Archive for karma

Drunky Taxis

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny was drunk for the third time this week at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. The barman was considering giving him a one week ban, but then he thought, where else would he go? The guy was already lost in life; why steal away one of his few remaining anchors?

He’d had one too many though, and was annoying customers; Donna in particular. It was a wonder that she put up with his persistent propositions and bullshit without calling him out. A guy would have decked him along ago. Maybe women were just nicer.

“Time to go home, my friend,” the barman said to Danny. “Better make sure you’ve got your keys. You don’t want to be locked out do you?” When Danny drew his keys out of his pocket to check, the barman swiped them. This worked every time with drunks. The barman pulled out Danny’s car keys, put them in a tin behind the bar, and returned the rest of the bunch to its owner. “Time to go home, my friend.”

Danny didn’t protest; he knew where he stood here. He was a hopeless drunk and his opponent was the king of this joint. The barman said, “I’ve called you a taxi. It will be here in five minutes. You can wait outside.”

Danny got into the taxi and asked how much it would be to Kalash, the subdivision beyond the Golden turnoff, way up the Lucerne Valley Road. The taxi driver said, “That will be fifty bucks, pal.”

Danny laughed heartily. “That’s a good one, buddy. How much really?”

“It’s fifty bucks, my friend. I’m giving you a break already. It’s thirty kilometres at two bucks per click, that’s sixty bucks, and at this time I could charge you half-rate for the return trip. But I won’t do that.”

“Fifty bucks!” said Danny, his head in hands. “Fifty bucks!” He started sobbing, then opened the door, cursed the driver and got out. “F***ing drunky taxis! Fifty bucks! Stuff it up your ass!”

The driver radioed his base to report an abusive passenger and drove away. Danny re-entered the bar. The barman called out, “Hey there, I told you already, time to go home.”

Danny told the barman that the taxi had refused to take him as far as Kalash. The barman shook his head and called one from the other company in town.

Danny tried his negotiation skills again, but the driver stuck to the standard rate of sixty bucks, and also wanted half-rate return, so it would now cost ninety bucks. “Ninety bucks!” wailed Danny. “Ninety bucks! The other driver was charging me fifty!”

The driver said, “Well you should have gone with him then, pal.”

Danny asked the barman to order him another cab, but he refused. Danny called both companies himself, but they declined to transport him.

“How much money to stay here?” he asked the barman. “Upstairs in the rooms?”

“It’s sixty bucks a night, my friend.”

“Sixty bucks!” he cried. “Sixty bucks!” He winked at Donna along the bar, nudged up and smiled at her. “How about sharing a room here, honey? Only thirty bucks each.”

The barman was stunned when she agreed to the proposal and led him off to bed. The barman didn’t know that in the real world, Danny had been a real gentleman. Donna had been a troubled woman, who Danny had helped, expecting nothing in return. She had later almost died from a drugs overdose, and his permanent vegetative state was the result of a stroke.

They were both now living their lives via virtual retinal projections. Some people coped with this change better than others. Donna knew that Danny wasn’t doing so well, and needed a hand now.

Moti Mahal

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, World Myths with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2012 by javedbabar

Mr Amin was not himself. Though he bore his usual impish smile, and walked around in his usual attire – shirt and tie, and sleeveless sweater – he muttered beneath his breath. Clients of Open Hearts seniors daycare centre were not used to seeing their manager behave like this. Zoe the cook overheard him when he came to the kitchen to make tea. He said, “It’s the law of life. It’s an ancient tradition. It’s biologically ingrained. It’s a moral duty.”

Half an hour later he was back for another cup, still muttering. “But now they feel differently. They say we’re individuals. We’re all responsible for ourselves.”

Zoe wondered if she should say something now. She tried to catch his eye but was unable to, so just said quietly, “Mr Amin… is everything alright today?”

“Yes yes,” he said. “They come once a year. They are coming today. That’s all.” He would say nothing further, and made his tea and left the kitchen.

Later that morning, Zoe said to Smuel the driver, “What’s up with Mr Amin? He seems really bothered.”

He said, “I’m not sure. Shall we ask him?”

They went to Mr Amin’s office together, and Smuel said, “Mr. Amin, you seem troubled today. We were wondering what’s happened, and if we could help you in any way.”

