the hotel - in the kitchen looking through a mesh. Suddenly Anoop and the other guys came running out and P was out - the ambulance was parked at a distance and P threw some stones at it and it too disappeared…now what?

P went into his room and came back out - and walked away…we all waited. This wasn't going well. Then we saw P come back with a whole bunch of people…one of them looked like the doctor from the hospital. They all walked in. There were a couple of cops too. Then I got a call. It was the doctor asking me to speak to P. "Do you know what just happened?". I told him I know exactly what was happening and that he needs to cooperate with the doctors. I was asked to come into his room to convince him. Went in and told P in as clear a way as possible that he needs to come with us to the hospital right away - then he showed me his broken sitar - "look what your friends have done". But miraculously P came out with us and after a brief hesitation climbed into the ambulance. Anna, Gigi and I followed in a taxi. At the hospital he was again refusing to allow them to inject him. We were in a  VIP lounge, cops, doctors, P and I. P said he had cursed me - told the cops that my dream of seeing P in this situation had finally been fulfilled. "You are not a true artist, a lesser man - and you will never get it." I came out not sure what the doctors were planning. A physician came out and told me he has spoken to P and that he has now agreed to come peacefully on the charter - and he was quite confident everything would be fine. I told him that there was no way P was getting into a flight without sedation - then finally they forcibly sedated him and wheeled him out into an ambulance. The charter flight was to arrive at 3:15 and we were leaving right on time (2 pm). Three of us followed in the taxi. When we got to the airport, P was sitting up inside but very groggy. We waited nearly 2 hours before we were finally on board. Two pilots, an assistant, Dr. Nitin, an anesthetist, a male nurse, Anna and I. I was sitting on an ice box near P's feet. He was knocked out. We took off from Benaras at 5:30. 4 hours to Bangalore. Time passed very slowly. P would shift occasionally but the nurse was really good and kept P comfortable. I had a sandwich. 3 hours into the flight there was slight turbulence and P was restless - but that soon passed. We landed at 9:30 at HAL. I saw Suni and Gautam waiting with an ambulance…incredible. P was now awake - he was shifted to the ambulance and I rode in it with him and an attender. P made eye contact but looked furious. We reached St. Johns Hospital and were taken to Casualty - where Dr. Shanti was waiting. She asked me what the problem was in front of P and he said he was fine. He wanted to leave and had come to be with Mummy and Pappa. Gautam and Suni arrived soon and took over - while I made my way back home. Pappa was going to be with him tonight. Saw Anjali and Sid sid - often felt that I may never get out of Benaras…

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Movement in Shiva's Loop

Blackened voices seen through amber eyes,
The river found its way and made its way north,
The curved world looked at me through numerous lies,
And in the end I made my way back and forth.... Benaras.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

29 Jan, 2011

I sent this email out to a few people after "the incident".
The real revolution has begun. The emergence of a new consciousness.
On 26th January 2011, the light came down...and music began. Now we will witness infinite music.
I want you to come to Benaras to see me.
Call me, it has happened...Call me if you want to talk.
Today I witnessed the dawn of man.

You are very special and I would like to see you again.

The premonition is on


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Benaras Standard Time: The film

The lines in his diary were crisp. He would never have imagined he would experience the worst 10 days of his life. 1st February to 11th February. He would never imagine he would see his brother disappear into the wildernests of a God-foresaken dream. A cosmic interruption. B came to Benaras for the first time on a wintery February. An emergency phonecall brought him to the oldest living city in the world where his brother, P, had apparently "gone mad". N, B's cousins friend, called him and told him something had gone "wrong". Initially, the plan was to visit Benaras end February but this phonecall changed that. He took the first flight out and booked a room in the Taj.

