Friday, August 30, 2013

Photography of Whispers

I've got news for you: the world we see around us is not real. It is the bedtime story our brains have assembled for us from the billions of pixels of confusing, colorful, chaotic raw data gathered every moment through our eyes. The brain organizes these pixels into pleasing pictures, and then it tells you what these pictures mean, and then it orders you how to feel about them, and then you feel those feelings and call it “having an objective grasp of reality”, when in fact your brain has constructed the entire spectacle for your pleasure, comfort and security. You see what it tells you to and overlook what it tells you to; and it works very hard to show you only what you expect to see.If you want to see the unexpected, you can rarely trust your eyes. 

But you can always trust your camera. 

Unlike your eyeballs, a camera will actually give you the “objective snapshot” of reality you’re looking for. That’s why phenomena show up in a photograph that you’d repeatedly miss on your own, even if you were standing in the same room with them for an extended period of time. Oh, your eyeballs would pick them up. But your brain would repeatedly shoot down the data as soon as it was received. The message would never get to command central.

Which brings us to the subject of orbs.

Orbs are a specific visual phenomenon which photographers have been observing in their pictures since cameras were invented. As the name suggests, they are faint spheres of light which vary in size from a few inches in diameter to as much as a foot. Believers in the unseen like myself interpret them as a sign of paranormal activity. More specifically, we think they indicate the presence of spirits.

Orbs show up where you least expect them. I’ve photographed graveyards at night and not gotten a single orb. Then a casual snapshot of my grandmother’s kitchen yields not one, but six, floating in different locations around the room. (My mother is always so dismissive of Naani’s assertions that her dead sisters and brother regularly hold conversations with her. Maybe it is time to rethink that, mother.)

Recently, two unusual things have been happening. First, my neighbor’s dog, a beautiful Golden Retriever who adores everyone, has started barking at me whenever I come near him. He’s not even looking at my face. He’s barking at something just over my left shoulder. His eyes are always fixed at this point in space just to the left of my head.

Second, I’ve been taking more selfies than usual. (I know, I know. But all my facebook profile pictures are really embarrassing—I think my mouth is open in every single one).

And for the past two weeks, in every single photograph of myself that I or someone else has taken, there has been an orb floating just to the left of my head, slightly above my ear.

I think I have a stalker.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Many Lives, Many Selves

Okay, this is where many of my friends think I make a wrong turn off the freeway and drive off into sketchy neighborhoods.  This is where my family rolls their eyes at the restaurant table and my father sighs in dismay.  This is where the cute boy whose flirting with me at the tailgate party gets a look on his face like "what the hell have I gotten myself into."  This is where I start talking about Past Lives.

Imagine your single life is the trunk of a tree. Imagine all the roots that extend down into the soil, starting thick but branching again and again to form millions of little fibers, touch millions of lives that come before you.  Imagine that your tree is in a forest and that all the trees around you are joined at these roots.  Every single grain of soil deep beneath the ground - and by analogy every single soul in the past - nourishes not one root, but dozens, and since all the roots are connected, it nourishes not just dozens in a single grove, but millions throughout thousands of acres of forest.

No, no. Stay with me here people.

Do you every wonder why everyone who remembers a past life is a Queen or a General or a famous figure from history?  That past soul is a single grain of soil that nourishes the life of millions of people.  Just as your ancestral family tree gets wider and wider the farther back you go, and just as there are thousands of people who are direct decedents of Benjamin Franklin, and just as there are millions of people who are descendants of Kubla Khan, there are perhaps a billion people whose soul-root touches the the grain-of-soil-soul of Cleopatra, and who can remember her life, her life as it might have been, and her dreams.

Can you blame people who, if they can remember either the life of Cleopatra or the life of a 17th century shepherd, find the memory of the Egyptian queen more vivid?

Scientists say that we all share a common ancestor, the so called Mitochondrial Eve, and I believe that each one of us - in dreams, in sensations, in visions - could have access to her memories.  Each of our souls shares her "past life" experience.

So, when my friends blog about the so-called "Multiple Self," what they are really talking about, in my opinion, is this nutrient rich soil of past lives, lives in which we were warriors and witchdoctors, harlots and queens.  Perhaps each of them finds their lives influenced by the memories and dreams of Cleopatra.

Okay, I'm turning back on the freeway now...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Encounter with a Lost Soul

Vajresh is a childhood friend of mine. Like me, he has always been interested in the paranormal, but since he is an Engineer, and a "man of science, I've changed his name to protect his reputation . Vajresh is extremely perceptive and is able to sense all sorts of energies from parallel planes.  He seems to get information for his engineering work from all sorts of sources beyond the surface reality that most people live in. Now that he and I live on different continents (he in India, I in the United States) we rarely get a chance to see each other in person but we are always touch by skype and e-mail.

The incident happened many years back when we were in Mumbai, India. Due to a couple of public holidays in India falling in line together, we had a long weekend of around five days ahead of us. Our families decided that we would all go to  beachside resort at Murud which is around 180kms away from Mumbai.

