FRIENDS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME
This book is dedicated to all, who respect and enjoy all simple things those the Creation has provided us on our earth.
Friday, April 1
Lasergear Electronics Corporation was a Public Company, founded by Aswini Sharma and Jatin Arora. Frazier Russet was the biggest client of Lasergear. Russet Rolf and his daughter arrived in India, he just arrived in India, with his daughter Cynthia, two days ago, on a visit to Lasergear facilities in India. Russet Rolf had booked a twin room suite in the most expansive hotel of Bangalore. He was only interested in business but Cynthia was interested in meditations, yoga and nirvana concepts.
In their hotel restaurant with her father, Arvind, Jatin, she vaguely mentioned about her plans to travel in India to find some guru. Arvind jokingly said that they know a person whom some people consider an enlightened.
She was instantly excited, she asked Arvind, “Do you consider him enlightened?”
Arvind only smiled with a slight nod. Her father brushed off Arvind’s claim saying that this all is bogus. After dinner they went to their suite in Hotel but her mind was not in rest. She was constantly thinking about what Arvind said: “They know a person…..”
Who are they, and who is that person. She visited several Indian homes and almost each household has a guru, was Arvind saying about some such person, too many in India.
Next morning she called Arvind, asked him that she wants to meet him. He was confused at her odd request, but he gladly invited her at his home in the evening and asked her to bring her father alone; but she wanted to visit him without her father and told him so. Her father, a ruthless corporate raider, always wanted to have his mind free from social interactions which may hinder his long term goals to raid the companies he is dealing with. He had no habit to socialize with his clients or business acquaintances.
During the day her father was to visit another Lasergear installation, fifty kilometers away from Bangalore. Arvind and Jatin received him from the hotel and accompanied him to their state of the art factory, manufacturing electronics controlled servo-motors and gears. Russet was the sole client for the parts manufactured by Lasergear. His orders were so large and unique that factory had no time or resources available to accommodate other clients. She did not accompany his father but wondered around in the book stores at MG Road.
In the evening she arrived at Arvind’s home, his whole family welcomed her in their large home in the suburbs of Bangalore, facing a natural lake and three low rocky hills. After the tea, she straight came to the point.
She asked Arvind, “Last night you said you know a person whom some people consider an enlightened.”
He again only smiled with a slight nod, that exact same gesture.
She was looking at his face. “Oh come on Arvind, I want to know more about this enlightened person.”
“Is that brought you to us here?” His wife Asha asked her with a grin.
“The answer is yes.”
“We have a friend, he works with us. His name is Rishi; people who are close to him consider he is an enlightened.”
“Huh, very interesting,” she said, “an enlightened person working with you?”
“Well he is a free spirited young man, he is not our employee but rather a consultant and he is free to quit as he wishes. This suits us too. Anyway we don’t want to lose him. Professionally as well as a friend he is very valuable.”
“Please tell me about him?”
“Not much can be told about him, he is a very ordinary person.”
“He must have some magic or qualities about him; some aura, penetrating eyes or gestures or deeds.”
Arvind laughed. “It all depends how you define ‘enlightened’”.
“About enlightened, I read some books like Herman Hesse’s ‘Siddhartha’ and about Buddha etc. That’s all I know about enlightened.”
Arvind too read the book ‘Siddhartha’ he asked, “You feel there was some sort of magic about Siddhartha.”
She was a bit shocked, she thought for a while and replied, “I don’t think so, he attained total peace. His came to know all that was to be known. He arrived.”
“Doctor Cynthia, I personally think Rishi is ‘the enlightened’.”
Asha was nodding in agreement.
“Please don’t call me doctor.”
Room went silence except for the sound of air from the windows.
She broke the silence, “Huh! But still my mind says there should be something extraordinary about enlightened.”
“Doctor Cynthia, you can meet Rishi if you wish. He is here in Bangalore.”
She smiled with joy. “Oh really, I will love to meet him.”
Dinner was being served, it was all vegetarian. She was also practicing vegetarianism for some time. After dinner they tried to serve ice-cream but she refused.
She asked for tea, while sipping from her cup she asked, “So how and when I am going to see this Rishi.”
He replied, “We can ask him to come here tomorrow.”
“That would be super.”
Asha said, “I was thinking about this Cynthia. Since your sole motive to meet Rishi is to see a free or enlightened person. This may put him in some awkward position. You know what I mean.”
Cynthia said, “Yes of-course. People do change if they feel we are just observing them. It is like a person singing in the bathroom and suddenly becomes aware that someone is hearing him.”