Prior to this, P spoke of his supernatural experiences in Benaras, of his marriage to Ganga, of a Valentines day super-wedding on a boat drifing along the Ganges, of bringing Thermal and a Quarter to Benaras to perform at a derelict mosque, of the strange connections to nature's ways, of birds and animals now coming together to form a spiraling circle into his own mind, of movement within Shiva's third eye, of brushing off negative vibrations...of, of, of. P experienced a shift in his consciousness on Republic day, 26th of January 2011. That day "Sheila Ki Jawani" was blasting everywhere through broken speakers, everyone was rejoicing, there were fireworks in the sky. That was the evening Dara Okat was born. P introduced himself as Dara Okat to everyone and welcomed his friends to Hinterland. Among his friends at Shiv-Ganga lodge, there was Cusack, an Irish guitarist, Jona, a young spanish Kurt Cobain wannabe, a yoga expert (also a tabla player), and a french Dhrupad singer and watercolour painter. Cusack came out of his room with a broom feeling the vibrations of an evening where something was happening. That night P cried. All night. His pillow was full of tears. Brownie, his pet Nepali dog, lay next to him but P had a feeling that everything would turn around like Brownie turning ferocious, pretty women morphing into ugly men, etc etc. He even tried his hand at the Sarod but it sounded off-key. The Dhrupad singer coughed all night. There was a bunch of pundits singing "Mahadeva" in a nearby temple. They welcomed the entry of Shiva into Benaras. P was Shiva. But he had to make it through this horrible night. Somehow he made it alive through the night. The next four days were the beginning of something new. Everything seemed fresh. Reverse-perception. There was light everywhere. P could almost float. He lived on the sun's energy, squinting his eyes into the harsh 11 am morning light. Eating only hummus and pita bread, he made it through the days with fake Ray Ban aviators and flip flops. He walked everywhere, took cycle rickshaws and spread the word of Shiva. He introduced himself to a select few as Master Mahadev. Sometimes he was P.

N arrived on the 29th of January. By this time, P had transformed totally into an urban Radiohead-listening Shiva. He walked constantly. He slept only four hours a day. His brain was lit up like a thousand Diwali lights on the Ganga. His mind flowered into a liquid state. He wished everyone Happy New Second as he felt that every second there was something new happening. It had to be grasped. It had to be related to. When he returned to his room that evening, he didn't even notice the presence of N through his sunglasses. She felt a strangeness in his aura. She called B the very next day and asked him to book the next flight to Benaras.

When B arrived, P didn't even visit him or pick him up from the airport. He made B take the trip right up to Shiv-Ganga lodge in Shivala Ghat. The first glimpse was terrifying. P was shabbily dressed, he wasn't wearing slippers and there were cows and goats around him as he held Brownie in his arms. He wore his classic Ray-Bans and gave B a hug. B didn't know how to react. This was the beginning of an unforgettable journey into the mind.


B first looked for N. She was out with Jona. When they arrived back at Shiv-Ganga, they all went and sat on the terrace as P lay on the swing staring at the sun. Everyone was concerned. B didn't know what to do. Uncertainty and impermanence loomed. P spoke in circles, he wanted to change the world. He felt he had the power in his 100hands to hold onto the sun. He told B there is a lot of restoration and architecture work in Benaras. He told B that the old forts, the derelict mosques needed to be occupied with P's friends and family. B told him everyone was concerned to which P replied saying it was him that was concerned...he asked B to look carefully at everything that was happening. There were signs and signals everywhere. Change was inevitable. There was disturbance in the air. B was confused. How was he to come to some sort of resolution in this situation.

P walked everywhere in his flip flops. Sometimes he was barefoot. His right foot had a powerful hit to the ground. He felt he was Hanuman sometimes with so much power in his hands and legs. He drank Banana Lassi and ate only Hummus (an Israeli dish made of chickpeas). He wore different shades of sunglasses, sometimes red, sometimes blue. Few days later, G, a friend of P's landed in Benaras. B needed the help of close friends to bring this dilemma to some sort of standstill. G was also going to be part of a mad rollercoaster ride in Shiva-city. The three of them woke up everyday at 5 to welcome the sun. P had the local pundit at the ghat smear turmeric on his forehead every morning. With his aviators and red lungi, P looked like he had landed from Tarapith - he was slowly transforming into a modern-day Aghori. For the outsiders and the locals, it looked very scary. Many people thought he was mad. P related everything to himself. He felt that everyone was waiting for a sign from him to be exalted into paradise.

