Thursday, November 30, 2006
I am Happy
Not a hollow statement, but a fact
I roll in the joy snatched in between periods of hectic schedules of whatever kind of work I am doing
But does happiness always have shadows of gloom lurking around it?
Must one feel the pangs of sadness after having been happy.
Must the claws of depression snatch you from those tender halcyonic moments?
And for what?
The sadness that perverts you does not even have a fountainhead.
Its just... there, watching silently, and gloating at you.
Why? Why? WHY?
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
MURDERED, OVER & OVER AGAIN
“I have given her some character & I hope she deserves it”, rasped senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani on national television when asked why he was maligning Jessica Lal’s character to defend Manu Sharma. His shaking, bull dog cheeks emanated the kind of disdain & disrespect that countless women have faced while taking on their rapists, assaulters & belligerent lawyers in courtrooms. A rape or murder case is never complete without the mention of the character of the woman. More important than the crime is the question whether she asked for it.
Think back & remember some of the recent cases concerning women & you’ll be enlightened by this cause & effect theory. Mika kisses Rakhi Sawant in public gaze, yet it is she who is dragged over coals because she was dressed inappropriately & because she pecked him on the cheek first. Bipasha Basu spoke against alleged assault on her dignity in
Now Ram Jethmalani is implying that Jessica Lal was not killed for her refusal to serve a drink to Manu Sharma. And that someone killed her because she refused to part with something she had given to others but not to this unnamed man. He is implying that Tamarind Tree was a pick up joint where people came thirsting for more than just a drink. So Jessica Lal got shot by someone who wanted more than just a drink from her. The rest is easy to deduce. Manu Sharma was not even present at the scene of the crime but Jessica was playing a bar girl at an unearthly hour, interacting with strangers, bestowing favors to some & refusing others. When a thwarted man’s ego couldn’t take the insult, Jessica was hot in the head. Guess whose fault it was?
Meanwhile, Jethmalani is doing to Jessica exactly what every woman has experienced in some form or another. Sita was abducted by Ravana because she crossed the Laxman-rekha. She was abandoned by Ram because she had been rendered impure by supposition. Draupadi was accused of starting the Mahabharat because she had laughed at Duryodhana’s clumsiness. History blames her & not her weak, gambling husband or Duryodhana for the bloody, epic battle that followed. If a woman wearing a skirt is preyed upon, it is assumed that her dress is provocative. If a woman in Hijab is attacked, it is because she is different from others & evokes curiosity & resentment. How dare a woman step into certain temples or mosques & sully the pure minds of praying men who may begin to entertain impure thoughts about her body! She is the one who needs to be wished away so that the world can run peacefully. If she relents to male attention, she is cheap. If she resists, she is stubborn & needs to be taught a lesson.
Character assassination is the oldest weapon in the world, and when used cleverly, it can harm a woman more grievously than any physicalinjury because it dilutes the intensity of the crime against her & justifies it. It creates a grain of doubt in the mind of law enforcers & bystanders whether she was actually instrumental in attracting harm , whether she was a victim or covert aggressor, enticing or provoking a man to forget himself?
Why is that in our society all responsibility lies with the woman? Why is our law so ineffectual & biased, and our cities & villages so unsafe and our society so prejudiced that even a dead Jessica Lal is put on trial while her murderer roams free?
Excerpts from “Murdered, over & again” – Indian express, 28/11/06
A classical case of justice delayed, and denied. It is disheartening to know that democracy has come with a price, with the balance tilted unfairly towards the wrongdoer. A casual chat with my lawyer friends makes me see the grim picture of the decrepit condition of Law & Order in our country. So much so, that the term "Law & Order" baffles me. Whose law? And what order? Its all kaching! Those in an influential position & with cash-flow to divert can easily get away with murder & other heinous acts of injustice. The poor & innocent have no where to go. Amidst the disillusionment comes this sullying of character. Everyone has a right to defend themselves, and the Indian constitution provides for that one is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, this clause is abused to the hilt by corrupt individuals & many criminals. Not only that, did you know that Police officials arrest many people under the anti-terrorist law & for promotion basis. These innocent people languish in jails, with no one to defend them. These are the so called "disappearances" from the face of the earth. No explanations, no traces. The Jessica Lal and Priyadarshini Mattoo cases have still got a lot of mileage, it being a high profile case (atleast we are waking up to reality). But there are millions out there, who have no one to speak to, and no one to listen to them.