They all laughed.
Rendezvous was set for next day evening and luckily that was Friday. It was only possible if Rishi had no other plan. He had too many friends. Arvind and Jatin too were his friends although he was at least 15 years younger.
Arvind dropped her in the hotel at 10pm.. She found her father was waiting for her with a drink of scotch in his hand. She saw no sense in not telling him truth and as she anticipated he did not like her visiting and socializing his clients. She had learned not argue with him when he was drinking, she kissed him goodbye and went to her room in the same suite.
Arvind knew Rishi for many years, he was their family friend. His wife Asha and their twin daughters equally liked his company. Time to time he invited Rishi for beer sessions although he was getting busier by each days and those days were becoming rare. He called Rishi and invited him home for the next evening and he gladly agreed.
Arvind’s house was two storied, living area in at the ground floor and bedrooms at the first floor and above that floor they had a large terrace and a small studio unit for guest. House offered two contrasting view, in the south was the sprawling town of Bangalore, patches of coconuts groves here and there. In the north were farmlands and isolated rocky hills, as someone has places rocks above the rocks to make hills. It was apparent that sooner city will engulf the peace and wilderness touch of the place. In the northeast the terrace offered panoramic views of Nandi Hill and its six sister mountains.
At 5pm Cynthia arrived at Arvind’s home, half hour earlier. Rishi was asked to come at 6pm. She was so obsessed with the concept of Nirvana and Buddha that she was dying to see him. She wanted to see him about how he walks, how he talks, how he breathes and what not. Still she had reservations in her mind that most probably he was only putting up the show to patronize himself.
This time Arvind and Usha’s twin daughters were at home. They were not identical twin, a great contrast in their looks and behaviors, one was studying medicine and other was doing Electronics Engineering. Cynthia was aware that they were asked to spend weekend in their home instead of the hostel.
Their parents wanted them to get acquainting and befriend with the daughter of their very rich and biggest client, and also to give the company to their richest client’s daughter. Cynthia was also happy to see two young girls, this time she felt that she was with friends. It was ten minutes to 6 and Cynthia was looking at her watch. Asha was aware of her desperation to watch Rishi she took her to the terrace where the road to their home from the main avenue was all visible. Asha left but her daughters joined them. They all sat on the plastic patio furniture.
Rishi took the bus it was still one hour to 6pm. He had an odd feeling because this kind of invitation was out of Arvind’s character. Anyway he was happy to have the opportunity to spend some time away from the crowd of the town. Although he could have taken the same bus to even further to the nearest stop but he could not resist walking in the open green swath of cultivated farm lands. He knew a side rural road that made short cut, road was deserted. It passed through an ancient ruin of a temple under a huge banyan tree by a crystal clear water pond. He sat on a rock and looked at the chirping and bathing birds. A lone kingfisher landed on a bush near him and started inspecting him from the head to toe. A little away, a young farmer was tilling the land with a pair of bullocks; he was loudly singing a Tamil song and walking in its rhythm behind the bullocks.
Sun in the west was crimson and descending, gradually everything was washed with crimson hue. Farmer stopped singing and brought his thirsty bullocks to the pond. They instantly started drinking water and at the end of long hard day they were expressing their joy with wagging tails. Farmer started washing himself.
Farmer looked at Rishi with curiosity and started the conversation.
“What brings you here?”
“Peace of this place.”
Farmer nodded in approval. He started gathering an herb that was growing around the pond..
Rishi asked, “What is this?”
“This is punarva, the liver and kidney medicine.” -- He pointed to the one ox that was not so healthy – “I will feed it to him.”
“Won’t he graze it himself?”
“No. Animals do not like its taste; we will chop it and mix in their hay etc.”
Farmer washed a bunch of leaves, put some leaves in his own mouth and gave some to Rishi, he chewed the leaves, and he felt a bit stingy taste and swallowed.
He was enjoying every moment but he rose to make it to Arvind’s home at 6pm.
“Come with me to my home for a cup of tea?”
“I would love to but I have to visit to the folks in that big red house, at the end of the road.”
They shook hands and exchanged the names, his name was Rajugopal.
He walked fast. Near Arvind’s home, by the road he identified the same herb punarva. Just to make sure he plucked a leaf and cleaned it with his hands and chewed, it was the same stingy taste.
Nita who was doing medicine saw Rishi first from the terrace. He was not coming from the main avenue but from the back road that passed through farms. She knew that Cynthia wanted to see Rishi, she pointed to the distant figure of a walking man. They saw, he was walking at a leisure pace, in no particular rush. Then he saw something in the grass, stepped off the road, leaned and picked something from the grass, cleaned it with his fist and ate it. Both sisters laughed.