The people at Shiv-Ganga also told B to take him back to Bangalore and get him treated. But P had no intention of leaving Benaras. He wanted to die there. He lived every moment in the power of the city. Wherever he walked temple bells would go off and he would relate that back to his presence. Wherever he walked there were cows waiting to greet him. He would feed them vegetables and advice vegetable-sellers to give freely. He distributed 500 rupee notes to the needy. He bought expensive incense sticks and kept them in his pocket to give to Saddhu's. He felt he had evolved into the next stage of man. It was his ascent to a higher form. He wanted to dissolve the physical human form and become water...a pure consciousness with no form. B noted everything in his diary. These were going to be unforgettable days.

But how was he going to get P to return to Bangalore?

Modern Rock (Dec, 2009)

The band came on and introduced themselves as “The Modern Rockstars Of Planet Hinterland”. The man sitting next to me came close to me and whispered in my ears “Sorry, my name is A.C. Qureshi”. It felt kind of strange. Someone feeling sorry for the very fact of his existence. How unfortunate most people are. They live their lives in deep sleep. Never do they awaken. And then they die. And that’s it. End of story. How unfortunate to have missed the essence of existence, of discovering the wonderful nothingness of you. Sorry, I got to run. I am going cycling today to see Benares through my modern, moving eyes and a focussed mind. Focussed so that I don't crash in the wonderful chaos of Benaras traffic and all its children - the cows, the dogs, the beggars, the Muslims, the Hindus, and the other thousand or so “religious” people, the cycle-rickshaws (or riska’s as my boatman calls them). Oh and he said today that his mother’s operation was a riksy one. Funny how they slip unknowingly into what they call “a slip of the tongue”.

Ok, I am back. I didn't cycle, I just walked to the nearby thali place. The girl there was very very keen on looking at me. And she would rarely take her eyes off me. I just kept smiling at her. And she just kept looking. It was fun. Indra Okat has already made her presence felt thrice today. She is nice. I like Indra.

I have found it, I have found it. Although, it would be silly of me to try and put into words what it is that I have found. I realized something today and, that also, I really cannot translate into words. The translation of the hearts ways and movements into text form is a hard one to do, but something a few great thinkers and poets have managed to pull off to a certain extent. For this I respect them and their sensitivity to life. Their rejoicing and celebration through a sincere poetic medium is something that needs to be saluted. If it were not for these people, this world would be quite dull and “scientific”. Hail, hail my good masters of art. You are officially in the list of the Modern Rockstars of Planet Hinterland. You are in. You are Hinterland. I should be announcing a feast soon when the membership to Hinterland has outwitted (unfortunately not outnumbered, but only for the time-being) the so-called religious people of the world. If someone could fly a plane, one of those smokey planes, to leave vapour-trails that read “Wake up”. That could at least give a jolt, just a push in the right direction.

So, what can I call this? (Dec, 2009)