Justice is BLIND...
I am no dancer
The term "2 left feet" was probably coined keeping souls like me. How does one rate my dancing? Jerky, yes. Graceful? No !!!! Choreograph me & I might oblige. Leave me to dance on my own, and first-aid kits might need to be stocked.
However, there's been a novel interest in dance lately, namely Salsa. Joined classes after some persuasion, and loved it!!!! Though I know nothing of the dance form, I am LOVIN' IT!!!! The first class was a disaster even by my own standards, but ever since it has been JOY and the flesh is responding better to the moves demanded.
Dance can work magic through its graceful complexities. Salsa is watching two bodies move as one, in absolute agreement. There is magic in it for sure. Poetry in motion? Hell YEAH ! But not the slow, boring kind!!! No way. Try it for yourself, no matter how much you suck at dancing. If I can dance, even a dinosaur can (if they still existed, that is - pardon the archaic metaphor) I can feel the energy & enthusiasm coursing through my body & soul. Am gonna love the months to come :)
Salsa is usually a partner dance form that corresponds to salsa music. In some forms, it can also appear as a performance dance. The word is the same as the Spanish word salsa meaning sauce, or in this case flavour or style.
According to testimonials from musicologists and historians of music, the name salsa was gradually accepted among dancers throughout various decades. The very first time the word appeared on the radio was a composition by Ignacio Piñeiro, dedicated to an old African man who sold butifarras (a sausage-like product) in Central Road in Matanzas. It is a song titled Échale salsita, wherein the major refrain and chorus goes "Salsaaaaa! échale salsita, échale salsita." During the early 1950s, commentator and DJ "bigote" Escalona announced danceables with the title: "the following rhythm contains Salsa." Finally, the Spanish-speaking population of the New York area baptized Celia Cruz as the "Queen of Salsa."
Salsa is danced on music with a recurring eight-beat pattern, i.e. two bars of four beats. Salsa patterns typically use three steps during each four beats, one beat being skipped. However, this skipped beat is often marked by a tap, a kick, a flick, etc. Typically the music involves complicated percussion rhythms and is fast with around 180 beats per minute (see salsa music for more).
Salsa is a slot or spot dance, i.e., unlike Foxtrot or Samba, in Salsa a couple does not travel over the dance floor much, but rather occupies a fixed area on the dance floor. In some cases people do Salsa alone.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
One of the stupidest ads of our times has got to be the Dollar vest ad, starring Salman Khan.
It shows the kids at a beginning of a race in a sports competition. One of the kids is on crutches (!!!) and as the race starts, he falls, and shouts aloud for his dad. Touched at the plight of his son, the father (Salman), takes off his shirt to show off his Dollar vest, rushes to the track and piggybacks his child. Needless to say, he wins the race. Does any of this make sense to you? What is a boy on crutches doing in a race? Plus any kind of help is instant disqualification. Hell, why am I even trying to put some sense into this whole thing? The admaker definitely didnt want me to use my brains while watching the ad. The futility of the ad permeates through and makes it such a sham.
But this doesnt apply to this ad alone. There are many many more stupid & meaningless ads like this. Many, misleading too! For example, showing beautiful models for beauty products. C'mon, the products will just improve quality of skin, not the inherent looks. Taking Asian models for hair care products is again a sham, since they have great hair anyhow without much maintainence. I know, I've personally known many of them.
