Tuesday, 29 December 2015

" Tell Me Honestly, Does It Operate In Your Life?" - UG

Once a famous Bollywood actress walked into UG's portal along with her friend. 

UG was 'sinking' (cycles of moon affected him terribly) and he remained unusually quiet that whole afternoon. People around him just sat about lazily and listlessly. There was no talk going on, the din and roar of traffic from the busy street below was the only sound in the room.

UG’s silence seemed a little harsh for the celeb’s comfort. At some point someone in the room broke the ice by asking her something. She immediately seized the opportunity and animatedly began talking.  For some strange reason, she started waxing eloquent on love and relationship. She began singing the glories of marriage, parenthood, the joy of bringing up children.

Strangely, she had recently gone through a divorce from her not so famous husband and had walked out of her wedlock that had lasted only for a few years, leaving behind two little darlings! The glossies were ripe with the spat between the couple and the court case. But here she was, with a straight face, glorifying the institution of marriage! There was something seriously amiss!

Someone in the audience couldn't stand it anymore and burst out saying 'Madame, please do not waste time talking of love! After all, as UG puts it, it is just a four letter word! The talk of love, relationship is nothing but nonsense!"

Being a famous celebrity, she couldn't suffer this affront from an unknown entity! She was visibly upset.  She turned furious, raising her voice to a pitch, she hysterically shrieked out arguing and defending her position on marriage and love! 

This was turning into a showdown! 

UG suddenly came out of his hibernation, ' Hey! Why are you getting so upset? What are you talking?  What he is saying is right! You talk of love and all that crap, tell me honestly, does it operate in your life?

This sudden outburst from UG silenced her completely! UG didn’t stop there, " Look here! Don't try to be clever, you will be clobbered!'

The room fell silent!

After sometime, the man, her ‘offender’ took leave of UG and left the room. The lady quietly followed him to the door. Seems the person was shocked to see her trailing him. He apparently stopped to confront her. Still feeling smarted and seething with anger, she stood glowering at him! He stood rooted silently staring back at her! There was a pause and the lady abruptly turned around and vanished into the house.

On learning of her rage, UG remarked, “These people have no chance at all with me… I can silence them in a minute, no, not even a minute, in a second!”

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

“Come on sir! It's nothing! Don’t even bother" - UG

UG enjoying a moment with feline beauties.

During one of his many visits to Bombay, our pilot friend, Kamal invited UG for breakfast to his flat. In those days, Kamal’s bachelor pad was in a thickly wooded area near Andheri. 

Early morning that day, UG and Mahesh Bhatt set out to reach Kamal's place. I was to join them with breakfast preparation from home. My wife Prasuna offered to prepare ‘idlis’ for us all. UG used to like her preparation, “When it comes to idlis, I can’t decide who makes it better –Suguna (Mrs. Chandrasekhar Babu) or your wife, both make it so well, it is difficult for me to choose between the two!”

That day, everything seemed to go awry. There was a delay in the preparation of food so I started late, the traffic snarls further delayed my arrival and it was well past breakfast time when I finally reached Kamal’s place.

After profusely apologising for the inordinate delay, I and Kamal rushed to serve food to UG. Mahesh said he had already finished his breakfast at home and come.

UG promptly went about his business and started attacking the idlis, I stood around waiting to serve ‘chutney’, a spicy serving to go with the bland idlis! All of a sudden, a frantic-looking Kamal darted across the room to my side and literally pulled me into the kitchen. He clearly looked a worried man! Obviously something had gone wrong! He wanted to know whether I had tasted the idlis myself, I said, 'No'!

Kamal gave me a shocker, “Suresh, looks like the batter for making idlis contained grains of sand"! And handed me a piece to taste! Ouch! I couldn't hold the grainy morsel on my tongue for even a second! 

For a moment, I stood there paralysed, feeling guilty of a capital crime!

Recovering from my shock & disbelief, I rushed out into the living room to see if I could salvage the situation. But it was too late! I caught a glimpse of UG as he lapped up the last piece of the sandy idli from his plate and got up to wash his hands!

He looked absolutely normal, calm and composed! There was no change in his facial expression, there was absolutely no sign to give away that he had just consumed a sandy meal!

I felt terrible and offered my unconditional apologies for the gross negligence! It was really unforgivable! It was unbecoming of me & wife to have served him such food! UG brushed aside the whole thing! With aplomb befitting a sage, he pacified me, “Come on sir! It's nothing! Don’t even bother".

I was dumbstruck! First ever time, I had witnessed what is hailed as the sagely equanimity!


Fast forward to 2009 !

Kamal had flown back from Dubai that morning!
We were supposed to meet Mahesh Bhatt at his office. Kamal suggested we carry along a pack of fine dates he had brought from the desert. 

After the pleasantries got over, Kamal offered the pack of dates to Mahesh who promptly ordered for a plate and poured all the dates into the plate and passed it around for everyone in the office. Meanwhile, his lady writer, Shagufta Rafeeq joined us at the table. 

For some reason, she peeled open one of the dates before popping it in! She let off a huge scream, "Ooh! There are worms inside these dates"! And showed us a crawler! Already Mahesh, I and Kamal had generously helped ourselves and munched some delicious dates, blissfully unaware of what went alongside the dates into our tummies!

It was Kamal's turn to be dumbstruck!

Mahesh, cool and unruffled, called for the boys to remove the plate and dismissed the whole episode saying, "Ok! That's alright!" And hurried on to resume his favourite topic, UG, even as Kamal and I made brave efforts to gather our wits.  Shagufta, sitting next to us, unable to get over, looked completely dazed!