Death in varanasi. Constant, continuous. The fire is on duty 24/7, 365 d-days of the year. Everyday vast amounts of energy, among other things, are expended in the Harishchandra and Manikarnika Ghats. My boatman calls Manikarnika Ghat the “burning palace”. Interesting image, that. Which is what Benaras is. An interesting image which should be looked at like a mirror looks at things. Just observe Benaras. Live in its time, in its faith, in its communion of Hinduism and you will enjoy the impact of what most people would call “Shiva Energy in Shiva City”. Its electric. Electric, since 3000 b.c. That sounds like a company. I should make a logo for that. The type within some sort of oval shape, electric in italics, b.c. in a beautiful serif with pretty edges at 5 pt. Yes! Ok, back to where we left off. Benaras. Today at Harishchandra I saw a set of very interesting scenes running in parallel. I had to shape shift within my eyes at 50 mtrs per second. There was the respectable, well-loved person about to be set ablaze by his weeping son in white robes. He was holding onto three people and really crying his heart out loud. Face lost in a trance. The three or four people around his particular pyre crying into handkerchiefs. Man comforting another by holding him. So many emotions, cannot for certain say that all these were either genuine, heartfelt or the customised conditioning system of expected behaviour. But I am only observing and reporting. I don't really want to comment because all this is only opinion and opinion doesn’t really have much of a role to play in the bigger picture of, err, things. When you understand who you really are you will become a sort of throughness and a sort of thoughtlessness. Back to the scenes at Harishchandra, just on the otherside a baba carrying a trishul (a 3-headed spear) came and stood close to another burning pyre while standing on a rock. And just behind me a mother slept on a bench, her children running around under her trying to remind her to feed them. But they are also playing among themselves while trying to catch the attention of mummy. No time wasted there. Suddenly she smells something and wakes up and jumps off the bench and runs to sniff to see if she smells another dog in her territory. Pups follow. And on my way home, I stopped at dimly lit chai shop on I-dont-remember-which Ghat. Girl served me chai. A pretty thing, scarf around her head, English lettertype on red woollen sweater. Her brother and sister (I presume), about 4 and 5 maybe, making funny sounds of birds and randomness. Randomness and thoughtlessness are absolutely wonderful to see in this world of logic and opinion. Oh, just remembered I spoke to two gentlemen at Harishchandra Ghat. They spoke of Hinduism, about the children who take the little pieces of body, the ones that haven’t burnt out, to keep them burning till they turn to ash. They get a little fee for grabbing these pieces at the fag-end (no pun intended) of the burning procedure. One of them, a Marathi, spoke of how Bal Thackeray is useful because he keeps India from becoming a Muslim nation. Interesting perspective. I am not for it or against it. Just a way of looking at things, I guess. The other guy spoke of how large Muslim families are. One husband, four wives, some eight to ten children. A way to overpopulate the world so Islam becomes a majority and takes over once and for all.  He also said that in his caste, death is a celebration. There is a 13-day party after the death where priests are fed. That was refreshing to hear. Atleast some of “us” hindu’s have celebration as a compulsory at some point in a man’s life , err, death actually. Oh, and the girl in the chai shop? It really seemed to me that Indra Okat was looking at me through her eyes. It was a strange, yet lovely feeling.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Das Dhrupad

I met Pallab Das, the Dhrupad singer, for the first time in November 2009. I was living in Assi Ghat then. One day, I accidentally bumped into my tabla player friend, Yogesh and he told me he is organising a concert in Vivekananda Ashram. I never realised this experience would change my whole perspective on Indian classical music and would be my first entry into Dhrupad. I landed up. I was open to anything. I welcomed any new experience. I also never realised I would become very close friends with Pallab Da and learn Dhrupad from him that winter in 2010 (more on that later).

It was an intimate gathering of about twenty people. Chai was organised from Balu's chai shop. I also met Lara there for the first time. A French tabla player who looked like a Bond chic. That winter in 2009, I would also spend one amazing evening with her when I watched her play the tabla. This city is just breathtaking. So much happens here. Every instant is fresh. Pallab Da began singing and the whole setting went into complete silence. His gestures and expressions were so intense. He looked me in the eye. I felt like he was singing just for me. It would have to be one of the best concerts I went to (some of the other great concert moments in my lifetime would have to be seeing Radiohead opening with "Airbag", seeing Silverchair's Daniel Johns in a skyblue suit, seeing Tool's Maynard Keenan's silhouetted appearance, seeing Porcupine Tree play the whole of "Fear of a Blank Planet" in one go, seeing Chris Cornell jam with a bunch of twenty-year olds and seeing Steely Dan with Yana Gupta in London). Back to Pallab Da. After the concert, I went and met him. He seemed very welcoming and humble. He gave me his CD and I told him I would like to meet him again so we exchanged numbers.  I went back to my room and listened to his rendition of Raag Multani. It drew me in completely. I was absorbed by his voice. I heard his heart sing. You can hear the piece here.