Colas are harmful too, still they are being promoted so much by the wo's who in tinseltown. Thums up actually has has ad which shows an old man enjoyin the fizzy drink. Sure, its not as bad as smoking or alcohol or fatty food, but it is bad neertheless. Cold drinks contain 3TSP of sugar. How can that be good for anyone???
There are countless such ads out there which are detrimental to our lives, whether we know it or not. Not doing anything about the quality & content will leave them to be misinterpreted, but thats probably what they want us to do .....
People come & go in your life
Some make an impression. Some don’t
You feel for some. You loathe some
Butwhat you feel will never be known to others
No one knows what you think of them
Your friends in different places don’t know each other
You don’t talk about them
Your parents worry sometimes. They wonder whether you have friends at all
If yes, then why don’t you tell them of them?
In the end, you are surrounded by a husk of people
In the end, you are surrounded by the cover of seclusion
In the end, you are surrounded by a vacuum
Casino Royale, the first novel in the series of 007 novels by Ian Fleming. Also, the movie which introduces the new Bond, who's darker, more human, massively egoistic and overconfident, with his fallacies and aided by a lot of luck rather than invulnerability usually associated with heroes.
Daniel Craig is not good looking in the conventional sense of the word. He is rustic, rugged, and a far cry from the men who've portrayed Bond before him. But he plays the character with panache. The movie was touted as the one which depicts how James became Bond 007, which in actuality was not really explained more than in fleeting sentences.
In spite of the impressive performances and finer nuances of the movie, it did not give me the feel of a Bond movie. Not because of the missing gadgets (trademark Bond), but because it seemed like any other spy-action thriller. Also, not having any knowledge of card games, I failed to understand what exactly transpired on that table in Casino Royale.
Eva Green looked ravishing yet simple at the same time. Enjoyed Daniel Craig's performance. Couldn't help wondering that he would have done a great job portraying the brooding Howard Roark from Fountainhead, authored by Ayn Rand (those who've read the novel would agree with me I surmise).
On the whole, I came out mightily impressed. I had thought that Pierce Brosnan "looked" like the best Bond, but Craig has changed my perception in every possible way. Here's to the new Bond..... James Bond.
Is India facing a possible ambush?
On one side, Pakistan, which refuses to budge on the Siachen & Kashmir issues. Infiltration through Rajasthan and J&K continues. India agrees to de-militarise Siachen as a sign of solidarity & extension of the peace process, on the condition that Paki army authenticate their troop positions ( India can't take a chance . On pretexts of de-militarisation, the Kargil war happened). By continual refusal to comply with this & raising deviant issues, Pak is trying to buy time.
On the other hand is China, claiming Arunachal as its own. I wouldn't believe a word of that. China has had a history of usurping Tibet in similar fashion by staking claim over it (The status of Arunachal, meanwhile, is mad more interesting by the fact that according to maps & topographic reports, it is depicted as a free nation - affiliated neither to India nor China. Its another matter altogether that the people of Arunachal would like to live in democratic India than communist China). In a nutshell, China cannot be trusted. The war of 1962 was waged on false promises and deception that there would be no attack. This can happen again, and as in 1962, even today India can be no match for Chinese military attack, both in terms of technology & number. India is fiercely yet diplomatically trying to resolve these issues because it knows its position in terms of power. In case of war, it may subdue Pak, but China could be a much tougher nut to crack.
Many are conspiring for a piece of India, not in the way Govt of Tourism puts it, but for a part of it, literally.
Is India on the verge of being ambushed?
Sunday, November 19, 2006
FRIENDS FOREVER !
Top left =
Feblin ( Febla ) : The gentlest soul ever, my bestest friend, who's gettin married in February. Sob & hurrah ! Dont wanna let her go
Socrates (Soc) : Ever smilin', ever enthu, ever optimistic. Partner in many adventures. Is always there for you
Madhu (Maddy) : The looniest of the lot, can brighten the gloomiest of days. Is a child & a woman at the same time. Lowe !