“Nothing’s happened – why should it?” He was hostile to their enquiries so they went away. Only last week he had told them of his dream of living in a moti mahal, a palace of pearls, in the next world. How he’d clammed up.

At midday exactly two cars pulled up. They were of similar make and model, except that one was black with number plate A1 and the other was white with number plate A2. A man stepped out of each car at exactly the same moment. From the black car came a black man wearing a black suit, with black shirt and tie, and black socks and shoes. From the white car came a white man wearing a white suit, with white shirt and tie, and white socks and shoes. Their features looked similar and familiar. They both looked somewhat like Mr. Amin.

The white man pushed open both sides of the Centre’s double doors, and walked in haughtily. The black man pushed open one door only and smiled at the Centre’s clients as he entered. If it wasn’t a crazy thing to suggest, Smuel would have said that they were differently coloured twins.

The white man pushed open Mr Amin’s office door without knocking or calling. He entered and closed the door behind him, and Smuel heard voices raised from within. If they got much louder, he would check to see if Mr Amin was O.K. The heated discussion lasted five minutes before the white man came out, scowling and cursing beneath his breath. The black man knocked and went into Mr Amin’s office, and their voices remained low. A few minutes later the black man emerged, smiling broadly. Both men headed back to their cars.

Smuel didn’t know how to handle this situation. As an employee of Open Hearts he need not do anything. No crime had been committed and management appeared to have the situation under control. As a person, however, he couldn’t stand it. Who was this white man who had upset his impish boss? And who was the black man who had soothed him?

Smuel ran outside and tapped on the white car’s window. The white man rolled it down and said, “How may I help you?”

Smuel said, “What did you say to Mr. Amin? Why were you rude to him?”

The man said, “I didn’t say anything to him, and I wasn’t rude to him.”

“Don’t be smart. I saw you. You went into his office and shouted at him.”

“Believe me,” said the white man. “He shouted at me first. He always does. That’s why I was in a bad mood when I entered. I knew what to expect, and now that it’s over with, I’m relaxed.”

“Why does he shout at you?” said Smuel, confused.

Smuel hadn’t noticed Zoe come outside. While he’d been talking to the white man, Zoe had engaged the black man. He heard a furious exchange between them. He never would have imagined Zoe using such words. He ran over to the black car immediately. Zoe was crying, so he held her. It seemed so natural. “What happened?” he said.

“That black man was nice only on the surface. He was rotten within. He came here to threaten Mr Amin. That’s why he was so carefree. And he only seemed quiet because his threats were muttered.”

“But who are they?” said Smuel, staring after the disappearing cars.

They saw Mr Amin peering scared from his office window. He was a gentle soul now, manager of a not-for-profit social service ensuring that Ma, Pa, Grandma, and Grandpa had something to look forward to daily. He was unquestionably doing public good. But before retiring to Canadia, he had been Minister of Culture for Northern India. He was a corrupt killer, a most evil man. The Agents of Karma tracked him everywhere, and once a year they came to check in. At the end of his life their collated reports would determine whether Mr Amin would reside in a palace of pearls or a demonic dungeon.

Mining Data

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by javedbabar

Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak. Gemma’s knitting was getting on his nerves today, and Mr Amin wondered why. She was usually a quiet presence in the corner of the lounge and her daily knitting was reassuring – something small and progressive in a huge unstable world. He liked to watch her knitting and purling, creating new patterns on new garments to enrich people’s lives. There were hats and socks and sometimes jumpers. Mr Amin saw that her knitting style was changing. Each stitch was smaller and tighter, as if pulled into itself, and she was working faster. He wondered whether she was working towards some crazy knitting goal, or it was just natural progression of skill

James seemed to be unsettled. Mr Amin said, “How are you doing today?” James didn’t respond directly but rolled his eyes and his head gave a shudder. Something was bothering him. When someone is the victim of a serious stroke, it’s hard to say what. Mr Amin held his hand briefly and said, “Be well, James. Be well.” He wondered what people did to end up like this. Was Karma just?

“What are you doing to him?” said Gemma, looking up from her knitting without speed or rhythm wavering. “He won’t respond to you. Why do you bother?”

Her insensitivity annoyed Mr Amin but she couldn’t rile a trained diplomat so easily. He said, “It’s always worth bothering with people, Gemma. You never really know how you will affect them, so I feel it is best to treat people kindly, and what happens after that is beyond my control.”

