Passion Room (Fini)

Continued fromPassion Room (One), (Two) and (Three)

I chafed against all the conditions the Guild had imposed. At first I was annoyed about the three item limit. Next I grumbled against the ‘once in, always in’ rule. But for this rule, I could have brought in a book, a notebook and a pen every day and spent all the time I needed to complete my home assignments with five times the time at my disposal. That would have been so convenient! I wished there was some way of negotiating with the Guild!

Though I grumbled, I was also sure that I was looking at the thing from an entirely wrong perspective. By the end of the seventh day, I began to panic. I was no closer to a decision than I was seven days ago. I didn’t want to lose the room! All I knew was a list of things that couldn’t be brought into the room. Like that helped!

Today is the eighth day. I have been sitting gloomily on the floor of Passion Room since five in the morning. Outside, it would be seven o’clock now. I’ve been in the room for ten hours! I’ve decided not to go for coaching classes today. The thought cheered me!

I have been pacing up and down the room restlessly. I peered into the busy street below, everyone was moving in excruciatingly boring slow motion. The world was going about its business unconcernedly as ever, everyone intent on their own life- just like me. The owner of the paan shop across the road, Seetaram, had just arrived. Within minutes, Seetaram- a Prabhu Deva fan(atic)- would put on some fast- paced dance music loud enough to jar a couple of years of growth out of the unwary.

Many a Sunday afternoon in the pre- Passion Room days, my efforts to catch up on my sleep were thwarted by this man’s glee in generating alarming decibels of sound. I have often wanted to murder him in cold blood. Some street urchins would whoop around and valiantly try to imitate their dance idol. Not their fault, of course. The truth is, some of them did dance pretty well.

There was one boy who was a dream of a dancer. I have seen him dancing in the evening many times, on my way back from my classes. Often, I have not been able to resist joining him. The pleasure I derive from dancing with him defies description! We challenge each other; we learn from each other. The camaraderie between us- born of a common love- is amazing. Last Sunday I asked him his name. He told me he was called Siddhu… short for Siddharta. Me Gautam, he Siddharta, both names of The Buddha! We were both struck by the coincidence!

While Seetaram went about unlocking the padlocks and opening his shop for business, I could see Siddhu lurking a few feet away. He was watching Seetaram intently. I was sure he was waiting for him to put on the music. Oh, so he wasn’t going to work today either- just like I wasn’t going for classes.

I wandered away from the window restlessly. Siddhu had to wait for Seetaram to provide the music whenever he wanted to practice. If he had this Passion Room instead of me, how thrilled he would be! All he would need is a huge mirror to cover that bare wall- so that he could see if he was executing the steps correctly- and a music player. But how would he learn new moves?

Perhaps it would be better if he got a laptop with an internet connection instead of a music player. He was smart; he could learn to use the laptop within no time at all. I could teach him myself. With the laptop and a connection to the world, he’d be able to download the latest videos and watch other people dance too. I could almost feel his delight!

Siddhu was already a great dancer. He could continue working at his odd jobs and give just one hour of his time to dance every evening. One hour would convert to five hours inside the Passion Room. As his skill improves, he would be able to look for dance gigs. I was sure he would get lots of work. And he would be able to practice more and more. How he would love it! How happy he would be!

Drifting away into a happy trace, I didn’t realize when I started dancing. The music was playing in my head. I danced, lost to the world. My feet flying, my body leaping with grace and abandonment, it was barely seconds before I found my groove. It was like returning home after a full day of being imprisoned in stiffly starched clothes which scratched and lacerated my skin. It felt like heaven to get back into my nearly threadbare, faded tee, dancing for all I was worth.

I flopped down on the floor after I’d danced for almost three hours. I was exhausted yet deliriously happy. I had never danced as well as this even when I was practicing regularly. My feet seemed have a life of their own; my body was supple, vibrant and magical as a rainbow. There was nothing I could not do!

Lying there on the floor, tired yet full of energy, I stared at the ceiling of my Passion Room. It became a screen for the vibrant, pulsating visions my imagination projected on it.

I saw Siddhu dancing at weddings and parties. The image faded and I saw him performing at a gala event. Then he was on a huge cruise ship holding the patrons enthralled by his magical performance. I saw the adulation of his fans. I saw the fulfilment of his dreams. The images were so beautiful that I sat captivated, smiling happily for I don’t know how long. Time was the least of my concerns now!

