Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Mumbai launch

Have just had my first day in front of a comp after the launches and am taking the opportunity to record details of the launches.
Mumbai, July 8th, Crossword:
The day started off inauspiciously, with heavy rain slanting down like the slate pencils of old times, dimming visibility so that all one could see was a blur. By 10 am, news was out of CR railways halting in its tracks, WR running slow and of roads being flooded. The playground of the school, Ryan International, next to my house, was a sheet of mud-red water and the creek outside my house was flowing furiously, all swollen with red water.
The prognosis was dire. If this continued, no one, not even one sodden soul would show up at the launch, except perhaps the South Mumbaites. I did a quick crosscheck. Thank goodness Mr Hira, my chief guest, lived about five minutes from the venue; Shobhaa De too lived not too far away. Sathya Saran, the third chief guest was a little more problematic as I had no idea where she lived, but her office was in Lower Parel so if she made it to work she would come. Luke Kenny lived in floodable Santa Cruz, so the rains would most probably maroon him. All in all, a cheerless prospect. For a while there, I worried about it - then I surrendered. After all, Mumbai was in dire need of rain. A 30 per cent water cut had just been instituted. One had to be grateful for the rains no matter what the personal outcome. Besides ,if this is what God wanted for me, it is what I wanted for myself. More and more, I am recognising that whatever comes my way is not just perfect justice, but exactly what I need for my growth into perfect health and happiness. Am learning to go with the flow; to accept what is. It was with a relatively tranquil mind that I set off to work therefore, in a sturdy pair of jeans and a shirt, with my party sari tucked into a jute bag.
Fortunately, almost as soon as I started off, the rains began to dwindle and fade and the overcast sky actually began to look a little brighter. Through the day the dry weather held and by the time it was 4.30 pm, I was relatively sure that some of the many friends I had spoken to would be there.
I reached at 6pm to find that some of my friends like Indu and Usha had already arrived. It was heartwarming to see that Indu had already picked up two copies and Usha had picked up five. Others began streaming in and before long, the little plastic chairs arranged in one corner of Crossword began filling up. Luke arrived bright and early at 6 pm, looking sparkling in a white shirt. Shobhaa came next, looking as flawless as ever, then Satya. Meanwhile, we ran out of chairs and guests began standing around the enclosure, looking in. Mr Hira came last and with his arrival, the event began.
I think I spoke well, although I must confess I read out from my speech. I introduced everybody and spoke a little about my book and my journey. Then we had everyone open the book and at that point Shobbhaa said what touched me deeply. She said, "There are few people about who one can say unconditionally that they are wonderful. Suma is one of them." She also spoke about my being openly transparent, very sincere and said that the articles in the book reflected my characteristic earnestness. She also said that she felt a little envious when she read the title, "Travelling light", since almost everyone had more luggage than they could cope with. Mr Hira said that he thought I had made a big mistake in leaving Magna and that he was never happier to be proven wrong. Sathya said the articles made one pause.
Later, we had a discussion which was interesting and stimulating. People asked several questions like do we need a guru, how to serve the world and so on.
What made the Mumbai launch so special is that I felt surrounded by warmth and love both on the dais and outside it. Mr Hira kept making little jokes, including flourishing a revolting pic of mine that appeared in the Society Annual where I had on a fancy pant suit with lacquered hair and make-up. A very unlike-me image. Shobhaa and Sathya were warm and friendly and Luke was a real sweetheart. All my wonderful friends were beaming smiles at me from the audience. The sense of being elevated on a huge geyser of love was palpable. The excitement continued even after the launch, because a serpentine queue of people lined up for my autograph. A dream come true! Sure, most were friends, but so what? They wanted the books. We sold about 75 copies that night and even Amrit from Crossword was very impressed. I went home floating on a cloud. What a beautiful launch! And you know what, I can't help suspecting that the surrender helped.

Facebook | Aditya Ahluwalia's Photos - Travelling Light Book Launch

Facebook Aditya Ahluwalia's Photos - Travelling Light Book Launch

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Holding my baby!

