August 15th, 2018

Pearls and Perils.4

Jalali Baba has never promised nirvana. He promises nothing, and delivers on this promise. He is only one of the many mentors who have impressed upon me the need to deliver on my promises. There is that smart way of saying it, which stresses the importance of under-committing and over-delivering, and highlights the perils of over-committing and under-delivering – but its a smart way of saying things, and Jalali Baba does not accord me much intellectual prowess, not enough to expect me to decipher a smart way of saying things. He breaks it to me simply, and not gently.

I have not the confidence to do simple things. The good thing about complex things is that they are a lot like singing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s songs – you are not expected to do very well; and when you do badly, not many blame you for it. Jalali Baba likes to think he keeps it simple, and by his standards he does too. Its just that he finds simplicity in complexity and complexity in simplicity. He sits up all night and reads and re-reads “A Brief History of Time”, primarily because it feeds his enormous ego to realize that he finds it simple, and that he gets it, but also because he finds it simple, and he gets it too! Compare that with the fact that he loses his way on the Shaikh Zayed Road, which is more than a 100 kilometers of a long straight stretch of road, and the rumour that he had once lost his way coming down in an elevator! – and you know what I am talking about. Simple is simply complex and complex is but simple in JBland.

Is it any wonder then that Jalali Baba does not promise nirvana? Saab, disillusioned as he is with Jalali Baba, insists that Jalali Baba refuses to promise nirvana because he refuses to share his Marlboro and Gitanes cigarettes. One cannot blame Saab for his take on the matter, Jalali Baba after all does seem to ‘eek out’ nirvana from being at the other end of the cigarette. It was probably Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi who wrote in one of his books that a cigarette is a contraption which has fire at on end and a fool at the other. I have not read Yousufi in a long time, which is why I am not really sure if it was in a Yousufi book that I’d read this ‘fact’; at the same time, I have hardly read anything but Yousufi in a long long time, so this bit of information had to be in one of his books to linger around in a corner of my mind waiting for the spotlight to be diverted on it.

Between Jalali baba and I, we have an understanding. We have indeed more than an understanding. Indeed it can be said without an iota of a doubt that we understand each other. I understand Jalali Baba, and the eccentric ways in which things work in his demented world – or ought to, and he understands that I understand that; he thus understands as much of me as is necessary to be understood for our platonic relationship to prosper. Among his many JBiic attributes, Jalali Baba takes pride in his ability to gather and store in his exalted mind heaps upon heaps of information that no-one ever will need to look for, and that promises to contribute in no way to the betterment of this world and those who co-inhabit it with Jalali Baba. Such information, Jalali Baba often teaches me, which serves no purpose, nor promises to serve any, is the purest kind of information, and purity, it is common knowledge, is the corner-stone of all journeys spiritual and therefore highly desireable. If Jalali Baba were to know anything more about me, more than what he already knows that is, it would render all his information about me impure, and our journey on the path of spiritual misguidance will turn into a quest in a labyrinth. This is why, he insists, I should refrain from subjecting him to any such information that might be classified as useful or beneficial.

I wake up every morning and wonder if I should tell him correctly when he puts me the rhetorical “How are you?” question upon meeting. What if such an answer could fall under the perilous answers that carry meaningful information. My only saving grace is that he hardly waits for my answer after asking the question, and launches into dispersing and dispensing with that day’s pearls of spiritual guidance almost in the same breath as he poses the question in.

The day he pauses long enough after asking the question, I know I will be found out; I know Jalali Baba will hold me responsible for having compromised the purity of information. I live in perpetual fear of eternal guilt.

For once, can’t think of a title.1

There’s a little piece that plays when Elliot is done talking with his cellmate towards the end of the movie “Bedazzled”, and it is brilliant. What is amazing is that I have seen the movie at least a dozen times, and I had never noticed it before. Perhaps, I was never in the mood I am today. Perhaps, one of the pre-requisites to get into that mood is to have seen the movie a dozen times without having noticed that lovely bit of music. After all, everything we are led into today is a consequence of all the things we were led into in the preceding units of time. We are where we are, because we were where we were; wherever we were when we were where we were, whenever we were wherever we were before we got to where we are. It might sound a little convulated, and a tad contrived, but its the truth.