As the visions deepened, my mind gathered speed and began to race. My thoughts blurred, they were moving so fast. I couldn’t keep pace with the ideas that were tumbling out in frenzy! Something seemed to snap inside me; something broke. And then there was a deluge!

Why couldn’t he set up a dance school? Why couldn’t he have his own troupe and perform all over the world? Who said movies were the only option for dancers? With the internet, was there a limit to the channels through which his work could reach people? What on earth had I been thinking all these years?! I must have been mad!

Why couldn’t he do all that and more? The sky would be the limit for Siddhu, he was a born dancer, born to dance. That’s what he was meant to do with his life. Dance was meant to be his contribution to the world. Dance was his unique voice, his North Star. JUST LIKE IT WAS MINE!

Without the quest, there can be no epiphany.

~ Constantine E. Scaros

I sat frozen. The silence crashed deafeningly within me. The most obvious, the most beautiful realization dawned on me. All the dreams I was dreaming for Siddhu, all my joyous visions, why hadn’t I ever dreamed them for me?! How easy it was to gain a reasonable perspective when you remove yourself from the equation! If all my dreams for Siddhu were judicious and realistic, why were they impossible for me?  I felt as if I was filled with light and immense laughter. I glowed with the fullness of it.

What an absolute idiot I had been! My mother was so right! Giving up dance was an imbecile’s idea! How could I have imagined that giving up the most essential thing, the thing that made me ME, was even an option? What could compare with the joy of doing what I wanted to do with all my heart? Money can never be pursued, a voice whispered within me; it can only be made to follow. And, money like fame, would only follow soul- enriching passion, not cold, soulless pragmatism.

Almost delirious with happiness, I flew down the stairs to fetch Siddhu and share the dream with him. I had not only found the perfect use for Passion Room but a lot more than that.

I had found myself.

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41 thoughts on “Passion Room (Fini)”

    1. Well, in my mind, I could picture a sequel to this too, with the two Buddhas continuing to pursue their passions in the room, and well, becoming great dancers 🙂 Sort of like a Nineteen Years Later epilogue to the whole thing. And it wouldn’t be a Dagny inspiration piece without a North Star in it 😉 Lovely conclusion. The dreams were very vivid, and I hope he continues to seek, find and nourish his soul-enriching passion.

      1. Now that’s an idea! Why don’t you write the sequel Vinay. I’ll link your post to mine and there we’ll go. What say? 🙂

  1. I knew it – the very thought that has directed my life till date. Great tale to drive in a wonderful lesson.

    With only one difference – having enough money to sustain myself was sufficient for me. There was no thought of whether or not money would follow me if I followed my passion. It was a total irrelevancy.

    1. You are luckier than the rest of us Suresh. Our passions are frequently at the mercy of the availability of liquid cash to oil the works.

      So happy you liked the tale. 🙂 Thank you for following on…!

      1. I mean a different thing, Dagny! Enough to oil the works IS a necessity. The problem, though, arises when people even follow their passions with the underlying thought that they will eventually make enough money to not regret doing the pragmatic thing. If THAT ends up being a necessity, then no-one will chase a passion for teaching school, say, if he can also manage to work in investment banking. The former will never yield sufficient financial rewards – no matter how wonderful a teacher you are – to beat the latter, no matter that you are average there. (THAT, incidentally, was one of the points I touched upon in my GP on your blog)

        What I mean is that the pleasure of following a passion should REPLACE the quest of social status via money (Meaning money beyond the need to ‘oil the works’). Else, you will end up neither having money nor the joy of following your passion.

        1. Ah! Now I get it Suresh!

          We come to the eternal battle between being a follower of Saraswati or of Laxmi. In my part of the country, Saraswati is not only the goddess of learning. She is also, very subtly, the goddess of passion born of learning. For after all, learning yourself is surely the biggest learning of all.

          It is also said that you can’t follow both the deities. You can either worship Laxmi (and hence be focused on worldly success) or you can worship Saraswati (and follow your own soul). Those to whom worldly success is all important, won’t be able to find the tenacity to stay their course in following their passion. This last is not so much said as implied.

          Followers of Saraswati, therefore, must be content with just enough to ‘oil the works’. Their reward must come from their devotion to their passion. They must learn that the love of doing what they do is the biggest reward of all.

          Is this what you meant?