Gemma said, “Huh!” and clicked her needles more loudly. Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK.

He felt that he had better sooth her too, saying, “What are you making Gemma? Is it a hat?”

She brightened at the opportunity to talk about herself. “Yes it is. I sell them to Guru Baba’s disciples. Because of my career as a math teacher, I know about sacred geometry, it’s just combinations of shapes. They want a set of twelve hats with holy symbols. This one has OM.”

“What about the others? What’s on those?”

“Well, here’s my list. There’s OM right here, then a Cross, Star of David, Crescent Moon, Dharma Wheel, Khanda, Taijitu, Water symbol, Torii Gate, Bahai Star, Pentagram, and Black Sun, the symbol of mystics.”

Mr Amin thought back to his father’s funeral forty two years ago, with OM’s and swastikas chalked around the pyre. His father had risen from a small village to become Northern India’s Minister of Culture, a wonderful model for social mobility. He had become very wealthy and had the ability to get anything done, even the impossible – like freeing up land for power projects. Imagine if the dams and drilling hadn’t gone through – India’s development would have been hampered. Despite Mr Amin and his brothers finding daily blackouts exciting, in later years he felt sad that his nation couldn’t even keep its fridges running.

He was proud of his father’s achievements and had entered politics at an early age. He had risen in the diplomatic service before being himself appointed Minister of Culture upon his father’s death. He was shocked when he examined his father’s files though. Many were missing and the ones present bore great holes. Financial ones. His father had not been as noble as he had thought. It was India after all. Everybody was corrupt. His discovery shouldn’t take anything away from his father’s achievements. His administration was just tempered by practicality. Mr Amin wondered why he was thinking about this now. He hadn’t done so in years.

Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK-Tik-TAK.

James too was thinking about his father, who’d run a mining company in BC. He’d come from Ireland with nothing and spent ten years searching for gold. His claim near Golden had eventually yielded rich results and he had become very wealthy. Rather than squander his gains though, he had used them to build up his business, expanding from Golden into other parts of BC. James had loved the extraction operations. He’d operated trucks and crushers from an early age, mining copper, silver, nickel, and zinc. His father was especially proud when James made his own discoveries.

On James’s 21st birthday, his father had said “Son you are ready to take over from me. I’ve spend much of my life here, and now I’m going out to see the world. He had travelled to the world’s great holy places – its great excavations and constructions – Rome, Delphi, Jerusalem, Giza, Petra, Moenjodaro, and the Taj Mahal. In India he’d heard about a big mining company behaving badly. He’d discovered that to secure extraction rights they were destroying an ancient temple and forcing poor villagers from their homes. He’d started a campaign to save the village and temple. The big mining company had complained to Mr Amin Sr., the Minister of Culture, who decided that this foreigner was a threat to the development of his nation’s resources, and also to his fat commission. James’s father disappeared one day on a site visit, and his body was never found.

Now at Open Hearts seniors daycare centre it was Mr Amin’s duty to care for James. Karma was more complex than straight addition and subtraction. Fathers’ sins were also visited upon sons. Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak-Tik-Tak.

Black Van

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Zoe asked Smuel, “Do you like driving around all day?”

He said, “Sure, but it depends on the day.” He checked his mirror and pulled out from behind a tractor, overtook it, and pulled in again. “That, for example, was an easy manoeuvre. It’s always a pleasure driving on the Lucerne Valley Road. But when I go to Strattus – or God forbid, the City – it’s not much fun.”

“Why is that?”

“Traffic mainly, but also parking, pollution, tempers, and wasted time. I really don’t like driving there.”

Soon they were at Open Hearts seniors daycare centre. Smuel dropped Zoe at the kitchen entrance and helped her unload produce and supplies. He enjoyed their weekly shopping trip together. She was a real nice lady, that Zoe, and a damn good cook too. Her cooked lunch was his main meal of the day. It was healthy, fresh, and free. If he didn’t fill up here he had only junk food to look forward to on his way home. As he was about to leave he said, “And do you like working in the kitchen all day?”

“The same as you, it depends on the day. I’ve worked at pubs, diners, restaurants, hotels, and at all kinds of events, but making meals here is quite a task. God help me with Irene’s vegan diet, James’s mainly liquids, Gemma’s organic food, Albert’s wish to eat local, and Mr. Amin’s dharmic requirements. I wish that manna would come down from heaven and that would be the end of it, or maybe we should just cut a deal with Pizza Hut.”