It is a very popular destination among tourists because it is nearby a fort named Janjira in the middle of the sea. Janjira fort is famous for being the location of many ghost stories - one in particular that has always been a childhood favorite of mine. Both Vajresh and I were intrigued to go.

We started for Murud at 7.00 AM, and I was riding with Vajresh in his family's SUV.  It was a clear morning and we managed to reach the resort at around 10.00am.  Vajresh and I were very careful not to mention the stories about ghosts to our brothers and sisters since it might frighten them and dampen their spirits. We checked in at the resort which was really very beautiful.  It was situated on a hill very close to Murud beach. It had a great sea facing view from the front and a dense forest in the back which made us feel one with nature - getting the dual energies of mother Gaia, both land and sea.  All our brothers and sisters immediately rushed to the beach where we had a great time swimming and splashing around in the water.  We came back to the resort at around noon, had a quick lunch, rested for a while and then set off to see the Janjira fort.  The visit to the fort was nice, but not all that intriguing.   As much as we wanted to sense the presence of ghosts, neither of us felt anything.  The entire fort seemed vacant of spiritual energy.  Disappointed, we left early, and we were back in the hotel in time for a late dinner.  I was tired but Vajresh insisted that we go to his room for a game of cards before hitting the sack.  My family didn't mind because Vajresh and I had grown up, more or less, like brother and sister.

Immediately after entering his room I suddenly felt a chill in the room which made me feel uneasy.  I told Vajresh about it but he just teased me and said it was the cool sea side breeze.  We played cards for around 2 hours and really had fun.  At around 12. 00 am I decided to go back to my room.

The long day had taken its toll  and my sisters were already asleep when I went in.  Soon I fell off to sleep as well.  It must have been around 1.30am when I heard a knock.  I cautiously opened the door and was surprised to find Vajresh outside.  He looked a little worried and told me that after I had left his little sister, Jyo had started feeling very cold and started shivering.  Vajresh had found it surprising since he felt no such chill.  I woke up my mother who is a doctor and asked her to come to Vajresh's room with her medicine box.  Upon entering his room, we all felt uneasy and could immediately sense that something was amiss.  Two woolen rugs had been wrapped around Jyo but she was still shivering and her teeth were literally chattering.  When my mother examined Jyo, she was stunned to find that though Jyo was feeling feverish and her body had become icy cold.  Shrugging aside any talk of the supernatural, my mother gave her a couple of tablets to put her to sleep. I did not want to leave Vajresh alone in this strange situation and decided to stay there in the room with him and his sister.  Considering the events that happened later, I am glad I made this decision.

Vajresh was sitting on the bed, caressing Jyo's hand gently to put her at ease. I made myself comfortable on a chair. It was around 3.00 am when Jyo suddenly sat up straight in her bed with a wild, desperate look in her eyes. Vajresh, who was sitting beside her tried to put his arm around her to comfort her.  She suddenly shrugged herself free from Vajresh, caught him by the neck and pushed him. The force with which Vajresh was pushed was so great that he was literally flung like a puppet, six feet away from the bed.  To do that to a person like Vajresh who is close to 6"3 inches tall and weighs around 90 kgs really required extraordinary strength. Jyo suddenly said the following words "Mujhe Jaane Do... Jaana hai " (Let me go... I have to go!) This still is a mystery to all of us.  The voice that said those words certainly wasn't Jyo's.  Jyo stood up as if in trance and tried to go to the balcony.

Vajresh and I used all our might to pin the little girl down to her bed.  We decided we should carry Jyo to my room - away from what ever force seemed to have possessed her.  It took us both to lift the tiny girl and carry her to my room.  All this while Jyo was only uttering the words "Mujhe Jaane Do... Jaana hai ". As soon as she was laid on the bed in my room things started to return to normal. Jyo stopped resisting and soon fell asleep much to our relief.  We were both deeply shaken by the turn of events.

Though a little groggy, Jyo was perfectly fine the next morning with no recollection of the previous night's events.  She was surprised to find herself in our room.  Vajresh however put her at ease and told her that she had been sleepwalking. While my mother was settling the hotel bills, she was called aside by one of the hotel staff who, under the condition of anonymity told her that the room had been the scene of a gory incident a couple of months back.

A couple had checked in, they had a big fight which lasted late into the night.  The man walked out off the room leaving the lady behind.  After sometime the lady jumped from the balcony of the room killing herself instantly when she hit the ground.  The police had made some enquiries but were unable to trace the man who had accompanied her that night.  The case was closed. The housekeeping staff had always felt a creepy feeling in the room, though no incident was reported by any other occupant besides us.

Before I left I advised the manager of the resort to do some sort of purification or a cleansing ritual to free the tormented soul. Whether he performed the ritual or not, I'll never know since neither of us ever visited the place again.  We were just happy to have escaped without any harm.

When she was older, Vajresh told his sister what happened that night.  She doesn't believe it really happened.  However, when I think of what might have happened if Vajresh and I would not have been able to subdue Jyo, and keep her from the balcony, I still get the shivers.