          1. Rem acu Tetigisti 🙂

            I take issue with only one phrase ‘must be content’ 🙂 When I joined the work-force, I went in with the absolute intention of getting out of it the moment I thought I had enough to live a comfortable life. And, despite the fact that my work life was ‘successful’, I could hardly wait to get out, to the extent that I kept questioning myself about whether I had set my financial targets higher than necessary. 🙂

            The point I am trying to make is that a passion will grab you by the neck and MAKE you risk everything. Even a lukewarm passion like mine jumped at the first opportunity of satisfying myself. So, there was no reluctant goodbye to lucre – it just was not even a factor once the oiling was done. In other words, I resented having to chase lucre to oil the works and was glad once it was done with 🙂

            Passion either needs to be really tepid OR imaginary; OR the person has hypnotized himself/been coerced by circumstances into seeking goals OTHER than to satisfy himself; OR a person has completely lost touch with his own self to even think of that additional lucre as a ‘sacrifice’ in the process of chasing his passion.

            The last – losing touch with one’s own self – is an accident that happens to most. BUT, above all, I think the majority do not really have any passion at all – their passions are dictated by Society. A passion for luxury cars, jet-setting and five-star hotels – with whatever thing they choose to do being merely the means – and not a passion for what they DO.

          2. As we discussed yesterday Suresh, as long as people let the world without call the shots, the agenda of the world within will always be held at ransom. The world without hates those who are driven by their own rhythms. They can neither understand not control those beats- and that scares them. To be able to walk your own path, you must be the sort of person who is supremely indifferent to the dictates of the world.

            And that’s not easy. That carries within it the threat of being ostracized from all that is familiar.

  2. Echo what Suresh said… a lovely tale to drive home a lesson we all should learn. if you do what you love, money will follow if it has to. There is no point working just for money, instead when you make your passion your work, you have peace of mind… money becomes secondary.. 🙂

    1. While I agree with you wholeheartedly (after all, that was the point of my story), I also find that it is easier said than done Seeta. We lose faith, we get distracted and we get scared. What if the money never comes… or comes when it is too late?

      If someone were to ask you this, what would you say to them? 🙂

      1. I go through it now… quit my job a year back because I was burning out and the realization had hit that I should do what I like before it is too late. Frankly I have my withdrawal symptoms… I am the kind of person who does not like to splurge when I am not earning… and I follow that religiously.. but there are times when I wonder about that aspect.. money… at times like those what comes handy is support…. my husband gives me that reassurance that if I pursue what I love, it will bring me success in whatever way in future… and money will be a by product of it.. I keep telling myself that… and I teach myself to have faith in it.. I guess Hope can do wonders… 🙂

        1. Your husband is right. Not everyone is blessed with that ‘spark’. Sometimes I feel it is a stewardship which has been entrusted to you. You must nurture it and bring it to the highest fruition you can. 🙂

  3. What a perfect end to this wonderful, inspiring story! Amazing how his dreaming for Siddhu led him to discover himself. But that’s so believable and understandable, really. We are often too limited and fearful for our own hopes, but give ourselves great liberty to dream big and wide for others. Maybe it is because of our strong attachment to ourselves, in a way. Egoism in a way. What a wonderful thing it would be if we can free ourselves from that egotistical prison that is built upon the conventionally safe pragmatism and a pursuit of worldly success! How freeing it can be if we can become generous and liberal with our own dreams and passions. Thanks Dagny for giving us the space, the “room” in which we can try and do it for ourselves.

    1. What an insightful comment Beloo! It is our desire to protect our fragile ego that prevents us from going out on a limb and taking risks. Gautam could dream for Siddhu because if it didn’t work out, it would be Siddhu falling on his face. No damage to Gautam himself. It is so easy to tell others to get up again after falling down. When you fall down yourself, you don’t find the inspiring words all that inspiring. 😀

      Thank you for that absolutely delightful summary of the story. Once again, you fill me to the brim. <3

  4. Beautiful inspiring tale. I guess we change with time and broaden our horizons. Takes a lot to experiment and take risks, without any backing. Even if its your passion. I see my son friends taking up things like stand up comedy and writing. Some take time off to see the world. With several responsibilities, my husband couldn’t think of doing the same.

    1. Thank you so much Alka. As you said, it is risky following your passion. Moreover, when you have people dependent on you, you can’t just throw it up and strike out.