“But you love cooking,” said Smuel. “I’ve seen you. It’s what you were born to do.”

“You’re right,” said Zoe. “But sometimes I wonder if I should do something different. You know, have a total change. Go somewhere new and do something new. But my Tom likes it here. He says, ‘I was born here, I live here, and I will die here.’ So I guess that’s that.”

Smuel had held office jobs for twenty years, but then one day his life changed. His wife had an affair with his boss and left him. He wondered what the point of it all was – commuting daily, working for that swine, and killing himself with stress. The girls were grown up and he could be free now. He took his share of money from the house sale and came to Lucerne, where he was able to buy a condo outright, so all he needed to cover were daily expenses. The driver’s job at Open Hearts was not well paid but it paid enough, and he could use the minibus for personal errands. No more office jobs. Just the open road. What could be better?

He’d grown to love the old people too. “Clients” they called them in official language. His first pick up daily was the manager, Mr. Amin. What a funny guy he was, he’d been a diplomat in India, but you’d never know it. He treated people with great respect, as if they were diplomats themselves. He had a strange way of dealing with problems though. He’d call you into his office in the middle of the day. If you’ve got bad news then tell a man in the morning and give him the day to deal with it, thought Smuel, or at the end of the day so he can go home and mull it over. Not slap bang in the middle of the day!

He recalled being in trouble for not completing James’s paperwork. The guy’s a stroke victim – doesn’t move much, and doesn’t say a word – so what is there to write down about him? “James did nothing” and “James said nothing”? Ridiculous. It was just as stupid as office work. Mr. Amin said that he also didn’t like paperwork but The Authority required it, so would Smuel please ensure that it was completed daily. Smuel had of course said yes, but stewed that afternoon, driving around in his hot vehicle. Telling him in the morning would have been better. Or the evening.

He really liked Irene. She wasn’t a big talker, but was clearly a big thinker. Some of the things she said were so deep that he’d think about them for days after. When she told him about the Two Laws of the Universe – those of Attraction and Karma – he’d viewed his life in quite a different light. It was true that he had wished for and somehow manifested a life of beauty in the Lucerne Valley, and a life of ease driving around in the sunshine, and that maybe he had earned all this in a previous life through meritorious actions. He wondered if he really had lived before? Would he live again?

Smuel was less keen on constantly knitting, grumpy ex-math teacher Gemma, though she had her moments – such as getting drunk at the Christmas party and performing a slow “knit-tease”. Thank God Mr. Amin had stopped her unravelling her clothes before she’d revealed too much wrinkly thigh.

Albert, however, was always fun. This ex-cowboy quipped constantly and dispensed range wisdom. His impressions of Chinese Cowboy “Yee-Ha” and Indian Cowboy “Ride’em Singh” were hilarious, though of course he wasn’t allowed to perform them at the centre because they “infringed politically correct protocols”.

Smuel drove the seniors to and from their homes, to various physical and mental doctors, on shopping trips to Squashy’s malls, and daytrips to lakes and waterfalls. The black minivan was perfect for these outings, though the Centre should paint it a different colour. It wasn’t cheerful. Mr. Amin said they couldn’t do that as renting it out for funerals supplemented the Centre’s income. Well why not paint it white and rent it for weddings?

He couldn’t help wondering if Zoe would like to leave the kitchen one day and hit the road with him. Not only to do something new, somewhere new – but with someone new? Why not ride a white van today together, rather than await tomorrow’s black van which you only rode alone?

World Food Council

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by javedbabar

“May I have a word please, Zoe?” said Mr. Amin. His impish smile had won over many during his political career as Minister of Culture for Northern India, and continued to do so now in the not-for-profit sector of Canadia. It was only that smile, he believed, that had kept Open Hearts seniors daycare centre open. So many times when it was on the brink of closure, bank managers and provincial officials had been charmed by it. It wasn’t just his smile though. It was a million smiles gathered together from every senior that came here and was entertained, fed, and listened to, and whose children and grandchildren slept better knowing that Ma, Pa, Grandma, or Grandpa looked forward to their day ahead. Mr. Amin said, “Which delicious items are you making for us today?”