Yesterday, I held my first book in my hand. Lovely glossy green paperback cover, a slim size, readable text, suitably understated design. Will post a picture here as soon as I figure out how :-). The excitement began when Aditya, my chairman, called at 10 in the morning to tell me that he had the book in hand. Tears welled up. This is the culmination of a lifetime of aspiration. Although fate cast me as a magazine writer all my career, I have never really been a magazine person. From the beginning I have been a book person, always preferring the eternal and lasting to the passing show. Life Positive manages to straddle the dichotomy by being a magazine dealing with eternal and lasting subjects, but nevertheless my allegiance is to the book. I know this is only a halfway house because it consists of columns from the magazine, but I prefer to think of it as a bridge - which I will cross to enter book land proper.
All journalists aspire to be authors. It is the next level for us. I am glad to have got there. Yesterday, my friend Santosh held a Guru Purnima at her house in honour of our late guru, Justice Dudhat. I took a copy of the book, we placed it in front of his picture and I feel sure that he has blessed the book and will help it to fulfil the intentions with which I have produced it. These are twofold. It should reach out all who need it; and it should also help Life Positive make some money. I see this as my gift to Life Positive.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Baby step 2 - My first workshop

Yesterday, I started a blog, and today, I did my first workshop for kids, albeit only a half-an-hour model; but as far as am concerned, it's a giant step. I have always viewed my ideal occupation as a combination of writing (intellectual satisfaction), holding workshops for kids and adults (emotional satisfaction) and crusading (soul satisfaction).
The second has actually taken off, one tiny step at a time. I taught the kids a half-hour module on handling their feelings. Was surprised to find that I was pretty much at ease and was able to hold the kids' attention right through. Taught them some EFT as well, cogged from friend Jasmine. It was wonderful to connect with children and imbibe some of their openness and receptivity. The energy flowing between them and me was fluid and free. My friend Aruna, who held the workshop put it well when she said that holding he workshop had opened up her heart chakra.
Hope to do more of this in future.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Witness to a murder

I have just returned from my morning walk which I take in a park near my house. A pretty park with hedges that are partially made of bushes that have these froth-like flowers that bloom in great profusion during summer and monsoon. I don't know their names but they look beautiful with vivid colours like pink, red, also white. I was admiring their abundant bloom a month ago until one day, I was aghast to see that the gardener had shorn them of their blooms in the height of their beauty,and levelled them down. Later, I found that the hedges had once again started sprouting little buds. Today, I found that the gardener has once again slashed his machete through them and the buds too have been massacred. I am traumatised. I spoke to the boy who collects our entry fees. He was indifferent and a little rude. His point was that the gardener knows best and that this was done to ensure that there was no kachra (rubbish) from the plants as they dropped their blossoms!
Another man also explained that this was done to encourage further growth. I don't know if I buy this reasoning. If the bushes are trimmed each time they struggle to blossom, when are they going to get a chance to manifest their glory? Soon the season will be over and their beauty will have been aborted by the park officials' need to keep a neat garden with level hedges.
To me this is murder. A deliberate throttling of nature's pulsating life force, by minds that are so focussed on order and neatness that they are blind to the higher order that emerges from nature's unfettered expression.
Here is the left brain mind in action. The mind that is blind to the delicate inspirations of life and nature and only wants to control and direct from its own narow perspective. The world has suffered greatly from this mind. Thank goodness it is on its way out. I say this even though out of the hundreds who walk in the park, I was the only one who protested at this. Yes, we are still the minority, but I know through my work in Life Positive that every day more and more of us are awakening. Maybe, next summer, the flowers will be allowed to bloom in peace.

More about the launches

Shobhaa De just confirmed that she will be coming for the Mumbai launch. I am thrilled. And an act of grace has visited me for the Delhi launch. Swami Chidananda of Parmarth Niketan, one of my favourite gurus, will also be coming for the launch. Am blessed!

Friday, July 3, 2009

My book is being released!

Hurray! After years and years of standing on the edge and being intimidated by technology, I have actually taken the plunge - and here I am happily swimming.
My big news is that my first book, Travelling Light, a compilation of my Life Positive columns, is being released next week. In Mumbai, it will be at Crossword, Kemps Corner, on July 8th, 7 pm. The chief guest is my former publisher Mr Nari Hira who I have always regarded as my real guru, because it was the respect and acceptance he extended to me that that really gave me the space to transform, way back in 1991. Others include Satya Saran and Luke Kenny. Anyone who means anything to me will be there lincluding most of my family and friends. Am excited. I see it as a kind of coming out event, after about 13 years of being in a kind of hermitical seclusion. Hope it goes well.
In Delhi, the event is on July 10, India Habitat Centre, Gulmohar Hall at 6.30 pm. The chief minister is coming to release the book.
Well that is all from me today. Hope to post in something every day or every other day. Would love to be able to express my views, news and perspectives here. Thanks for reading. Would love to get your comments.