Over the past weeks I’ve been visited by two modern-day Monks: one, an University Engineering batch mate, came riding on a borrowed motorcycle; and the other, a past Engineering Consultancy Job Colleague, came driving a newly minted Car having purchased it recently – after selling his version of a Ferrari. They hustled into Town, alone, in a span of two weeks between them.
The Motorcycle Monk was over fifty, bespectacled, balding-with a clean middle, guarded by short cropped border bushes; and the once lavish spread of beard of turning-white hair, was now shaved-off, brought down to display a clever lush Gandhi-moustache. We used to call him the Gandhi of our circle, due to the obvious looks, and spartan lifestyle – except the topless part. He was once a gone-far-beyond Computer Engineer and gave it all up under a Big-Brother-Is-Watching Syndrome. He tries his best to keep away from the Google, Facebook… and other super-sleuth, beneath the surface social media automatic monitoring systems. He warns me about the state of Surveillance Capitalism we live in, and that a carefree, untagged world does not exist anymore.
He contributes, in whatever manner he can, to Non-Governmental Organisation work and maintains a low ground-level profile. Somebody needed a motorcycle to be transported from Bengaluru – where Tamil Nadu Licence Plates are a horror – to Madurai and he grabbed the opportunity to discover more of himself on a solo ride and do a ‘motorcycle march’. Other than the mandatory Helmet, he arrived with nothing much of a riding gear, bending-off from the normal route, to see me at Attur. I had to give him the typical Indian style directions: go straight, turn left, then right, then straight, then right… and nevertheless dispatched my Manager to escort him to my Office. I was blessed, and treated him to a good vegetarian meal and some sparkling conversation. He thanked my mother-in-law for the wholesome delicious food (he said so) and touched her feet to show respect. I saw him off after more than an hour – only after issuing another set of rumbling directions to curl him back on to the original route to Madurai.
The Car Monk, having studiously learnt the ‘Art of Living’, was on a mission to serve humanity the Ramakrishna and Vivekananda way; and was on a solo drive to touch the various Ramakrishna Mission Math Pins on his Google Maps, by which he sweared his way-finding and sense of ‘direction’. I sent him my location on Whats App (and a detailed left, right, forward direction, which he completely ignored) and behold he was at my doorstep, arriving from Madurai.
When he entered my Office I introduced him to a pretty Customer – who was looking up to me- that the new entrant was a friend and previous Work Colleague. The Customer then gently reminded me that two weeks ago I did the same kind of introduction, of another friend. Same-same, but different; there’s a connection, I guess, in the small things. He sat on the cushioned chair like Swami Vivekananda – legs folded in the standard meditation pose and I could see the stirrings of a predominantly black and white beard on his shining brow. He wore brown beaded strings on both wrists and similar beaded necklaces, which seemed to weigh down his neck; otherwise it was a blue jeans and a blue-checked shirt attire. He was clutching a smartphone, which kept sending notifications every once in a while, which he ignored. He began his discourse and we talked about garment design and fabrics and then transcended into sensible eating and healthy living. His wife, a learned and decorated Doctor of Nutrition – a Wellness Coach, had put him and the family on a natural path of saving Humans and the Planet, besides educating the World on how to live better by swallowing the right kind of food. He declared that his grown-up healthy sons (he showed a photo of a pair of beaming muscular boys) have to this day not drunk any kind of milk other than the original mother’s milk. His normal diet consists of a careful mixture of fruits -wet and dry- in the morning; followed by vegetable salad for lunch and a small helping of non-white rice and vegetables for dinner. Snacking and oil-fried food was a strict no-no, as were most ‘white’ foods.
I lead him to the Dining Table for Lunch, and when I introduced him to my mother-in-law. He touched her feet in reverence: when I did I last do this kind of a thing? That’s a faded memory. We keep the conversation going over a simple vegetarian meal which we washed down with ease. I had the oil-fried appalam repaired with a direct-fire cooked one and we talked about how it tasted so different.
On the way out I, by habit, told him again about the left, right, centre directions to Salem Ramakrishna Ashram, to which he cooly said, GK I ain’t listening and do not intend to, my Google Map directions will take me there. It did!
Once the breeze of Monks had moved to less-greener pastures, I reflected on the emissions generated by them. I found myself wary of revealing too much on social media and started looking at food in an Adam-Eve sort of way. Apples, oranges and green organic vegetables danced in my dreams – away from the glare of Big Brother. Period!
Last but not least: I had written this Article a few weeks ago and was looking for an opportune moment to publish, when the Indian Air Force Balakot Air Strikes happened and another friend, an Army Major, native of a village near Attur, walked-in, even while I was trying to grow my spiral Abinandhan moustache. We spent the next one hour talking about heart-full meditation, talking trees and how we can live better lives. That’s Monk number three… and he too came alone, riding a car and this time there wasn’t that pretty Customer around!
Have a mindful meditative weekend ahead!
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