Zoe said, “We’re having East Indian today, especially for you, Mr. Amin. Tarka dal, mutter chawal, roast chicken for carnivores, and saag aloo for vegetarians, plus some salad, pickle, and sweet.” She didn’t have time to stop working. She whisked gram flour, chopped coriander, and wiped down surfaces as she spoke.

“Mmm… That sounds delicious,” said Mr. Amin, licking his top lip. “What’s the sweet today?”

“It’s halwa with flaked almonds. It’s the first time I’m making it here. I hope it turns out ok.”

Mr. Amin said, “I’m sure that it will. When are you taking your break, Zoe?”

“I don’t usually take it,” she said, peeling onions and squeezing out tomato paste. “I don’t have time. I work straight through.”

“You never take it?”

She nodded.

“Ok, please come and see me when you’ve finished cooking?”

She was about to ask something, but he beat her to it. “Yes, after you’ve done the preparation, but before serving.”

She came to his office at 11.30am. Mr. Amin knew that there was never a good time for these conversations, but it was best to have them in the middle of the day. That way the victim wasn’t shocked immediately upon arrival at work, but also didn’t hear about it just before going home. They had half a day without the knowledge, then half a day to deal with it. He called this his “Half-and-Half” approach to human relations.

He said, “Zoe, do you recall the questionnaire last week? Yes, we asked for clients’ views on how we ran the centre. One of the questions concerned the food we provide. Did you know that? Good.” It was going well so far and he gave her a winning smile. She smiled back. Maybe he’d smiled too much though, so he followed it with a frown, and Zoe frowned too. That was better. “Well as you know, you can never please everybody, however hard you try. Some people always complain. That’s not a reflection on you. Not at all. But we should at least be aware of their opinions, and maybe we can make small changes to please them. Things that are easy for us to do, and will make them happy. Yes, yes, I’m about to tell you.”

He specified the complaints: “cold food”, “boring food”, “flavourless food”, “stale food”, “disgusting food”, “ugly food”, “horrible food”, “food that produces nightmares”, “food that gives you diarrhoea”, and “food that makes you constipated”. Mr. Amin felt that there was little merit in these complaints. These Seniors were going through a process of transition – written about in the Indian scriptures – with one life stage changing to another. Their Childhood and Householder days were long gone, and now they were disempowered Elders. Their opinions counted for little, even in their own homes. The questionnaire had provided them with an opportunity to flex their muscles, and show some authority. At least on paper they could still be boss.

Poor Zoe was shocked. “What will happen now?” she said. “Will I lose my job? Will you bring in prepared food instead?”

“No, no, of course we won’t,” said Mr. Amin.

Her eyes flashed. He’d never noticed the amber. “Who said these things?” she said with anger. “Was it lots of people or just one person? I’m sure it wasn’t Irene, or James, or Albert, or Smuel. They appreciate my food. I bet it was that miserable Gemma – doing her knitting and talking about math. What use is that to her now? Counting down the days till she dies?”

He said, “Zoe, I know that you’re upset by this, but that’s enough. I can’t tell you who said what. Don’t take it personally. Let’s think what small things we can do together.” He left it there, as it was time for Zoe to serve lunch. He saw her slopping food out to clients. Her scowl alone would give them indigestion. Mr. Amin’s Half-and-Half approach wasn’t perfect he knew. They had a further conversation after lunch, and his smile worked wonders. Zoe was a sensible woman who knew that every job had hurdles to overcome. She now accepted the situation, and said that she would do the best she could with the time, budget, and resources available. In his view she performed miracles already with the $2 per person per day ingredients budget.

That evening Mr. Amin called an influential old friend in India. He told him how Zoe marinated food at home so it would taste better for the clients, that she shared her secret family recipes, sometimes added her own special ingredients, was often too busy to eat, and went without food when people wanted seconds.

His friend agreed that her daily good actions superseded her annoyance at the clients. It was clear that she filled her food with love. The next week a registered package for Zoe arrived from India. It was a certificate of merit from The Karmic World Slow Food Council. Mr. Amin framed the certificate and displayed in the kitchen. It was easy for him to do, and made her happy.

Questionnaires

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by javedbabar

“What are these for?” said Irene, fiddling with the white envelopes and then holding one at arms length and reading. “The Authority, 10001 The City. Why are you giving them to me? Why don’t you take them to the Post Office?”

“There are questionnaires inside the envelopes,” said Mr. Amin. “I’d like you to hand one out to everybody here.”