“Uncle Rishi is always strange.”
Both sisters left here alone on the terrace and went down as their mother instructed them. Now Rishi was near the home, instead of stepping inside he went to the lake and gazed at it water and at the panorama around it for some minutes. He was not aware that someone was watching him from the terrace.
Rishi looked at his watch and walked to the gate and entered in the compound. House had a wall around it; driveway crossed a neatly groomed lawn and then ended into a porch. Rishi was now looking at a exceptionally large dahlia flower. He brought the flower to his nose and creased it with his cheeks and felt it softness and smell. A cat was watching him, he stood still, and cat came to his feet and bent up and rubbed its back with Rishi’s legs. He patted her and then it walked away in appreciation. Rishi entered in the porch, he disappeared away from the sight of Cynthia. She liked his face.
Rishi was not comfortable in the company of three women mother and daughters altogether, and here comes another. Cynthia arrived in the living room, she was stood at the entrance, Revathi twin sister of Nita took her hand and brought her to sofa.
“Hey Rishi, meet our new friend Cynthia.”
Rishi took Christians hand in his both hands and started shaking it. They all laughed. He was still shaking her hands and Nita interrupted.
“You can leave her hand now and let her sit Rishi.”
“Leave her hand! I thought this is the rendezvous your Cynthia was waiting to happen.”
All four ladies were now gaping at Rishi in bewilder-ness.
That was not supposed to happen this way.
Thoughtless mind of Rishi quickly anticipated the situation and now it was his duty to make everybody comfortable.
He said to Cynthia, “It is your turn to say: it is very nice to meet you Rishi?”
They all laughed, now Cynthia took Rishi’s hand in her both hands and started shaking it.
“Indeed it is very nice to meet you Rishi.”
Mother and daughters started serving the tea.
After tea Rishi abruptly said to Cynthia, it is a beautiful evening let’s go out for a walk.
They walked around the lake in the silence and then climbed on a low hill. At the top of the hill under a tree was a small temple. Tree was surrounded by a large platform made of granite slabs. Cynthia sat there and Rishi sat on the ground cross-legged that too was a solid rock. In the south was the sprawling city of Bangalore, and in the north were the more mountains. Sun was already set but still it was light. Cynthia’s mind was numb she no word or thought was coming to her mind. She found Rishi a very ordinary person, his face and gestures were peaceful, that’s about it. No further indication. Probably Arvind already told him about the rendezvous she was waiting. No big deal. Now Rishi was lying on the ground with his both hands under his head.
They heard a hissing sound and something stirred under the bush near Rishi’s feet. A large black snake emerged out. She froze in horror, she tried to scream but no word came out of her mouth, she stood up on the platform and pointed to that snake. It was now inspecting Rishi’s shoe. Rishi saw the snake without any expression of fear on his face. Snake now crawled over Rishi’s legs and their eyes met for some seconds. Snake now spread his hood; Rishi was maintaining eyes contact, it now retracted his hood but was still looking at Rishi. Cynthia was watching it with horror. Cobra now started crawling away from Rishi’s legs, when it was half past, its body was now on Rishi’s stomach. Rishi creased it with his hands. It again stopped, turned its head in the direction of Rishi for a moment and moved on and disappeared in the cervices in the rocks further.
Cynthia’s senses returned, she was still standing and trembling on the platform.
“That was very scary.”
“Today I am making many friends.” Rishi laughed, he was still laying on the rock. It was getting dark; they could see the city lighting up.
“You fool, get up quick and take me out of here.”
Rishi rose and helped her to jump off the platform and they walked down. In the fear she was holding his hand tightly.
Once they were below the hill and by the lake, ground was clear of bushes. She was relieved. They arrived at a place that was once a granite quarry. Same pit of the quarry extended to two ponds and became a lake. They sat on the stepped layers of granite facing the town and the lake. Lotuses were dangling in the clear water.
“Are you an-Enlightened-person?” Abruptly she asked.
“It all depends upon your definition of Enlightened.”
“Let’s say Buddha was Enlightened.”
Breeze was blowing; Rishi was feeling and hearing the passage of the air on his face and bare arms. Anytime air came from the side of lake, it brought the freshness of water.
“Buddha considered himself a very ordinary man, it were others who made him famous.”
That made sense to her but still she was disappointed to hear this. She sat in silence.
