Day 2 (6 March 2010)
Sunrise Tai Chi
Mornings and at 4 AM. 4 AM? You ask what on Earth was I doing at 4 in the morning with S and S deep in their slumbers. I brought my @$%^& !& work to the retreat. In 2 hours the sunrise TaiChi was to commence. And I was in the balcony facing the pool I was looking at the ripples on the water which I think was the state of my mind right at that time. How reflecting!!
At 5:30 I am out on a waking spree, waking S and S, DS, S, G.
DS: “Why? Why? Why Mr Guha? Why? Why do you persist?
KG: “Because I choose to” …<with Matrix soundtrack in the background>…
DS: Shut Up…I dreamt electrons last night because of you.
I had done my damage the next mission-finding the lawn on the beach.
It was just past the Sunrise TaiChi, I see this small group looking at me and N practicing sword and the saber, more at N than me. Oh I had to make an impression right so there was quite a load to keep up with the forms. Well the group was impressed (they are only too kind) and thus began some interesting exchange of stories. The group had SFDN, SK, and others.
-Story 1: What is Zen?
Once upon a time, there had been a Zen practitioner though he had a business of his own and quite successful at that Zen for him was really a fad. But the more he got into it more bewildered he became. Then one day he could take it no more. He approached his master and harassed him “For Heaven’s sake what is Zen?” No matter what the master said couldn’t pacify the student. Finally the master said “If you want to know Zen then meet my master. He would be walking by the road on the mountain reaching the shrine. Meet him and he will tell you what Zen is. The student reached the appointed place and waited for the master’s arrival. Nobody arrived except a laborer with a heavy sack on his back. He waited for many days and he enquired people passing by, except the laborer, but everybody was negative to his query. Finally one day he asked the laborer whether he knew his master and he nodded yes. Then finally the student asked the master “It is bothering me for quite some time but what is Zen?” To this the laborer dropped his sack and was all relaxed with a serene face. The student was bewildered he asked him “What does it mean?” to which the laborer immediately picked up the sack and placed it on his back and walked away…
Some in the crowd got it and went Ahhhhh…and some went “What does it mean?” still carrying the burden
-Story 2: The Beggar
SK is a Rotary Club member and was distributing food and met a beggar once in his social missions. He gave him some sambar rice and other accompaniments to which the Beggar replied with a smile “What is this lunch?” and SK acknowledged him in the positive. The beggar had small morsel and gave it back to SK and said keep this in your pooja room. SK was moved, this is very odd, and nonetheless he took it his home and kept in the pooja room. A day passed the food was not spoiled and still the same, 2 days and 3 days passed and it was still the same it just wouldn’t go bad. Finally SK himself had a morsel and left the mystery alone.
-Story 3: The Wretched Lady from Assam
There was once a man quite accomplished in his life but as is life goes he had cancer. The doctor did not give him much hope and obviously of no help. His spiritual guru asked him to go to Kanyakumari and meet this tobacco chewing Assamese lady. She was with the dogs and living the very basic life. He religiously meets her and before he could introduce himself properly she asked how his guru was doing. After the small talk she gave her spit to him and asked to chew it and have dip in the sea and go home- “All problems will go away”. He does precisely that and he is fully recovered.
With that very warm exchange of stories we left to our rooms feeling something quite different.
With a quick bath we hit the breakfast halls and feasting on the sumptuous.
-Story 4: The Beautiful Sword
The most beautiful of sword is always sheathed.
28 forms and the pressure points and push hands with the GrandMaster
The description of the pressure points at either ends of the wrist is what we dealt in the 28 forms corrections. This aspect of pressure points was very illuminating at least for the seniors. I hope everybody is seriously incorporating the conscious awareness of the pressure points in their practice. And next was the Tin-Jin and my partner for the day SS. The Tin-Jin in Day-2 was a lot clearer than the usual single hand push hands and the sticky hands. I will admit I wanted bask in the masters presence and I was looking for every opportunity to interact though not risking being a pest. I pressed SS to practice as GrandMaster was just around making his rounds and then the moment I was waiting. Push hands with the GrandMaster, WOW it was surreal at his age to have the sensitivity shamed mine. That was a high point. I am not going to wash my hands that were privileged to be corrected by the Master himself. DS and I and I hope we are not alone we wondered why there should be any break. We just couldn’t have enough of it.
The QA started with my query on single whip and Master James at his elements. He explained about the tail bone tucking in during the turning on the heel for single whip and his antics in explaining was hilarious- “You need to come to the bathroom to understand”. The high point of the QA was NL’s question on step up parry and punch. NL a big burly guy is stopped in his tracks by solid stance of Master James, Oh awesome stuff. NL was made to understand the meaning of his own name- stillness. The significance of why 85 forms is right side dominant (because liver being on the right side) and the other questions were placeholders compared to what was to follow- the history behind simplified Yang being the stuff of chicken fight rather than any real martial art. Oh this is serious Tai Chi at its very best.