      Thank you for reading this. 🙂

  5. Right, I am going to divert from the piece ever so slightly. But before that, a very poignant and moving story and one that gives me hope. I have tried to chase after money but she’s been hard-to-impress and hence I somehow found myself pursuing writing. Good, bad, mediocre – all that no longer matters to me. I write what I know best and hopefully someday it will help pay some of the bills that we have to. But the passion is there and hopefully it will continue to do so 🙂 And this post inspires me all the more to keep it that way ! Nice work Dags

    1. As long as you do what you feel driven to do, you will excel. If you are mediocre, your passion will guide you towards resources which will help you improve. If you are good, it take you through paths which will compel you to get better. As long as you let it be the driver, you’ll be fine.

      At least, this has been my experience. 🙂

  6. Lovely and fitting ending to this post and what an amazingly insightful comment by Beloo that pretty much encapsulated what you were trying to tell through the story 🙂

    1. Beloo’s comment is indeed beautiful She always adds immense value to all my posts. I wait for her to come and sum it up… to say the things I might have thought of but never put into words. It is as if my perceptions get crystallized when they pass through the prism of her consciousness. I am blessed indeed. 🙂

      Thank you for coming by Jairam. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Dagny for such generous words 🙂 I am truly humbled and honored to hear this. But truly is the thought-provoking nature of your stories and writings that are the real thing here. So thank you! Hugs.

  7. Dagny,
    I liked the way you used a story as a tool to bring out a very important message. I once asked my first year medical students why they chose medicine as a career. There were answers like-I loved Biology, and so on. Most didn’t even know what being a doctor really encompassed. And that was not surprising because I was in the same boat years ago. It wasn’t until I had worked as a doctor for quite some time that I realized this was not the career I had dreamt of. My students merely had a fascination for the ‘doctor’ tag. There was only one girl who had a different outlook. In the course of a casual conversation, she just stated how she had always had a spirit that thrived on ‘giving’, and how she believed that as a doctor, she had the greatest opportunity to ‘give’. It would be interesting to make them read this and make them think. In that regard, I found this story very innovative.

  8. The second thing is that in my years abroad, what was striking was that every individual I met seemed to be in love with what they did for a living. And they also did other things they loved. They were so in touch with their inner drives. This doesn’t seem to be the case in our country. Most people are not in touch with their inner drives; they don’t really know what they want. I pondered over the reason for this. No doubt, the economic equation is not the same here. But more importantly, it is the heterogeneity. As children, we see so much diversity and disparity around. There are people richer than us, people with a better social status, and so much more. This heterogeneity influences us, for we begin to form our own references as a child. And so, the aspiration for money, power or status unconsciously come between us and our real drives.

  9. A very beautiful story with a wonderful message. I am glad that you portrayed the parents as someone who recognized their son’s talent and wanted him to pursue that rather than the parents who push their kids to walk on the path they choose for them.
    Glad he realized it sooner rather than regret his decision later.

    1. Thank you Janaki. Yeah, somehow parents imposing their will upon children has been overused. It is almost passe now. 🙂

  10. In the West, homogeneity in terms of lifestyle, status and culture is a blessing. There, they only differ as individuals. Children are exposed to so many domains. And as they grow, they move more along the domains that truly enthrall them. Every child is born with the ability to be enthralled. But in our country, they are so often robbed of this ability as they grow up, either by parents or by society. Only the ones who are born with that extra ounce of this ability, continue to chase this and end up where they were really meant to be. To them, everything else is secondary. As I do always, I have taken too much of your space 🙂

    1. In the first place Vidya, you are I am beyond the concept of ‘my’ space or ‘yours’. This is as much your space as mine; a right which belongs to you- by grace of the love you have for the thoughts expressed here and for me.

      The comparison you have etched out between the drives of the children raised in western countries and our own children, is illuminating and concise. The outward manifestation of the core drives is very accurate. But I am not satisfied only with this. I want to know why we are like this… and why they are not.

      From what I can make out, it comes down to them being individualistic to us being collective. To them the individual is everything; to us the community is everything. Each paradigm has its own advantages and limitations. While community helps us keep connected and nurtured, it also imposes too many ‘common denominators’ upon us. It become difficult to break free of that base average.

      The ‘individualistic’ paradigm of the west gives them more freedom… but also keeps them disconnected- and sometimes lonely.

      How can we find a balance… and a common ground?