Deepti (Dips) : Just married ! Changed from hunterwali to bheegi billi gharelu aurat. Always has a trick up her sleeve but of late , the biggest fuski
Kshitij (Joe) : Extremely humble & selfless, he is a great guy. Guys like him are rare & its a pleasure to be his buddy
Bikash (Bhiku Mhatre) : Dont let his innocent looks deceive you. Big chupa rustam. Always out lookin' for fun and a great buddy
The issue of what people eat, is a sensitive one, though seldom given much thought. What one eats is not only governed by the availability in the geographical region, but also by personal likes & dislikes and also the personal following.
On what you follow. Who you follow
Who gave us the right to judge someone on the basis of what they eat? Prejudices against people of North eastern origin, of Chinese or Japanese origin. Of people of any origin that consumes food that others consider inappropriate.
Prejudice against the other caste or society that eats an animal considered unholy in another following.
It may be revolting to the senses, but stop voicing it aloud. You wouldn't want them pointing out your fallacies in life, would you?
India's first indigenous lunar mission Chandrayan, is expected to take off by the end of 2007. At a cost of Rs. 300 crores, and a few components borrowed from the US, UK and Sweden, this ambitious project aims at exploring the "polar regions" or the dark side of the moon, which are untouched by the sun's rays & have glacial climates.
This is all very good for India's reputation & personal development on the space research front. But I could not help notice an editorial in a prominent english daily, scoffing at this extravagance. Te author argues that what exactly is the need to spend so much on space missions when millions are dying of hunger & poverty every minute in this country ? When there is so much to be done to eradicate illiteracy, unemployment and the like Is he wrong in presenting these arguments? Not entirely. Although the lunar mission is a feather in India's cap, we cant ignore the harsh realities looking us in the face. The funds & the enthusiasm is needed elsewhere too.
In light of this argument, I'm forced to think ... Is it wrong to nurture such ambitious projects in the view of the shortcomings in the background? Or are these to be considered under a different eye-piece? It is not as if the Government is not doing anything. Crores of rupees are allotted for social welfare, various innovative schemes are planned. But the implementation faces a major roadblock .... the inherent depravity in this country, which is halting the intended progress & upliftment in its tracks. Hence, a few good men and women's noble intentions are thwarted by the dirty fish of the pond.
So is this the fate of India for ages to come? An anectode comes to mind
"A foreigner once went to a wise Indian sage, and asked him, "What forms the essence of India? What is the one thing that characterises India?"
"The wise man replied, " India is a land of unparalled beauty. It has myriad cultures, beautiful monuments, awe inspiring landscapes, and its trump card - unity in diversity. But there is one thing and one thing alone that truly characterises India, and that is ... Compromise"
Nothing wrong with what the wise man said. You don't even have to be a wise man to know that.
Is this how we want the world to perceive India as? Who will provide the answers to my questions?
Friday, November 17, 2006
Some of the interesting nicknames I've had over the years :
Ching chong chowmein :
The commonest. This is an abbreviated form. Add as many consonants & rhyming word and that would be it. Used so oft that now it makes no impression on me. So looking at the brighter side, thank you all for de-sensitizing me
By those who could not pronounce my first name, this was an easier way out for them
Pretty cheeks :
Came after a Play in my Alma mater, Wynberg Allen, Mussoorie. The make up man plastered foundation & rouge on me, Result? Glowing pink cheeks. The girls in the audience from the neighbouring school were thrilled !
Also came in Wynberg. I chickened out of playing a prank on a girl. After all, it was my first week in a co-ed, and I was mighty shy of girls.
The latest in the line. Came up over a dinner of spicy chinese food ;) Dr. M has concocted many such names for me but this gets the Nobel.
What are you passions?
