By Ajit Harisinghani March 2005 Every once in a while, a wish comes wrapped in absolute belief and conviction. When that happens, nothing can stop it from coming true. This is the story of one such wish. I don’t do it anymore. Fantasies, once fulfilled, tend to lose their hold on the psyche. But yes, in those early years, not unlike Lahiri Mahasaya pinching himself when Babaji created a golden Himalayan palace just for him (Autobiography of a Yogi), I frequently pinched myself to confirm that all this was indeed real. That our dream house was actually standing on the ground and that I was standing in it! Most mornings though, as the glorious sun covers the hills with a mantle of gold, the first act is still a prayer of thanks to the powers-that-be for making it come true. I feel blessed. The house itself is perched halfway up a hill in the midst of a green forest which is home to over 50 species of exotic birds, some deer, rabbits, jackals and yes, some snakes too! Visitors still find it hard to believe that they are in Pune city! ‘Feels like we are in Mahabaleshwar’ is an oft-repeated comment. (Mahabaleshwar is the main hill station in Maharashtra, perched atop the Sahyadris and located at the source of five rivers). To begin with, I think this plot of land found me, rather than the other way around. There I was, riding around the hills of Pune on my beloved Royal Enfield motorcycle. There was no money in my bank account but a very strong wish pulsating in my heart that I wanted to and would, locate my dream space somewhere around these lovely hills that garland Pune city. I have a vivid memory of a lovely December morning when the sun was shining, a nice breeze had worked up and everything seemed to have a beautiful glow around it. I’ve been calling it a whim, but in reality, there was a guiding force that prompted me to turn my bike on to a mud road passing through a desolate, dry valley surrounded by the hills of the Bhambhurda forest. Coming to the end of the road, as I parked my bike and sat down on a stone under one of the few trees there, an instant sense of peace and well-being engulfed my awareness. I sat there for an hour, my body vibrating with an inner thrill which told me that after all the wanderings around the world, I was finally home! I counted 22 species of birds which flitted all around me, and which somehow seemed to be an affirmation of my belief. Like Carlos Castaneda (author of the famous books on the Yaqui Indian, Don Juan), I had found my spot! Meena, my wife, agreed to come see the land of my discovery and she also fell in love with it instantly. We didn’t know it then, but this stone would be the exact place where our house would ultimately stand. Over the next few days, an intense desire to own the plot gathered momentum. It was an ever-present knot in my stomach. And I meditated and prayed to my cosmic mentor Babaji, with an intensity which surprised me. I really, really wanted to build the house here and nowhere else! Babaji, to my delight, showed me the way. I don’t mean to imply that he appeared before me and told me what to do. Babaji, to me, is a symbol of the power of the cosmos. And because cosmic power is an omnipresent and all-encompassing force, Babaji’s magic is ever present all around us. When I tap this magnanimous resource through a prayer, I become connected to it and become powerful by the association. Answers began to replace questions, almost by themselves. And the odds against the realization of the wish, which initially were stacked high, began to improve in my favor. Many things began to go right. First, it was the previous owner who had to be convinced that I could afford to buy his plot, so that he would take my proposal seriously. I courted him like I hadn’t courted anyone before! And from a potential sceptic, he began to magically transform into a friendlier and more cooperative soul. I had only about a thousand rupees in my pocket with which to seal the deal of five lakh rupees! He accepted my promise to pay the other Rs. 4,99,000 within a month. A million things could have gone wrong but none did. In fact, everything seemed to conspire to make it happen. For example, in the way that the hefty sum finally became available. I did have to take a few dramatic decisions, some against the advice of friends and family, but it all continued to go smoothly. We sold everything we had, borrowed the rest and lo! The magic plot was ours! Meena and I designed the house and an architect friend gave it the professional touch. We meditated on the space and floor design keeping our prime concepts in mind: that all rooms would have adequate light, breeze and be as big as we could make them within the total permissible plinth area. The entrance would face the North-East. We explored vastushastra and realized that it proffered some concepts which made logical sense. After all, this ancient science in its pure form is plain, logical, common sense. And rather than trust anyone else’s logic, we decided to depend on our own. Around the time we began construction, the forest department initiated an afforestation drive for the Bhambhurda hills and this place began to be transformed from a desolate, rocky and hot area into the verdant green paradise it now is. On the day we began construction, Meena and I scattered a bag of grain as an offering to the birds whose domain we were intruding into. Instead of getting a pandit, we had opted for a personal prayer which was addressed to all the jivatmas, the sentient beings around us: ‘Please forgive the disturbance and the inconvenience that the building of this house will cause. We mean no harm. We appreciate the privilege of being allowed to share this magical place with you.’ And then, Saddam attacked Kuwait, and the price of cement escalated. Rains came in a torrent that July, wetting and wasting some bags of this precious stuff. Many now forgotten obstacles arose and dissolved. Building a house, they say, is a marathon enterprise, and they were not wrong! It involved interacting with 227 different agencies, which was a hectic, even traumatic experience, but finally the house was born. Conceived and delivered in nine months and 10 days. Our baby! And now, after all these years, the house has become a mother to all of us. The garden is a safe haven for many life forms – the birds and the butterflies have many trees to build their homes on, many flowers to flit amidst. Once in a while, a large bee, butterfly or even bird strays into one of the rooms and cannot get out because of the mosquito netting on the windows. These lost friends are safely escorted out and they seem to bless the house in return. We do not live in conflict with our environment. The garden soil nourished through vermiculture takes care of all our wet garbage. It is a good feeling to be in a harmonious relationship with Mother Nature. The two terraces and a host of other quiet corners are places of personal refuge when one wants to read or listen to music alone. A straw-roofed hut has come up in the garden and has become a place for afternoon siestas. Many friends visit us because they enjoy a respite from their busy city-based lifestyles. The atmosphere is soothing and there is healing and love in the air. The unabashed laughter of children or the occasional call of the peacock punctuates our conversations. The sudden brilliance of a shooting-star as it streaks across the night sky is a special bonus on summer nights. Living here has changed the dynamics within our family too. The ever-present silence has made us more reflective and calm. Sickness and disease are alien entities here. Bliss and well-being are in the air. Babaji appears to have taken us within the magical fold of his benevolence and this house bathes in his cosmic light. Ajit Harisinghani is an infrequent author who works as a speech therapist in Pune, and can be contacted through his website www.speechfoundation.com
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