He could have done it himself, but then what could Irene do? Just sit there doing nothing? As manager of Open Hearts seniors daycare centre he had to be ingenious at all times, which was the only way to keep the place running. “When completed, they should go back in the envelopes and be returned to me. Then I will take them to the Post Office.”

“What are they for?” said Irene. “I’ve filled out enough forms to last me two lifetimes. We all have. What don’t they know about us already? We’re old and we’re dying. What else is there to know?”

“Irene,” said Mr. Amin. “We are regulated by The Authority. There have been bad news stories about care homes recently, and they are a hot topic provincially. The Authority is doing some Quality Control.”

“What’s the point of doing surveys now? It will take them years to analyse results and implement changes. By then we’ll all be dead!”

Mr. Amin knew she was right. The Authority’s capitalist system was based upon dissatisfaction. Do satisfied people feel the need to buy things to prove that “they’re worth it”? Of course not. They stay at home and appreciate simple pleasures. You may as well do what good you could though. He said to Irene, “We’ll be dead anyway, so why not help future generations of oldies?”

“Okay, I will. Why not? What have we got to lose? Don’t blame me for what they write though. They’re not all in the best of moods, or even sane.”

Irene walked over to Gemma. She didn’t want to interrupt her knitting, so stood over her for a while. There was no appreciable slowing of her knitting and purling of purple and white yarns. Irene cleared her throat and said, “Gemma, may I give you something?”

Gemma’s needles slipped. She grimaced to herself, and looked up furiously. “What do you want! Disturbing a woman doing her knitting. You should know better than that! Who the hell do you think you are anyway?”

“I’m sorry Gemma. I tried to get your attention but you were too engrossed. What are you making?”

Gemma was still irritated and said sarcastically, “Can’t you see? It’s the fabric of life. The knit is what should happen to you, and the purl is what does happen.” She jabbed a needle.

Irene said, “I didn’t know that you took it so seriously. I thought it was just a pastime, making bootees for your grandchildren.”

“I don’t have any grandchildren,” she said. “Or any children, for that matter.”

Maybe Gemma was onto something, thought Irene. The yarn was a good analogy. The Two Laws of the Universe did create a kind of fabric. The weft was the Law of Attraction, drawing you along, and the warp was the Law of Karma, pulling you up or down. Us oldies must be getting wise.

Gemma said, “So why are you bothering me? What’s in that envelope?”

“It’s a questionnaire about the Centre. Please complete the questions and return it to Mr. Amin.”

“You must be joking. I was a high school teacher for thirty years. A damned fine one too. I’ve taught every person in Lucerne under forty to add, subtract, multiply and divide, and the smarter ones square roots, squares, integration, and differentiation too. And then they saddled me with so many forms to complete, lesson plans to create, reports to write, key stages to follow, observations to pass, and endless other bureaucracy that I had a nervous breakdown. Can you understand? Someone who could add real and imaginary numbers, divide by irrational ones, and multiply by transcendent ones with her eyes closed, was made to drown in a sea of stupid papers. Idiotic! Vacuous! Pointless! I never recovered and never returned to work. All I’m doing now is waiting to die. The last thing I want to do is complete any more forms.”

Irene told Gemma that she didn’t need to complete the form. She would explain to Mr. Amin, who would understand surely. She handed out forms to others more successfully, and then came to James. She wondered what to do with his form. He sat there all day, unresponsive to everybody – even to her, his one-time soulmate, so many lives ago, but he couldn’t even look back into her loving eyes now. That was life. Or should she say that was lives? She decided to complete the questionnaire for him.

It was a simple system. There were twelve questions, with a choice of responses – Good, OK, or Bad. She looked into his eyes as she asked each question, hoping for a clue to his thoughts. She asked him what he thought of the location of the centre, its facilities, staff, the food, the information they provided, responses to clients’ concerns, the treatment of visitors, their occasional excursions, overall cleanliness, healthy and artistic activities, daily timings, transport. “Anything else?”

He stared blankly ahead throughout her questioning, and gave no indications at all. She ticked OK for all of the questions. Maybe the conditions of his next life would be Good.

Who knew what The Authority would do with the results anyway? Would they reduce services to dissatisfied respondents for being unappreciative? They were just as likely to reduce services to satisfied ones, thinking that they were getting more than they deserved. Why should unproductive members of society be so happy? If everybody felt like that, The Authority’s economic system, based upon perennial dissatisfaction, would fall apart.

