"Pinch Yourself and Touch Someone was initially written as a few thoughts for my son Dipak, who was leaving after a stay at our home in Indiana, to restart his life in Florida. At 50 years of age, he had been in and out of numerous businesses, in and out of a marriage, and seemed to be, from a father’s perspective, still unsure of his direction. Sad at his departure, and unsure of what to say, rather than sit by his side and give him fatherly advice, I jotted down some aphorisms on a piece of paper, enclosed it in an envelope and asked him to read it on reaching his destination. A couple of months passed and I became eager to know his reaction. He said he kept it on his desk and had read it several times, each time getting more meaning out of it. The book contains gleanings from observations, learnings from experience, meditations and inspirational exhortations. The central theme is unearthing the potencies within us and their delivery in service of self and society. 'Words of wisdom,' so to speak." [You can get a free copy of the e-book here, and also purchase the printed edition from his son Dipak. - Sunthar]
Yuvā-Mangal, literally, means a carnival of youth. Its referent is BurhwaMangal, a carnival of the old rejoicing their youth at the closing of the year. It is celebrated in Banaras for three successive nights in the dark side of the moon in Chaitra (approximately April). At midnight about fifty 'bajra' (barges) anchor on various ghats from Ramnagar to Lalghat in the gorgeous bend of the Ganges. This is the most temple-dominated section of the Holy City. The barges are specially decorated with colorful lights, flowers, and festoons and their decks serve as stages on which the dancing girls and singers from Dalmandi, the red-light district of Banaras, entertain soirees of the elite. People swarm on the gallery-like ghats and enjoy the rich variety of music and dance styles. After two or three hours of dance and song-fest the barges drift in the midstream for the rest of the night. It is not known who originated the carnival and when; but the former Prince of Banaras used to subsidize the expenses. He had a special bajra named ‘Saraswati’ Goddess of Learning, and shaped like a dancing peacock, her symbolic transport. The poet found it grounded in the silt near the Ramnagar Fort. But, as it often happens, the tradition in the promotion of fine arts degenerated over time into sex, sensationalism, and violence, which led to a reformist outcry resulting in its discontinuance. After a quarter of a century, it was revived in 1949 when the poet witnessed it while studying philosophy at Banaras Hindu University.
[Narsi had described the festival with much nostalgia and passion during our first visit to his home in December 1985, and had given us a typewritten copy of his poem. It was only after renewing our acquaintance, after a long break, in October 2010 that I was able dig up the faded sheets in my file cabinet. I'm currently retyping the obscured portions by hand before (re-) converting to PDF. - Sunthar]
After having announced to our Abhinavagupta forum Narsi's profile and the writings posted here, Sunthar began to cite from Narsi's poems to illustrate and lend emotional coloring to various ongoing themes that he was blogging on at the time. Despite the disparate themes, these postings have been compiled here in chronological order as a tribute to the Gujarati poet.