Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Indian Tea Company

Teas. There are teas that are sweet, bitter, fruity, flowery, smooth, dry, light, strong. There must be thousands of teas out there. And it was so that Balrash who was enamored with the wonders of tea that he set up the Indian Tea Company with his entire life savings at the age of 32 (although his tea leaves were imported from Sri Lanka).

His little store is located on a bustling street in Mumbai, called Gandhi Marg. Men would come in after a hard day of labour, sat around, smoked their cigarettes, drank his tea and made coffee shop (or tea shop rather) talk. Balrash has a knack for guessing what teas his guests will order and for the uninitiated, he will recommend teas that he knows they will love. There was once a beautiful woman dressed in the most wonderful turquoise blue sari that glittered as she swayed, who wept after drinking Balrash's special tea blend and who later thanked him by kissing both of his cheeks. When Balrash was still reeling in shock from the kisses, she left the tea shop... without paying. Balrash then learnt to be wary of beautiful women in wonderful saris because one can never be too trusting of such people.

Balrash sees all sorts of people in his little tea shop. In the mornings, it is mostly the elderly with their canes and toothless grins, in the afternoons, it is mostly the housewives with their children in tow, or the drivers taking a break while waiting for their employers, in the evenings, it is mostly the shopkeepers, the bricklayers. Balrash would stand behind the wood-paneled counter and listen to the chatter in his tea shop. 

Proof of heaven - Eben Alexander

It is really funny how I find myself being sceptical about what was written in the book, when the idea of heaven/afterlife is central to Christianity. It felt rather cliched with angels, paradise and all. But then again, it could be that all these were glimpsed before the lucky few who experienced it and came back and hence, their stories gradually became part of the cliche. But this doesn't make it any less real. 

The story was written by a neurosurgeon who had the misfortune (or fortune rather) of contracting an extremely rare form of bacterial meningitis and subsequently went into deep coma for a week. His chances of survival were low and the general agreement of his doctors was that even if he had came back to life, he was likely to remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life (doctors are grim like that). Just when Eben's doctor was communicating to his wife on the seventh day that they should consider pulling the plug, Eben returned to life to everyone's disbelief.
And thus the tale of where he had wandered to during that week of coma began. Eben first ended up at an assumingly hell, which he termed as the "realm of the earthworm's eye view" and subsequently ascended to paradise, accompanied by a girl with butterfly wings. He had no recollection of who he was nor did he remember anything from the past. He saw faces that he thought familiar but could not recognize.
During his wandering, he was able to feel the prayers of others and also a sense of warmth/ deep love.
I think all that he said is steeped in the Christian faith. We know that God is love and it was only natural that he felt the love of God while in heaven. What puzzled me a little was that he never claimed to have met God during his stay in heaven. Maybe the idea of God as a being is man's way of making God easier to understand and more palatable. But really perhaps God could be just a presence, an energy, or just this warmth/comfort/ love, etc. 
Eben went on to say that the consciousness is more real than the physical/ material world, including our body. He also said that we are one with the universe, that all of us are linked to one another. Maybe we really are. I don't know. I think in some theories of quantum physics, the same kind of argument has been made, that when we are all broken down into the tiniest particle/ atom, we realize that we are all  interconnected.
Anyway this experience changed him completely and he wanted his readers to be moved enough to recognize the fact that we are all eternal and deeply loved by our Creator. 
I know all these theoretically but find myself struggling to believe. I believe in God, I believe He is love, yet the concept of eternity is so foreign and at times, frightening to me. I know how the entire Christian faith is founded on one fundamental truth- love and yet, I find myself doubting and asking why I can't seem to feel God's love.
I want very much to believe in heaven, in God's unconditional love, but sometimes I just feel I have not found the key yet. 
Anyhow Eben was bent on sharing his stories in the hope that he could help others who are facing impending death with fear. Most of his colleagues/ scientists who heard his story tried to explain that his experience could be due to the brain's creation (much like dreams) but the argument he made was that the meningitis had rendered his neocortex and limbic system useless. Hence it was impossible that his brain could create such intricate and vivid "dreams". As he continued to share his story and met with skepticism, he himself was also starting to lose faith that all he experienced was real. It was then he received a photo from his biological family (Eben was adopted and never knew his biological family till a few years before his coma). The photo was that of his biological sister who had died and one whom he had never met before. He recognized his sister as the girl with the butterfly wings. It was then that he was finally convinced that all he had been through was real. I liked the analogy he made that he felt like the boy in a fairytale who had travelled to other worlds and returned to earth to find that it had all been a dream. However, upon reaching into his pocket, he found a handful of sand from the other world and realized it had all been real.

Completed: 30 June 11:58pm

Monday, June 29, 2015

Proof of heaven- eben Alexander

True love casts out all fear. I was reminded again of this verse reading the new afterword in the book. Wanted to write this down before I forgot. I really like this verse and it was one of the verses that spoke to me when I became reacquainted with Christianity. 
More about the book after I've finished it.

A cat, a hat, and a piece of string-Joanne Harris

Love most of Joanne Harris' books. There's always something mischievous and mystical going on in her stories. This book is a collection of short stories and every story begins with how she obtains the inspiration for the plot. The stories are creative and entertaining. I especially love the stories about Hope and Faith, two elderly ladies at a home for the aged.  There were two stories which featured Hope and Faith- one was about how they were barred from an excursion by a staff who was a bully, but through Chris' (a kinder staff) cleverness, was able to transport themselves to a beach with the use of candles, sand, etc. It made me kinda sad at the part when faith and hope would go through travel brochures but knew they would never be able to go to the places they saw in the brochures. 
The other story was about how they outwitted the bully by setting off a false fire alarm and locking the bully up.
It does frighten me a little to think of the future. Would I end up like Faith and Hope in a home for the aged? The idea of home for the aged is pretty much akin to an orphanage. One is abandoned and has to live amongst non-blood relations and adopt them as family. 

Stories are like Russian dolls; open them up, and in each one you’ll find another story.


Fitzgerald always wrote such beautiful prose...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The light

There is a light that shines above,
A light that we sometimes fail to see.
Some call it the guardian angel,
Well, some just fail to believe.

In a world where darkness threatens to engulf us,
We need a little light,
To remind us that we will be safe 
That the darkness will never win.

Sometimes when fear is planted in our hearts,
We foolishly wander away from that light.
But the light, it stays and continues to burn,
Like the North Star,
It will lead us home. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Into the light

The judges sit in their ivory towers
With a wave of their hands
We are put to death.

Don't you dare judge
What you know not of.
The torments that have wretched our desperate souls.

Can you ever be sure
The difference between good and evil?
Can you ever be sure that your eyes are not blinded by the darkness that surrounds you?

Are we ever wise?
Or are we just fools
Pretending otherwise.

In this world, the once great divide
Between black and white
Is no longer clear.

Sometimes we fall,
Deeper and deeper we fall
Into that bottomless pit,
And sometimes the fire below consumes us.

We are just here for a while
We are just waiting for a glimpse of heaven
For that light, for that light,
We await in ernestness. 

For that light to save us from our eternal damnation.
For that light, into that light