Thursday, October 29, 2020

Touched by the Divine?

 I've been thinking of this -- whether relationships can survive without touch. That the relationship between god and the human has thrived without it seems like a miracle. The first long-distance relationship.

These words by Sumana Roy, friend, poet, author, on Facebook yesterday, set me thinking.

Human touch heals, it is central to so many of our bonds, filial, familial, romantic, and those of friendship. 

Human touch can hurt too. There are countless examples of that. But let us not go there.

I have had one experience where I felt that I was actually touched by my Maker. Someone very close to me had to undergo an extremely complicated operation. There were well-wishers from across the globe offering their suggestions, mostly regarding the location of the operation and the surgeon who would perform it. In most cases, the more renowned the surgeon, the stronger the recommendation. There was an information overload, as it were. I was sitting in the hospital waiting room, waiting to meet the consultant and show him the patient's latest reports. And then, and I can no longer recall if it was a voice or a gentle touch on my head, or both, but deep within my heart, I knew with complete, utter certainty, that this hospital, this doctor, this surgeon, all were the right ones.It was an absolutely unshakable conviction, which got me through the difficult days that followed. All went well, and it truly felt like divine grace.

Here there was no human intermediary. And yet, when we encounter those adepts who are deeply attuned to a higher power, there is magic in their touch, their entire being, and even in the touch of their possessions. Sacred relics are also supposed to be imbued with great spiritual power. I recall one such touch from my teen years. My parents, sister, and I would visit the home of an old gentleman, part of our natal Satsang, and attend weekly prayer sessions in his room. He was very frail, in bed. When it was time to leave, each member of the gathering would line up, bow our heads close to his bed, to the side he was facing, and with trembling, fluttering fingers, he would touch the top of our bowed heads to bless us.Fifty years later I can still recall the comfort and healing of that touch. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Best Laid Plans...

 The NCR chapter of our family sometimes gets together for a Sunday lunch, and in Covid times, of course, it is in one or the other of our homes. I had asked the kids to come to our home for lunch yesterday, and, in the interests of making something different from my standard rajma chawal or chhole kulche fare, I decided to make bedmi poori with a railway station type of potato curry, and, in the interests of variety, matar paneer, pulao, and a Kashmiri walnut and radish raita/chutney. After my older daughter and her husband came in and were settled with their drinks and snacks, I sat and efficiently made the dough balls for the pooris. The others followed shortly, there was much merriment and fun. The gas meter reader very apologetically came in to read the meter, as Sunday is the day he is sure of finding most of his clients at home. Before we knew it, it was almost 3 p.m. Time for lunch. My younger daughter was assigned the task of cutting a fresh salad for lunch. ( The original two, a green salad and a raw papaya som tam, had already been consumed as our healthy snacks). The medium burner was a slow poke, so I put the kadhai on the big burner and started frying the puris. Soon, though, the pooris weren't bubbling up at speed. They remained pale rather than the golden brown they were meant to be. I checked the flame. There was no flame. I tried lighting the gas again with the lighter. The son ran and got the matchbox from his father's little mandir. Nada. No hiss.No smell. No gas. Not enough pooris. 

I called the maintenance office, which seemed to be manned at that hour by someone completely clueless. I called the tower security guard, and asked him if the meter reader was still around. He was still in our building, and was as bewildered as the rest of us. In a matter of minutes, it was found that there was no piped gas within our entire complex. The older daughter offered to go home and pick up her induction stove. It didn't seem worth the effort. The son suggested that we put the few prepared pooris in the casserole so they would stay warm, by which time I had stopped caring. I knew that I had half a loaf of brown bread, in case we ran short of rice too! We had lunch, we all ate well, no one needed bread. There was a lovely date and walnut cake, baked by my younger daughter, and icecream to follow. Life was good.

We've been using piped gas ever since we moved to this housing complex, over seven years now. I think we had one pre-announced maintenance shutdown when we had internal piped gas, piped from a cylinder bank within the Society. About four or five years ago the entire colony switched to an external supplier, IGL. This was unprecedented. About an hour after we had eaten, I checked, and the gas supply had been restored. The security chap also phoned to inform me that it was back. We celebrated with stove-top ginger tea.

Old Robert Burns certainly knew what he was talking about.