When I returned to Benaras in 2010, I got back in touch with Pallab Da. This time I was interested in making a film on him. My friend, Isaac Niemand was with me. We visited Pallad Da and discussed possibilities. We wanted to do a fiction film about a singer who loses his voice in Benaras. Unfortunately, the film didn't materialise but what came out of our meeting was I started going for classes. These would be the best times of my life. I used to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and cycle to Pallab Da's place in the cold winter to practise my "kharaj". Kharaj is when you practise your low notes and see how low you can go. You have to keep trying to step down half tones because in Dhrupad the singer is expected to hit really low notes. Just as the sun's ray's entered his room I was filled with the sounds of the raga. I went everyday in the morning for my kharaj and in the evening for my class. There I was introduced to the melancholic Raag Shree. I was also introduced to the light Raag Bhupali and to "Sakhi more piya ko dekho" (one of Pallab Da's compositions). We used to have chai after every class. "Chai ka chuski" as he used to call it. His mother started calling me Krishna because I reminded her of Lord Krishna. I felt so at home in Benaras. I never knew that these were the last days of my life. And one day a storm would come and I would become a vortex surfer.  

The last two days from my first trip

6 Feb, 2009
A million different things happened today. How do I start?

Morning: Went looking for Vishwanath. Didn't find him in the house. Met his daadi, apparently a great woman. So, walked my classic street, my gulley. Bumped into him. Was meant to. He was looking for me too. Sat. Had chai. Spoke to Milan. Then, 12:00 at Mona Lisa. Met Japanese pundit, Dharamdas. Class chap. Spoke of hinduism, the vedas, agelessness, "amar" and hey, he is aware of Doshi. Going to send him a copy. Then, Rodrigo.

(Brief History of Rodrigo.
 Rodrigo is an Angolan tabla player. I met him when I was living in London. He used to busk at the Tottenham Court Road station. We instantly connected. I sat and spoke to him as passers by were too busy passing by too busy to listen to him play. He was so passionate about the tabla and loved India. He specially spoke of Benaras. I accidentally bumped into him in Benaras on my first trip. Serendipity in full power in the capital city.) 

Rogrido and me spoke, spoke, ate, spoke, smoked, drank coffees. He left, Lorena came. She was looking for a violin teacher. Japanese pundit knew of a teacher, called him, arranged to meet. Went to violin teachers house. Sukhdev Mishra. What a great musician. Just outstanding. And a great soul, a brilliant aura, a sense of nowness. Warm. Drank chai after hanging there and hearing his genius and seeing Lorena struggling to find the Indianness in her and digging it out with an axe, made of double strong steel.

More. Then went to Sanskrit University to meet Ram Pujan Ji (person I met on Shiv-Ganga express on my way to Benaras). Another class session. A great mind. Aware of why he is here. Oh that reminds me of a docu idea - set of people interpreting why they are here in Benaras, movement and stories - roads, boats, those people's stories, the dying wanting to die. After a lovely time with Ram Pujan Ji, his wife and pretty daughter Souwmya, I was dropped to the riska (Vishwa called rickshaws riska's and said ricks for risk!) by very sweet 21 year old Sanskrit history student. Hats off, this town rocks. At the ghats, the fights between Vishwa and Manoj continue. I somehow dragged Vishwa out and left for the concert at Tulsi Ghat. Hopped on a riska after being stopped by cunning Saddhu wanting me to pay his monthly rent of 600 rupees. Funny. Had bhaang at Assi Ghat. Went for concert. Couldn't do lotus for too long. Got too blown. Way blown. Watching all the characters, like masks, all seemingly still quite lost, looking. Not fully satisfied with exotica Benaras. Left after "ded-gante". Hopped on riska, recorded Vishwa talk. So fascinating. Then, dinner at Luv Kush with same two clowns from last night. The drunk overpowering insignificant other and the red sweat shirt clad supporter. Waa! Kya baat hai. Ride back. Walk. Vishwa spitting everywhere, walking looking down finding nice places to make his mark. Not to forget the angry cow near Lila Guesthouse that wanted to hit us. Ouch! Class.