You say Music is ... But you dont even listen to music everyday. Your walkie lies around for lack of a headphone long due. Your CD's are gathering dust. You don't explore the finer nuances of music, or the diversity in styles. You are smug about your knowledge of music. Truly, a frog in the well scenario
You say Art is ...When was the last time you sketched anything? Something that made the viewer think. You put in so much of effort in your earlier years learning the basics of drawing, from comics of all sources, but it was an attempt nevertheless. Where is that zeal now? You just did not move on
You say making friends is... But you're still so cold & aloof so as to give a refrigerator a complex. You don't approach people, people have to approach you. You don't even bother to make a sincere attempt to atleast pretend to be amicable
You say reading is .... And then you browse through books as if you were being paid to finish it at the earliest, without registering a word. You have good books in hand, but what use is it of if you just want to flaunt them and not make use of them?
You say watching movies is... When have you gone out of your way to get hold of meaningful cinema? When have you taken out time to watch good movies rather than spend time goofing around
You say social service is... Have you ever lifted a finger to help the downtrodden? Big talk has never transformed into deeds. You are skeptical of NGO's, associations collecting money for the welfare of others. In plain words, you don't want to part with your time nor your money
You say Blogging is.... When was the last time you wrote something meaningful? Something with a purpose. Something that you believed in completely and wholeheartedly. Something you believed would change the mindset of someone out there.
Passion is a strong word, and you use it loosely. You are aloof. You are dispassionate. Your affinity does not rest in one but many places. Your mind wanders, and ends up scattered. No clarity. No coherence
You are nothing but a liar
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
There are bound to be setbacks and obstacles in every country and every community. Superstition is one such hurdle
Abundant in India, it can be one of the foremost reasons for the 'backwardness' and for several other crimes against humanity.
Let me present some recent examples.
Few months past, the brackish water of a Mumbai beach suddenly turned "sweet". One particular "expert" proclaimed that the water had been turned sweet as a result of divine intervention. This happened in the wee hours of the night, and by early next morning droves of people were seen flocking to the beach, carrying pots, bottles, containers, and anything in which they could carry the blessed water home. Some even claimed that after drinking the holy water, their aches and pains had vanished. That their years old incurable condition had been magically cured by the Gods. Repeated warnings by the Government and some Lab authorities that the 'miracle' was most likely due to the factory chemicals being dumped into the river, and that consumption could be fatal, fell on deaf ears. If anyone did fall ill, Im sure they wouldn't want to make an issue out of it as they did of the "holy water" bcoz that would just make them look stupid, isn't it? Oh, by the way, the water reverted to its salty state by late that afternoon. The cause was unknown, but the superstition could have taken many lives
Another recent event happened in North India, where a woman who had slept in a room locked from the inside, was transformed into ashes the next morning. The lock was still intact. Of course, again rumors spread abound that this Devi (Goddess) had achieved self immolation by the virtue of tapas (meditation). Soon, there were thousands thronging to pay a visit to this holy shrine, the house of the woman. Not much later, the police arrested the woman who ad supposedly evaporated into thin air, and she confessed that she had tricked everyone for the sake of publicity and also in the hope that people would leave monetary assistance at her house (which is exactly what the public did - they tossed loose change through the window of her house. If tens of thousands of people throw change, that makes for quite a neat sum). Again, a case of superstition making asses out of the people.
Then of course, is the infamous Jayamala case, where the actress confesses to have visited the Lord Aiyyappa (if Im not wrong) temple and gained entry somehow to the main altar, where she took his blessings by touching the feet of the idol. This led to instant outrage. The reason? Lord Aiyyappa is a brahmachari (one who abstains from the pleasures of the flesh and remains unmarried for life), and the entry of a woman in his presence might distract him from the vows of celibacy. This created quite a hungama in the South. My point is, God treats all human beings as one. Then who are priests and other people to dictate terms who should enter a temple or not? Even if you do consider the Lord's celibacy issue, I think God is strong enough to resist such temptations. It is US who yield to such petty issues and make a mountain out of a molehill. Women are also not allowed in temples during their monthly periods, coz that is considered being unclean.