He asked, “What if I am enlightened? Then what difference it may make to you in particular?”
She had no answer; neither Rishi was waiting for any. Few minutes passed.
He placed his arm on her shoulder. “Come on Cynthia, look into your mind? Open up. What are you going to do if I am enlightened?”
She giggled and first time she felt at ease with Rishi.
“I guess, being enlightened means knowing about the mysteries of life and death.”
“Say I know-it-all and then what? What difference it may or should make to you or to me.”
“Then then-then … I don’t know.”
“It is taboo then.”
“I don’t think so,” she replied.
“Is it about peace? Look into your mind. Now.”
She nodded in silence. She tried to look into her mind but could not figure out anything.
He said, “How knowing about the mysteries of creation, about life and death can bring the peace? Or just any advantage?”
“I have no idea.”
Rishi jokingly asked, “So what do you think, am I enlightened or now? People said it about Buddha, not he himself.”
“After that snake incidence I feel you have something that I don’t.”
“What is it?”
She fell in thinking and she wanted to say: You have no fear, you have peace ….. But she didn’t speak it up.
It was getting dark; they walked around the lake to reach Arvind’s home. Rishi started telling her jokes and she was laughing.
“You know - I was so anxious to see you, I was looking at you from the terrace.”
“Oh really, you wanted to see An Enlightened nut and here I am.”
Rishi started telling her jokes and she was laughing.
Rishi asked her about what she does; she replied she is doctor, Nephrologist. Rishi told her about the farmer and about the herb, the liver and kidney medicine.
“Oh that’s what you picked from the bushes and ate.”
“Yes, that’s what I picked to make sure it was the same.”
“Wow! Be careful you may kill yourself one day”
“I have few leaves in my pocket.” Rishi showed her those leaves.
Arvind was home, they all were worried because that area was infested with snakes. He was standing on the terrace to look around and he saw them coming. It was a relief and he was amused about how fast Rishi and Christine became friends. As they approached he could hear them laughing. At the short notice he also invited his partner Jatin and his family. As Rishi and Cynthia entered in the home, Arvind handed them a chilled beer to each. They all sat in the living room and talked.
Arvind called Russet Rolf to join the party but he declined, tone of his voice did not spare the fact that he was not happy about his daughter socializing with his clients.
Cynthia told them about the snake that crawled over Rishi, hissed and spread its hood and walked away and Rishi creased its body, Rishi was instant celebrity there. Jatin asked Cynthia about bags under his eyes, his doctor said it is due to his permanent slightly high level of creatinine in his blood. She asked to see all his test reports etc. Rishi gave him Punarva leaves; he washed those leaves and reluctantly ate them and gulped the beer to rid of the stingy taste in his mouth.
Dinner was served at 10pm. Rishi had to walk to the main road to catch the bus to city so he bid them all goodbye and begun to walk away to the door, Cynthia stepped upon her fee and followed him. They were outside. Frogs were croaking in the lake and a very large moon lit the rocky hills and surroundings.
“Bye Cynthia,” Rishi started shaking her hand in his both hands.” She laughed.
“Not bye yet, let me accompany you to the main road.”
They walked in the direction of road that was half kilometer away.
“It is nice to know you?” she said.
He walked in silence.
“Rishi may I see you again.”
“Yes anytime you wish.”
“That sounds great.” She said with joy.
Rishi felt the fragrance of jasmine in the air. He stood still and took a deep inhale.
“What happened,” she asked.
Did you feel the fragrance in the air?
She focused her senses. “Yeah, I think it is Jasmine from natural flowers.”
“Just be with this aroma of the creation.”
They walked in silence in the direction of main road.
“Rishi once I wanted to be a perfumist. I was obsessed with fragrances and scents.”
“And once I wanted to be a camel driver.”
They arrived at the main road.
“Well now I will walk you back.” Rishi took her hand and turned back, they arrived at the turn of road where Arvind’s home was visible.
“Wait a minute, are not you forgetting something?”
Rishi pulled out a business card from his pocket and wrote his email address on its back. She was amazed because she wanted to ask him for his email address.
“Bye Rishi.” He turned to the house and started walking.
He watched her till she entered in the premises. Then he turned and walked back to the main road. He again stopped at the place where jasmine fragrance was still in the air. He stood there for some time but it was getting late to catch, one of the last of the buses, he started walking.