7 Feb, 2009
Another class day in the capital city. Woke up at 7:40. Hung with the lads Vishwa, Manoj and Milan having the first of many chai's. This place survives on tea. The real meaning of "a whole lot can happen over a cup of...". More than "coffee and conversations". Real. No fake superficiality. Only the heart. Totally accessible. Then walked with Milan to Dashashwamedh Ghat. Prof. Ram Pujan Ji is going to show me how to take a "snaan" (bath) in Ganga Ji. The water was freezing but everyone by the ghats said this is hot and it gets much colder. Sincerity in a life sans hot water showers. Everyday begins by giving up so many things I am used to. After the dip, got smeared with "bhasma" (Bhasma is a calcined preparation in which the gem or metal is converted into ash. Gems or metals are purified to remove impurities and treated by triturating and macerating in herbal extracts. The dough so obtained is calcinated to obtain the ashes) and the "third eye". Then we went to see the Jyotirlinga at Vishwanath Temple. Jyotirling or Jyotirlingam is a shrine where Lord Shiva, an aspect of God in Hinduism is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlingam or "Lingam (pillar) of light." There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India. It is believed that Lord Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, thus the special reverence for the Jyotirlinga. There is nothing to distinguish the appearance, but it is believed that a person can see these lingas as columns of fire piercing through the earth after he reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment. There are twelve Jyotirlingas in India and they are spread all over India. Mad rush at the temple. Somehow found my way in - slipperless, walking through a million separate experiences. Inside, every pujari was smearing my forehead with bhasma. It is so immediate here. Prof. also bought me a delicious breakfast of Kachori and veg curry. What a chap. Honest and cultured. Aware of his roots, of his culture. Unlike me. Its been west all this while, maybe time to switch east.

Walking back bumped into Hungarian photographer. Spoke. Exchanged cards. Then Vishwa took me to Assi ghat on the nav (boat). There sat and drank tea, hung with Rodrigo, went to see him tune his tabla, then took riska to Lassi joint. Had bhaang with V. Back on the boat back to Mansarover Ghat the nasha began as I sat with Somnath baba listening to him vent his anger on business, politicians, material possessions, money (and the lack of need for it). In the beginning he was pissed with me for not seeing him yesterday after promising him I will come. And then he sees me lighting a chillum with "nakli" saddhu. He is very angry. Took him for chai. At Balu's chai shop. Then when he split, I started shooting footage of the lads lighting up, singing, Vishwa telling me about the stray pups, Manoj sucking the flame from a match. Then packed my bags, hung out a little more with the lads. Sri Lankan boy learning Hindustani vocals stops to talk with me. Have two chai's with him. So many moments. Need pages to describe each one. Woah! They also know all the neighbourhood cows, the good ones and the "danger" ones. This is their life. Gave Vishwa my favourite Stone Temple Pilots t-shirt so that my spirit remains here by the Ganga. Dilli-6 has been the soundtrack of this trip. Rehna Tu.

Post Script
 On my way back to Delhi in the Shiv-Ganga express both my still and my video camera got stolen. All the photos I took, the videos I shot, all gone. What would I have done with them anyway. Put them up on facebook for people to "like"?