An aside:

On this particular day of sandy idlis, I had travelled to Kamal’s place in an auto rickshaw. As soon as I walked in, UG greeted me asking, “Sir! Did you come in your car driving all the way?” gesturing with both hands to indicate steering. I said, “No sir! I came by rickshaw.”

After some more time, he repeated the same question all over again using the same gesture, again I answered him in the negative.

A third time this question was repeated, all within a span of one hour! I patiently repeated that I did not own a car and that I used the public transport for my commute.

But UG’s remark had hit its mark!

I mulled over UG’s words that evening. There was something there for me to think and consider! Why would he go on asking that question?

Strangely, in those days, I used to spend a fortune on renting cars for a saffron-clad guru who used to be my guest. And UG’s refrain pushed me to weigh the option of going for my own car. This made sense as it would result in a lot of savings rather than blowing up money on prohibitive car rentals.

When UG arrived on his next visit, I had already bought a new car, a Fiat Palio and UG appeared delighted and showed it to one and all. He suddenly decided to make a trip to our home in the new car!


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

“A busy man has time for everything - UG.”

UG and Mahesh Bhatt

UG rarely quoted other sources to convey nuggets of wisdom. The famous adage about time, “A busy man has time for everything.” was his constant refrain!

In the 90s, Mahesh Bhatt, the film director would shoot late into the wee hours of the morning, pack up his gear, head straight to Parekhji’s home in Santacruz, UG’s abode in Bombay. UG rightly described Mahesh as a workaholic. Even after his night long shoots, Mahesh would carry awesome energy over to his morning encounters with UG.

On one such occasion, UG pointing to Mahesh, who had hardly slept the night before, said, “Sir, he is Gudakesa”.  By the way, Arjuna, the famed warrior of Mahabharata is referred to as Gudakesa, which means the ‘sleepless one’!

I recently asked Mahesh what he had to say about UG’s oft repeated quote, “A busy man has time for everything” given his tight schedule befitting that of a celebrity. Mahesh, as is his wont, responded, “Don’t you see I am a standing example of what UG said!” There is no exaggeration there! He remains a busy bee and at the same time never misses anything! His friends would vouch for that!

Regardless of his numerous engagements, Mahesh manages to find time for every small thing! He would respond to calls, mails and messages from friends in the thick of his hundred odd tasks that demand his time!

When I probed him further about how he managed to get time for everything, specially calling his attention to UG’s famous maxim, Mahesh simply replied, “I work!”

His mantra seems to be ‘Don’t Try, Don’t Talk, Just Work!’

UG kept hammering away, “What do you want? Do you really know what you want? If you really know what you want, there is no way you can’t get it!” 

Chasing after a myriad dreams soaks up all our energy and time. Once we know what we want, there seems to be no dearth of time and energy.

Once we are clear about what we want, our clarity then decides our priority, and we will not be caught up in the maze of choices. With no more choosing or thinking, one is left with only doing! Time and energy suddenly seem to abound for such a person and open up in a big way!

Apparently, Mahesh knew what he really wanted from the very beginning!

I once parroted UG’s words to Mahesh, I said, “UG told me, ‘Don’t do a thing! Do Nothing!’ At this Mahesh turned into a live wire, “Noooo! UG never said that to me! He asked me to chase my dream! He said, Mahesh I want you to achieve name and fame, make money! He said he will not forgive me if I made failure into a virtue!

UG made it clear that there is nothing wrong with desire! Desire is life itself, if there is no desire, you will drop dead the next moment!”  

The small exchange took the wind off my sails and I just stopped short in my tracks!

For a moment, unwittingly I had transgressed the sacred territory of another individual! It hit me that UG’s guidance had always been personal, it was laser-focused on the individual! It varied from individual to individual. Like a good physician, UG administered the right medicine in right dosage to the right individual. I zipped my lip! Nothing could be more preposterous than generalising UG and his words!

Mahesh had a special equation with UG that defied description.

Once a close friend called on Mahesh to seek advice on how to stay around the fiery, raging UG, Mahesh explained, “It is actually very simple! When I am with UG, I never think! I ‘just do’ what he says! If he says sit, I sit, if he says get up, I get up, if he says get out, I just go, that’s all! I know he knows what is best for me!”  

This rare clarity makes Mahesh simply declare “I work!” unencumbered by frivolous choices , focused completely on the task at hand!

This simple, amazing ‘just do’ formula holds the key to efficiency, productivity and performance, buzz words in today’s business parlours! ‘Just do’ presupposes three things – tremendous clarity, sticking to essentials and single-minded commitment.

Getting to this point is not easy, it is sheer hard work and intelligence!

 ‘Just do’ demands that we re-look at our very fundamentals, our very way of life!

When it came to his own dictum of the busy man making time for everything, UG walked the talk!

Time, it appeared, was never in short supply for UG’s innumerable commitments - he found time for every little thing despite his constant travels, meetings and exchanges with scores of people across the globe! He made sure every one of his friends enjoyed a unique, personal equation with him!

For a sage there is no choice, no thinking, only doing what has to be done!

UG received every visitor who turned up at his door, spent tons of hours with all sorts of discussions and inquiries, at the same time kept all his appointments, never missing a single engagement, visit or shopping!

UG never wore or carried a watch on his person but functioned precisely like a clock! When any visit was on the anvil, his eyes would dart back and forth to the clock on the wall, “We still have five minutes!” he would announce and continue to take more questions! At the appointed time, he would simply get up, declare the ‘shop’ closed, dismiss the crowd and slip into the waiting car!

UG would often repeat:

Don’t think, just do!”

“Stop thinking and start living”


“ I am a White Brahmin, of purest ray serene! ” - UG

I just recall this one-off anecdote. UG and Mahesh Bhatt had just returned to Parekhji’s place after their lunch at the Oberoi...