Re-Search

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by javedbabar

In Varanasi Robby had met an old man with waist-length dreadlocks wearing saffron robes. He was sitting on the banks of the Ganges with a mass of jumbled jewellery, and marigolds in his hair being nibbled by the occasional cow. He said to Robby, “There is no search; there is only re-search.”

Saffron-shirted Robby was fully immersed in India, and had even taken a Vedic name, Karma. He said, “What do you mean by that?”

The old man said, “Do you think that this is the first time we have lived? We have existed countless times in an endless universe! Everything is known already! It has been done already! You have no power. You cannot do anything. So re-search for true knowledge. Otherwise you are just wasting time.”

“But if time repeats itself, then why does that matter?” He was all for Indian holy talk but also needed logical veracity. Why would it matter? Why would anything matter?

The old man said, “This you must discover for yourself.”

“Can’t you tell me?” said Robby, annoyed. Why was he talking to this guy anyway? He wasn’t telling him anything new. Just another holy man wanting cash probably. But he hadn’t yet asked Robby to make a “donation to God”. The old man instructed him to bathe in the Ganga River, to chant great mantras, to pray to the home of the Gods, Mt. Kalash, and to make holy designs with coloured powders. “Do re-search,” he said and turned away.

Robby had pretty much forgotten the old man, but every now and then his silly phrase came to mind. “There is no search; there is only re-search.”

After many years of travelling, Robby washed up in Lucerne. It was a beautiful Valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains, cedar, fir, and pine forests, and glacial rivers. He spent most of his time in a cabin on the riverbank, and worked occasionally stacking shelves or pumping gas. It was an easy life but he felt that something was missing. The old man’s words came back to him, and also his epilogue, “Otherwise you are just wasting time.”

What did he mean by re-search? Did that just mean finding again something that was lost or forgotten? This sounded like a regressive activity. Maybe that thing had been forgotten for a reason. The vegan yogini he was dating in India told him of horrors such as witch-burning and widow-burning. Why would you want to re-search for these? Best to forget them.

Could he have meant research, meaning looking into things further. This sounded more progressive. You could look at old newspapers, magazines, and books, or search online. There was plenty of information on everything, you just needed the skills to delve and sift. Decide whether to trust Wikipedia’s 4 million amateur articles, or stick with the 100,000 professional ones on Encyclopaedia Britannica. Grass roots versus experts.

But surely even better than research was search – actively finding things, real things, rather than their records? Real people and places during real adventures! The Knights of King Arthur’s Round Table didn’t sit in Camelot doing research; they went on a Quest for the Holy Grail. Robby had heard that there was a difference between looking and seeing. Everybody looks – for example at a blank canvas, or empty steppe desert – but few people see – like Picasso saw Guernica, or Genghis Khan saw Mongolia. Underlying any search lay the ability to see. It was all about awareness.

But was not seeing also a secondary act, witnessing what existed already? Prior to seeing must come creation. Was this notion contained in the S of see, a fluid symbol of being like the Taijitu –Yin-Yang – symbol. SSSsss… like a snake. The serpent that lay coiled at the base of your spine, awaiting stimulation. Ready to arise, energizing your chakras one by one – your base, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown. Like the serpent at the base of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, that tempted Eve to offer Adam the evil apple. A being of power but also of danger. The serpent lives in both worlds – both upon the earth in light, and beneath it in darkness. By coiling a snake around Mt. Meru and churning the milky ocean, gods and demons created the world.

The old man had said, “There is no search; there is only re-search.” Was this his ultimate meaning? The S curving like the shape of the lingam – egg shaped symbol of Siva, the world’s destroyer and regenerator, which curved like Einstein’s notion of space-time. A completed curve made a circle, a circus, a circuit, a cycle. A beginning and returning.

Robby sat beside the river and repeated the old man’s rituals as best he could there. He bathed in the River Lilly, chanted forgotten mantras, prayed to Mt. Negra, and made holy designs in sand with his fingers. He recalled his Vedic name, Karma, meaning action.

Then he thought to himself, what on earth am I doing sitting on my ass here in the forest – a grown man with no job, house, money, or purpose – when I have the whole world and my whole life before me. Robby’s ten years of re-search were complete. He arose, got dressed and walked down the road.