  11. Dagny,
    Thank you for the reminder that this is ‘our’ space 🙂
    I am just thinking aloud here. Fundamentally, we are an agrarian nation, thanks to the geography, natural resources and climatic conditions. The agrarian way of life heavily depends on collective effort because it involves ‘man’power. This could be the basis of the importance of ‘community’ as opposed to ‘individual’ in our society. As an agrarian community, we are more at the mercy of nature. This makes us more interdependent. Craftiness becomes a more important survival skill than intellect or creativity. The story is one of struggle for ‘limited’, considering that the population of reference is a large one. There on, it becomes Darwin’s theory. The social and cultural divides further complicate this scenario. Most children grow up in an environment dominated by this sort of survival skill, and so, they are shaped by this.
    In Western societies where the population of reference is smaller and which does not rest on a foundation of agriculture, ‘mindpower’ is nurtured and groomed. And so, they end up being a society that creates opportunities for every kind of individual, enabling each one to grow to their fullest potential.
    It is true that there is a palpable lack of warmth and also more loneliness in these communities. But the tragedy is that we gradually, but definitely outsmarting them in this regard.
    Considering that we are moving away from our agrarian base, there is a need to bring about a significant change in the mindset of people. No doubt, parents play a definitive role in this. But they are already shaped by their own upbringing. And so, the role heavily rests upon educators and the education system. We need to show our children an alternate world that thrives on their own drives, and offers them the opportunity to be perpetually enthralled. We need to revive their contact with nature within the framework of our education system. We need to relearn all the skills that were once inherent to us.
    Thank you once again for creating this ‘room’ to think aloud 🙂 Love…

    1. As you said Vidya, it is time we changed our paradigms which were designed to suit the agrarian base. Not only parents but also society must play a role. Indian society is increasingly fragmented today. We have neither let go of our old ways, nor have managed to embrace the new. A period of transition is always painful. Let us hope it does not take too big a toll on those caught in the middle of the cross- fire. But Some casualties are certain.

      Hence we see a stranglehold of the community on the individual who must be an individual. The loneliness, which was the bane of western societies, has come home to us- while giving us none of the benefits of independence. It is a debilitating and sad state of affairs to be caught in a trap like this.

      I couldn’t agree with your last para more. We need to return to our inherent skills but in new ways.

      Thank you for this discussion. It was an absolutely delightful treat! Love! <3

  12. So, I am back here after reading all the parts. Since both my sons find a mention in the tale, I had to like it just for that :). Jokes aside, I agree with the inherent message in the tale. After all, many of us have done “The Follow your heart” routine. But I do feel that it is easier said than done. Because we have families to raise and bills to pay. Imagine if you are a gifted cricketer or think you have acting talent. The road ahead is very difficult and luck is a huge factor too. You can extrapolate that to any creative field. Besides, we have earned certain qualifications, worked hard for them. It is not easy to walk away from them. I would be lying if I don’t say that I do pine for my ‘Corporate’ days. I knew I could have done so well but gave it up for motherhood. Could I have done it if my husband wasn’t financially supporting me? No! Hence I say that follow your passion is all good but practicality is important in life. One more message that I have is to give your passion a good shot but also know when you are not succeeding. There is no shame in going back to the tried and tested if the unknown didn’t work out as a career! Loved the tale!

    1. The truth is, I took the Gautam & Siddharta from your son’s names. This was my tribute to you, to the mother you are. 🙂

      I can imagine you missing your corporate days. Somehow, I think it is so wrong to give us this either/ or condition. Why can’t we have both? As you wrote in that very first post I read from you on women’s day, if corporates (and society) would just make a few essential shifts in the way the look at the whole issue of working mothers, we might even see a day when women may be able to have both.

      I can only pray… 🙂

      Oh, and knew you’d like the story. 😀 <3

      1. Indeed, will I live to see that day when women can have their cake and eat it too? I don’t know. Meanwhile, I make do with the best I have :). Thank you for finding the inspiration from my sons’ names. I am touched! I hope my Gautam and Siddharth when the time comes will be able to strike that balance between passion and practicality. It will be interesting to see for sure. <3

  13. It ends on a passionate note with a big bang. Why do we dream for others with our own script gets lost?, I often wonder. Money will come and go but what about passion, the thing that defines. Passionate post:)

    1. Thank you Vishal. The story was about passion, it was called Passion Room… it had to have passion. 😀 Glad you caught it though.

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