Unclean????????? Since when did physical cleanliness become a criteria for prayer and devotion? I can be the cleanest person in the world, smartly turned out. But if I have malice in my heart, then I am the one who needs be turned away from places of worship, and not a man or woman who is physically unclean or shabby.
God is everywhere, and everyone belongs to God, and vice versa. Why would we follow rules, rituals, superstitions set and stated by people who lived millions of years ago? Dont cut nails at night. It brings bad luck Dont cross over someone. It will stunt their growth A black cat crossing ur path, moving under a ladder, all bring bad luck. HOW ? Try asking those who tell you these, and they have no concrete explanation. Simply, because they dont know. I have come to a conclusion - I dont believe in Superstitions. They bring bad luck.
From the time the British ruled us, people have exploited us on the basis of our superstitions, and will continue to do so, unless we wizen up, and move ahead in life.
Superstition is the enemy of progress, prosperity and above all, a normal life...
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Chinese lunch and Chinese dinner
Peking chicken, Crispy chicken with spinach, Fried rice, Chicken chowmein
Wonton soup,Red dragon chicken, Chicken chowmein, Szechuan sauce
All in a single day
Taste buds scream with joy
Stomach cringes in agony
Pleasure and pain
Virtue and sin
Born & having spent 7 years in Dhanbad, I was extra fluent in Hindi (a major achievement for a guy who looks Chinese). My thought processes, my compliments, my abuses.... literally everything floats in Hindi. And till I was in Standard 10th, Hindi was the only language I spoke. High school brought another kind of alienation. Now I spoke only English, owing to the crowd around me.
It was a shock for me to speak in English, because my grasp of it was poor. Messy pronounciations, wrong spelling and gross grammar. Years down the lane, The Queen would be glad to notice that I manage not to massacre her language anymore. But I still think in Hindi.
Whenever I am in Bangalore, most often I speak in English. Back home, I speak in Hindi. The transition is unbelievingly smooth, and requires no effort. But back to Bangalore, and trying to speak English again brings its aches & pains with it. My speech starts slurring again, I goof up with words & sentences and the "Ahhh"'s punctuate my entire speech. It becomes a bit of a struggle, and in the company of well versed people, a bit of an embarrassment and effort.
Once the mind thinks in Hindi, it sticks to that
Friday, November 10, 2006
When the mind is at complete peace, certain thoughts and certain cravings crop up.
While on the wonderful trip of Sikkim, I visited a handful of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries as well as met so many Tibetans. I found them to simple and extremely religious people. And when you think of Tibetan Buddhism, the first name to come to mind is that of The Dalai Lama. Books can be found everywhere, but I thought this would probably be a better place to pick one about The Dalai Lama. Faulty logic? Could be, but it's definitely easier to find such books here.
The book in question is : "My Land and My People" authored by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.
My purpose of purchase was a hope for a glimpse of his teachings, and his religion. All over the world, we know him as a compassionate, peaceful and gentle soul. And what could be better to complete the pilgrimage-like trip with a reading of his book? Surprisingly, I found this book to have negligible mention of his sermons and teachings. This autobiography deals mainly with his story from childhood to the unfortunate time when he had to take asylum in India. The Dalai Lama speaks of the tradition of finding the next incarnate of a Dalai Lama when the preceding one passes away or is about to depart from wordly constraints. It gives serene glimpses of daily life in erstwhile Tibet, the religion & culture (some of which I had the privilege to witness in person).
More than 70 years ago, 10 % of the population of Tibet were monks, and their life revolved around their religion and the Dalai Lama was akin to God for the masses. He was to be both the religious as well as political leader, a King of sorts. Buddhism speaks of re-incarnation, and with this theory the Tibetans believe in the reincarnations of the religious leaders too. Thus, the person directly chosen by the departing Dalai Lama, or the person singled out by many events and heavenly signs is to be the next Dalai Lama, the reincarnation of the previous one.