Arvind again dropped Cynthia at the hotel. Upon hearing her foot steps her father opened the door; again with a glass of scotch in his hands. He was visibly angry. Nobody said a word, she entered in her room. Her father had a dark side; he was a very revengeful person. His bullying behavior drove her mother to suicide. She only wished, he stays angry upon her, not on Arvind or Jatin or Rishi or else. She knew his dark secrets about how he became a billionaire. She still loved him, she had nobody but him.
She had only one beer at party, she wanted another but since none other woman touched any drink so she too restrained herself. Rishi had four and this made her angry. They two were not strangers anymore; he was now her friend and should have asked her for another drink or at least should not have ignored her after they entered in that home. She wanted a drink; suite had a kitchen and a pantry. She went to the refrigerator and took out a Heineken can. Her father was watching the TV, he looked at her. She raised the can in cheers, he raised his own. She sat on the same sofa, he turned off the TV.
She asked, “How was your day?”
“Not bad. Not bad. And how was yours!”
“It was eventful.”
“Tell me that they hooked you up with some rogue guru, dozen a dime here on this land.”
“No. There was no guru but I met a wonderful man.”
Russet Rolf was very alert now. He made another drink and looked in the eyes of his daughter.
“Tell me about it.”
So she told him everything.
“And what comes next?”
“I am looking forward to meet Rishi again.”
Russet Rolf was now very worried.
“These rogues are cooking up schemes to steal my daughter away.” He meant every word he said.
“No dad, it is not like that?”
“I made them, these Arvind and Jatin, how dare them ……. “, he slurred.
He shook his head side to side. She kissed him goodnight, stood up and went to her room.
Cynthia finished her beer, her mind was still restless. What Rishi said was reverberating into her mind.
What if I am enlightened? Then what difference it may make to you in particular?
Come on Cynthia, look into your mind? Open up. What are you going to do if I am enlightened?
She thought: Yes he is probably enlightened on the line of Buddha, he has peace. Then what am I am going to do. How it is going to affect me or it may solve any of my problems or may create more problems. I can make him friend, or forget it, people come and go. I do have many problems, I am not happy, was never happy. I am just dragging myself to the chores of life, one boyfriend to other, gloomy hospitals, sick patients and …
Then she remembered the aroma of jasmine. She smiled.
Just be with this aroma of the creation.
She went to bathroom and took the soap, it was Mysore Sandalwood. She brought it to her pillow and tried to feel its fragrance. Thoughts in her mind started scattering and she fell to sleep.
After four drinks of scotch Russet Rolf went to bed but sleep was miles away. He did not like the way Arvind and Jatin were enticing his daughter and setting her up with some Rishi. He only saw conspiracy. They were only using his vulnerable daughter to gain or rather extort more business concessions. This is not going to happen, was never going to happen. They underestimated him already. Russet Rolf built his electronic empire by ruthless tactics. In his twenties he started his career as stock broker; at 24 he married a rich heiress and the only daughter of a media mogul. With her money he bought an almost bankrupt, transponder and aircraft-electronic-parts manufacturing company. By tempering its book and in nexus with crooked boiler-house brokerages he took his company on New York Stock Exchange, sold the stock and walked with millions of dollars of profit. Company changed hands and instantly collapsed. There was a big cry on the Wall Street followed by SEC investigations but he lost his stockbroker license but was never indicted. Two years of experience in Transponder business was a milestone for him. He fell in love with electronics-components. He bought a huge defunct factory premises in Pennsylvania for a song, started his own transponder and aircraft electronic equipment manufacturing operation. Then he met Michael Milken, Junk Bond King. With the use of Junk Bond and leverage buyout, hostile takeovers and corporate raids, Russet Rolf built a billion dollar electronic empire. He was manufacturing electronics modules for aircrafts, ships, nuclear power plants and railroads. In March 1989, a federal grand jury indicted Milken on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud, but that time Russet Rolf was already in five hundred richest people on the earth. Now laws in United States were very tough, Russet, cunningly, started raiding companies in the developing countries where politicians and officials were always available to the highest bidder. One of his tactics was to overburden a company with his orders. Then suddenly pull out of the deal by using hidden and double meaning language in the contracts. When that company was suddenly driven on the verge of bankruptcy, he other companies bough its stock and gradually assimilated that company it into his own network.
Exactly that he was planning to do with Lasergear Electronics Corporation Limited.
Rishi missed the last bus but a truck driver gave him a ride to the Bangalore, ring road. There he had a cup of tea with the driver at a roadside tea stall, there he took an auto-rickshaw to his apartment that he was sharing with his 3 friends all were engineering professionals. He arrived in his room at 11pm, changed clothes and fell to instant dreamless sleep.