Camaraderie of Bangalore
This was a great opportunity of serious bonding of the Bangalore contingent. Bangaloreans are a busy lot and the 3-4 hr of Tai Chi leaves very little time of any meaningful socializing. I discovered a lot of interesting things to learn about each of them. Ladies and Gentleman presenting to you the Bangalore contingent
Ramesh: I love to get on his nerves he is one serious Tai Chi and Buddhism freak. Imagine to check out the lawn of the Sunrise Tai Chi one must actually check it out by practicing 85 forms at 7 PM after the day’s toll on the body. Imagine that he is the person. Imagine, wouldn’t you love to get on his nerves. Every word or gesture of the GrandMaster Fu’s or Master James is as if the Buddha’s sermon at Bodh-Gaya. Mind you tread with caution with this guy, as far as internal martial art is concerned he is an expert of Xingyi and Bagua and always getting in contests with Harold is a testimony enough.
Krishna Kumar: KK, we call him. This guy has a hearty laugh and this makes pulling Ramesh’s leg even more enjoyable when you have a discerning audience such as KK. A Taekwondo expert you have one serious martial arts practitioner in him. He loves pulling Ramesh’s leg and you would understand when I say – “Jab mil baithe Teen Yaar, KK, main aur Ramesh Sir”.
Anand: I discovered a great friendship in him only at the Retreat. I had a brief and forgettable introduction at Bangalore. This man is an ace Tennis player and an ex-Karateka and has a big zest for life. You sit with him and if your wavelength matches the resonance is going to shatter any ear drum.
Devraj Sanyal- He is my philosophical adversary as is apparent, quintessential Agent Smith to this Neo, Tai Chi researcher who is not going to stop at nothing. He is going to go beyond the 4 quadrants of Tai Chi. A hearty Bengali whose is a vegetarian by choice?!!??!!!!! He hails from a family of freedom fighters who are accomplished in traditional stick fighting. Software engineer and loves his work. A astute student of Ramesh needless to say where the antagonism for me comes from.
Sirish- He is an introspective, much wiser for his age, sensitive, philosopher, jazz, blues, rock keyboardist and guess what 19 years of age. He is silent but listens and actually can stand me as a person. I can’t pull this fellow’s leg at all. I can’t believe it. He is one grand old man in a late teen’s body that is as far as I can get to pulling his leg.
Meera- A contemporary dancer, yoga enthusiast and in the hunt for spiritual bliss are all Meeras in the world like the Original or rather Authentic Meera Bai. Needless to say her Tai Chi is in her list of spiritual exploration. Exudes youthful exuberance and would you believe, she is a Mother of an 8 eight year old.
Venky – He is into Tai Chi for spirituality and philosophy. A person who is very clear about life in general. He picked up his 85 in a jiffy. If he hangs around there is lot in Tai Chi for him.
Murali- A top exec in a top company. He got 11 adverts for the retreat. A down to earth person, Tai Chi, Yoga enthusiast and has a zest for life.
Neelima- A very warm, kind and a mother-figure of our Bangalore contingent. Konkani studied in Shantiniketan has chaste Bengali tongue and a great baker. A perfectionist in 85 and her favorite the weapons. So choose you weapons carefully.
Priya and Rohit- They celebrated there anniversary in the Retreat Rohit is a hardcore Yoga and a Tai Chi enthusiast. Fearless and is sensitive about many issues that are plaguing our lifestyle – GM foods, stress in work and many others. As I am writing this please welcome Priya into our Tai Chi family no doubt the Retreat played a major part in convincing Priya to take up Tai Chi.
Shreeguru- One of the very senior students of our academy. Into lot of Yoga and as Neelima and I discovered into cooking with practically no oil and no salt???!!!!???
No oil and no salt??!!??
SaravanaKumar – S for short. Ex-Karateka and was pretty much busy with the sessions and his family, father of a cute girl with Happy Feet. Despite all that a serious Tai Chi practitioner and my push hands partner.
No oil and no salt??!!??
Santosh- Not much about him a silent and up to himself was a Chennai student and a Harold Rose protégé.
Sifu and Simu- They belong to Bangalore. Not much to say you all know them. The first couple of the academy and the reason why we are together.
No oil and no salt??!!??
Wanna Wanna Wanna WANNA
The dinner had a rock band singing my favorites “Cocaine”, “Smoke on water” and “We don’t need no education” and were murdering them, but somehow their innocence, youth and exuberance made it sound NICE. But they were good in their originals and a particular crowd favorite “Wanna” the Bangalore crowd obviously the most discerning rock audience enjoyed and even shook to some atrocious, pathetic leg, hand and hip movements, I wouldn’t call it dancing, I would call it… never mind that wouldn’t sound politically correct. But it was fun, really fun, really really fun stuff. Mind you the Chennai lot was equally culpable of dancers and was party to the crime.
Tai chi Retreat 2010 Diary Part 1 of 3