As I said, 10% of the population were monks, and they led simple, austere lives, studying extensively in arts, crafts, dialectics, astronomy, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, Sanskrit and Buddhism. Prayers and meditation formed the essence of their daily lives. There was no ill-will against any one, not even the prospective foe. Reading all this, I was transported to another realm where I felt a lot at peace, and for a brief moment, wished to be a monk. The Dalai Lama agrees that their system of governance was flawed and that their deliberate isolation from the outside world left them very vulnerable to perversion. Their contentment with what little they had, and no ambition to gain more left them ignorant - of the laws of the land, of politics, and left them wide open for invasion. The invasion came in pretty much a similar fashion as it had in India.The Chinese, like the British, feigned to be traders and slowly infiltrated the country and soon took over it. They proposed development projects, and argued that they would remain only as long as the Tibetans wanted, and would hand the wheels of the country back to the Tibetans when they were capable of it. Of course, that never happened. Like the British in India, the Chinese corrupted every aspect of Tibetan life and took over it, bit by bit. The Dalai Lama agrees that under the Chinese regime, a lot of development & prosperity did occur, but at what cost? The Chinese forced their rules & beliefs on the timid Tibetans, they enforced heavy taxes and worst of all, they hit the Tibetans where it hurts them the most. Tibetans are extremely religious people, and as I mentioned before, The Dalai Lama is of paramount significance to them. By undermining his authority, and imposing sanctions on religious meetings and the like, they really incensed the Tibetans. They became just like slaves, having to give up their way of dressing and food, losing their natural sense of mirth and their independance. Truly, as the Tata safari ad suggests, slavery was not dead here. They had just stopped recognising it. But when realisation dawned, the dam of patience gave way, and the Tibetans revolted. The Dalai Lama was a keen student of Buddhism, and also an avid follower of Mahatma Gandhi, both of which preach non-violence. He was pained by this turn of events, and always maintained that there has to be a peaceful method of solving things. Sadly, he had to give in, and flee to India, not so much as for his own safety but for that of his people in Tibet - who would have been massacred trying to protect him. Once in India, he met the President, ice president and the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru,. Unfortunately, his fond wish of meeting Mahatma Gandhi was shattered since Gandhiji had been assassinated. It was Pandit Nehru who advised The Dalai Lama about arousing international sympathy. And that's how The Dalai Lama was enlightened to the tactics and importance of politics. His repeated pleas to the International community and the United Nations focussed the world's attention on China and slowly, through an Enquiry Committee, the horrors of Chinese rule came forward. Lets just say that those horrors were pretty much similar to what had happened in the German refugee camps during Hitler's rule.
Years have passed since then. Tibet is still not a free country. The atrocities might have stopped, but freedom is a reality still millions of fathoms away for the Tibetans. The Dalai Lama was granted asylum and residence in Dharmashala, Himachal Pradesh, India, and since then he has done all he can to pressurize China to accord an autonomous status to Tibet. But I guess over the years, other events have taken precedence and the attention of the world has shifted elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Tibetans toil on, under The Dalai Lama's spiritual guidance, still looking for that elusive freedom.
The book, for the most part of it, tells us of this sad story, and of the hope for a better tomorrow.
The last handful of pages focus more on Buddhism. This is what the Dalai Lama has to say about religions :
"Just as a particular disease is treated by various medical methods, so there are many religions to bring happiness to human beings & others. Different doctrines have been introduced by different exponents at different periods & in different ways. But I believe that they all fundamentally aim at the same noble goal, in teaching moral precepts to mould the functions of mind, body & speech. They all tell us not to tell lies, or bear false witness, or steal, or take others' lives, and so on. Therefore, it would be better if disunity among the followers of different religions could come to an end. Unity among religions is not an impossible idea, and in the present state of the world, it is especially important. The perfect practice of any religion is not achieved merely through superficial changes, for example through leading a monastic life or reciting from holy books. It is even open to question whether these activities in themselves should be called religious or not; for religion should be practiced in the mind. If one has the right mental attitude, all actions of body & speech can become religious. But if one lacks the right attitude, if one does not know how to think properly, one will achieve nothing even by spending the whole of one's life in monasteries and in reading from the scriptures"
Isn't that very true and so beautifully stated? I have always believed in this wisdom, and needless to say, I have become a fan of Dalai Lama.
The remainder of the book talks about the teachings of Lord Buddha and a bit more detail of the principles of Buddhism, including the theories of what causes suffering in our lives and how we can overcome them. For the first time in my life, I came to know a little more about my own religion. But the details of that would be out of the scope of this weblog. However, the book is brilliant, depressing at times, but refreshing on the whole. I truly recommend it.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
In our day to day life, we get so busy that we hardly have time for ourselves, leave alone others. We become prisoners of our work and our schedules. We have no time for anything or anyone. This demanding life can sap the juice out of us. And then, sometimes we get to visit places that purge you clean of all worries, responsibilities and sorrows for some brief moments. Why am I saying all this? Because this trip to
The trip didn’t start on that auspicious a note. I was just back from
Immediately after checking into the hotel at Gangtok (meaning Hill-top), we were off for some Local sight seeing. This brought us to the
The next morning was to take us to YumThang valley & to Zero point (snow point). After some misunderstandings & mismanagement on the travel agents’ part, we were off. The road to Yumthang was terrible. Any similar adjectives would be a grave understatement & do no justice to the pathetic state of the roads. How shall I put it? It felt like being put into a washing machine, turning upside down, topsy turvy, again & again & again. And to top it all, the machine did not have a stop button!!! Jalebis would have been straighter than these roads, which were barely wide enough to hold 2 vehicles side by side. What made the journey even more miserable was that the Mahindra Maxx meant for 8 people was stuffed with 10 people according to the Govt. of Sikkim rules (huh???), so there was no space to breath leave alone move. By the end of the journey, hamari saari haddi pasliya idhar udhar ho gayi thi (all our bones & muscles had gotten re-arranged), as my Granny put it. And the other 8 occupants of the vehicle were Bongs, who can be sweet people but are mostly too talkative and too loud, and were very irritating in the closed confines of the vehicle. They kept getting excited at the sight of water in any form…. Waterfall, stream, river, taps!!!! For Goodness sake, I can understand the excitement for the first 10 times but they kept getting jumpy on every sight of water. By the time we reached Lachung, we must have crossed a 100 water bodies. I would know! They kept shouting “Jol! Jol!” (Bong for water) every single time we crossed water. Aaaaaargh!!!! Plus the retards actually smoked inside a closed vehicle. But once we started talking, it was amusing to realize their fascination about where we are from, are we Chinese or what etc. I guess that fascination will never die out & shall always remain a constant source of amusement to me.
We reached Lachung at 4:30pm. There were a few misgivings about the place where we were going to stay. It was a cozy little lodge by name Silver Oak, but the problem was that it was meant only for 8 people, and just like the Maxx, this place too, was overbooked. So we had 10 people trying to fit in a place meant for 8. No problem for me but there was a family with us, plus my Granny made a royal fuss too. Once all that was settled, we took off for a short walk. Lachung is completely cut out from civilization as there are no phone lines, no street lights and just a few general stores with very few things stacked up. Houses were scarce & people even lesser. Within minutes it was dark, and 5pm seemed like 10 in the night. The atmosphere was brilliant. Imagine complete darkness, and walking all alone with only the moonlight and a stick as companions, set against the backdrop of towering mountains, stars, and peaceful silence. Heaven!
We left at 6AM the next morning to Yumthang & Zero point. Again, the Bongs irritated me to n end. This time, it was twenty billion utterances of borf (ice). I kept my cool somehow, and in a few hours we were at Zero point. Though not as snow-laden as Snow point, