That is not to say I’m an atheist. I like to believe there is someone, I’m not sure who, listening when I’m grateful or confused or just want something real bad. Perhaps the Mustang prayer hasn’t materialised because that someone also heard Rolling Stones saying ”You can’t always get what you want”.
My conversations with God happen to be in English, unless I’m chanting out of a scripture. I assume that the listener is multi-lingual and my prayers are not lost in translation.
The concept of one God makes sense to me. I have bowed my head and knelt before Christ in many a church. I have visited a Dargah or Masjid and felt one with the Almighty. I have been to certain Hindu temples and felt nothing.
The one thing I’m always thankful for is that I was never told what to do when it came to my relationship with God. I was free to find my way there. Or not.
And I found my way there. I don’t fast and don’t always know which dates the significant religious festivals fall on. But sometimes I’ve stood in front of a deity in a crowded hall and felt more at peace than if I were sitting under a tree up in the Himalayas.
Once (only once till date) I shut my eyes and closed off the noise around me, (I am absolutely certain it wasn’t a nap) while sitting straight and crossed legged on my bed. I think I was supposed to be studying, but may have been praying for a bomb-scare-at-school sort of miracle. It was a strange feeling to come back from wherever I had travelled in my head and have the noise slowly creep in again. A few minutes later my father came into the room and said my grandfather had passed away. No relation to anything really, but that was my only tryst with meditation, albeit unwittingly.
I find yagyas very peaceful. I don’t know if it’s the chanting or the smoke or the act of doing swaha. When we were kids, birthdays always started with a yagya in the morning. It laid the foundation for the excitement that was difficult to contain. One always felt good and righteous starting out this way. Now there are no yagyas but a visit to the temple is often on the cards.
Then there was the time I visited the ISKCON temple in Brooklyn, New York, what with it being Janmashtmi and all. Actually it was a friend’s idea (she is very religious). So we chanted Hare Rama Hare Krishna (lead by a man in accented Hindi). While I was trying to connect with the deity, my view was blocked by numerous phone cameras. It felt like intrusion. I could understand wanting to capture the Lord in all his glory, but at the same time it felt like saving an image in your mind should have been enough. Sure its not a jpeg but oh my god how on earth will you put it on Facebook?
I have also clicked away in places of worship, but I can only do that if I’m not there to pray. I can’t manage praying and clicking at the same place. “Thankyou god for all that you have done for me, keep my loved one’s safe and healthy oh and yeah, can you strike your best pose please. Its important”.
I wasn’t playing photographer but I couldn’t help doing other things after my share of the conversation was over. Like wondering about the percentage of people drawn to Krishna thanks to the Beatles. Or passing a smirk or two at the recreation of Mathura, with Barbie in a saree representing Radha. And looking at others and asking no one in particular whether these people led their lives with as much sincerity as they seemed to be praying with.
I wasn’t up in arms when Shahrukh Khan suggested he took a leak in a church in the film from so long ago. Or when a certain actress walked into a Gurdwara in a skirt. And I didn’t say Hawwww in my head while watching David Duchovny dream up a blowjob sequence with a nun in a church. (I can’t think of any possible temple desecration examples.)
But I do feel like someone’s watching me make mistakes, do a good deed or do laundry (and it’s not just the Government).
I have a feeling the special person up above takes a bathroom or snack break during the laundry parts.