Saturday 24 October 2015

A little spark of madness

A little spark of madness.

"You've only given one little spark of madness. 
If you lose that, you've got nothin"
:Robin Williams

It was a Thursday morning,  I was at work in my office when I got the call.  The caller was a herald of good news.  I was informed of torrential rains in Matheran.  I knew what had to be done.

Aryan was at school.  Namrata was at college.  Neepa was busy.  
But sometimes, a man's gotta do, what a man's gotta do.

I left for Matheran.

On route, I received a message on What's app from a friend.  It read, "Every morning I get up and look through The Forbes list of the richest people in the world.  If I'm not there, I go to work."

Profound words of wisdom.....The friend didnt mention who actually said those words.    
I gave them some thought.  I wasn't even the richest person in my house, let alone my street.  But here I was on my way to Matheran, on a weekday afternoon.  

I arrived at the Dasturi car-park (Matheran is a car free zone and car's aren't allowed beyond Dasturi.  One needs to walk 3km into the Center of town from there.  Normally the car park is overrun with cars, so much so that people start parking them on the slopes leading up to Dasturi.  But today it was desolate.  Only a half dozen cars were parked and monkeys were jumping around on some of them.    

I picked up my back pack and started the 2.5 k walk towards our house.  A dense fog had settled onto the whole mountain. There was a light drizzle of rain.   There were no humans around, the path was desolate but the mountain was alive,  the birds were chirping and the monkeys were swinging on the trees overhead.  

I reached our house and opened the door.  The silence inside the house was deafening.  As I laid down my bag in my room, I could feel the quiet.  It was as if I had switched on some noise reduction earphones and not only were the earphones blocking the noise from outside but they were blasting silence into my ears as well.  I felt unsettled with this much silence.  It was overwhelming.  The occasional sound of a bird singing or a cricket in the forest outside seemed excessively loud.  

I quickly changed into my running clothes and trail shoes and stepped out.  The fog had become even more dense and I could now barely see 10 strides ahead of me.  But in running, as in life, 10 strides of visibility is a luxury.    Normally one cannot see what life holds for one beyond the breath one is taking,  10 strides of visibility was plenty to run.

The air was nice and crisp and clean and cool.  There was no dust in the air.   The chirping of the crickets and the songs of the birds was enough.  I did not feel the need for my ipod.   And then the fog got denser and the visibility dropped even further.  Heavy rains had eroded the trail and stones lay exposed.  The ground was carpeted by leaves.  I focused on each step as if my life depended on it.  I forgot the world, I forgot everything. There was just me and the trail.  

I heard the rain falling on the forest cover. For a while nothing got through as the water simply accumulated on the leaves of the tall trees and then suddenly amongst thunder and lighting it seemed that the heavens opened up.  Now extra large drops of rain fell in torrents.  Within a few minutes, small rivulets started pouring onto the trail and i found myself running in ankle deep water.  I found myself running through small pools where the trail was flat, I found myself floating downwards on small waves where the trail went downwards, i found myself running up against the stream where the trail went up.  I was riding the waves.   Large drops of rain continued to drench me and I felt i couldn't get any so wet even if i jumped into a swimming pool.

At a clearing in the forest, I came to a halt.  I wanted to look around and treasure the moment.  And what I saw next, I will remember until the day I die.  Not 25 feet away from me stood the most beautiful deer I have ever seen.  Our eyes met.  We both stood motionless for a few seconds and then in a fraction he disappeared.

I ran back home filled with emotions that I cannot describe.   Sometimes we experience, things which are tangible and yet not sayable.  Some feelings happen in a place in our hearts where words cannot enter.   There are moments in life so sacred that even whispering about them would be sacrilege.

I returned to the house, happy and spent and drenched to my bones.   I showered and changed and opened a pack Neepa had prepared for me.  A bottle of wine and a plate of cheese.   Our housekeeper Sushila who stays in a separate outhouse built on the grounds, had purchased fresh bread from the village baker.

I settled down in the Veranda of the house with my glass of wine, cheese, bread and "Memoirs of Hadrian".  

But as i sipped my wine and read this wonderful book, my mind kept replaying my run.  There will come a day when I can no longer run like this.  There will come a day when my limbs are no longer strong and when my body is robbed of its freedom.  But I know that when that day comes, I will be ready.  I will just have to close my eyes and I will be transported to that spot of clearing in the Matheran forest, that holy ground, and I will be standing there sharing eternity with that deer.  And now i know that whenever the day comes, I will no longer  begrudge the loss of my strength and ability to run for I have already lived a full life.

I am back in my office today.  It is another working day and as I go through the Whats app messages which have piled up, I notice the message that my friend had sent:  "Every morning I get up and look through The Forbes list of the richest people in the world.  If I'm not there, I go to work."

These are interesting words.  Money is terribly important in this world.  It makes many things go round.  I think that money is one of man's most important inventions.  Without money as a mode of exchange we would all have to turn into farmers or hunters to earn our means of sustenance.  Money helps put us through college, helps us with healthcare and helps us run.  It is fabulous to earn great wealth.  But it is equally important to spend it.

Osho says that, "The treasure trove which is not used is empty even when it is full, and the treasure trove that is used is full even when it is empty.  Existence gives us treasures, immense treasures, but one has to search and dig for them by oneself.  There is no wealth bigger than life itself and one who cannot see wealth in that will not find it anywhere else."

There are riches and then there are riches.  Good health is life's greatest treasure, its greatest wealth.

I Google and find out that it was Robert Orben who said, "Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America.  If I'm not there, I go to work."   Robert Orben was a comedian and a magician.    

I think that all great comedians are men of profound self-awareness because Robert also said, " Time flies.  Its up to you to be the navigator,"   I certainly don't want to spend all my days trying to get onto that elusive list of the worlds richest people.  I have neither the inclination nor the talent.  There are some other places I would rather be.

But, I am at my office today.  I do need some amount of money.   Neepa and I plan to go run a marathon in the United States in January 2016 besides taking Aryan to Disney. 

So today i have to sit in my office, but I am so sore.  The run on the trail has used up every ounce of my energy.  Every bone and fibre in my body hurts.   I am so happily fatigued.   But I smile because the weekend is coming up and Neepa wants to run long.   

And yes, I am on my own list.  I made it up.  I'm the Warren Buffet of happiness.


  1. Lovely post Amit. Matheran is indeed an incredible place. With the rains the forest of Matheran must surely be coming alive with the diverse trees ,plants , and animals.Running in a forest like Matheran is surely an experience beyond the senses.