For the longest time, I was pre-occupied with making sense. I was also quite convinced that I did make sense more often than not. Then, one day, I ran into Saab. We grabbed a couple of shawarmas each, and after careful contemplation of facts deduced that if a shawarma were made without onions, and with extra tahina, it tasted infintely better; however, it posed an increased risk to one’s attire since the tahina managed to leak out the wrong end of the shawarma, and onto one’s blue shirt – which by the way is the color on which the creamy tahina stands out the most. For those who are wondering, “Yes! There is a right and a wrong end of the shawarma” and “No! The shawarma in Pakistan is nowhere close to being as good as the original thing – minus the (basal) onion and with extra tahina of course.”

Running into Saab, however, has as little to do with me making sense more often than not, as it has to do with me discovering that playing football with a semi-inflated basketball in the vicinity of pointed metallic objects can result in a Harry Potterish mark on one’s skull. One is given to wishful thinking, and one could not help but wonder if the parallels between the boy wizard’s mark and the one acquired by yours truly would transcend the merely visual. One is a fool. One must understand that pointed metallic objects are not Lord Voldermot’s wands, and hence getting such a mark does not make one a prospective boy wizard – especially since one went past the boyhood age over a decade ago.

The great thing about discoveries is that someone must make them. The irony is that being discovered does not render a discovery fit for greatness. Saab says, “This has to be the lamest thing I heard, said or read today”, which is saying a lot since Saab has been with me for almost half the day, and he has heard me speak for all of that time, as he sat there reading his own diary. Saab is sitting with me here reading this post as it is being typed out (and offering his unwelcome critique – he says, “It is rude to read between brackets”, and hence refrains from reading anything that I enclose in brackets, or at least pretends to – which is why I am calling his critique unwelcome in brackets). I have explained to Saab that I was merely trying to act intelligent by pointing out an irony, and he has nodded his understanding, approval or both. He is a man of few words, and of fewer nods. Have you ever wondered upon the irony of us humans’ pre-occupation with ironies? I have not either. I am intrigued though everytime someone highlights an irony. Saab says, “Being able to discern irony is a hallmark of the intelligent”, and I can hardly be faulted in my quest to acquire all these hallmarks.

I am after all a disciple of the exalted Jalali Baba, even if he has publically ostracised me from his circle of disciples. If there is one thing that Jalali Baba teaches by personal example, it is looking all intellectual and intelligent and smart and all things one is not and doing all it takes to look all those things. Jalali Baba’s sense of irony is exceeded alone by what he thinks is his sense of humor, which has little of sense about it and which is replete with his sarcasm, and his sarcasm is second only to his disdain for the logically impaired – an allusion to yours truly and the like. Jalali Baba reads Stephen Hawking for example, and he reads him with a vangeance. You can tell when Jalali Baba has been reading Stephen Hawking lately, because he goes all teary eyed everytime he looks at the skies in those days; because he seems to be hanging on to every word you say in those days, until you utter a word that sounds remotely like any of the following ‘Steep, Fun, Hawk, King, Brief, History, Time, Big, Bang, theory’. These words, uttered singularly or in an ill-fated (read ill-fitted) combination, are his cue to start looking intelligent. It is painful, but all things spiritual are. Nirvana is achieved through pain.

Jalali Baba has never promised nirvana. He promises nothing, and delivers on this promise. Jalali Baba is only one of the many mentors who have impressed upon me the need to deliver on my promises. There is that smart way of saying it, which stresses the importance of under-committing and over-delivering, and highlights the perils of over-committing and under-delivering – but it sounds too management-guruish, and it seems criminal to put it up on my blog without charging exorbitant sums of money to people who know it already, and will benefit little from being told again; and if there is one thing I am not, its a criminal.

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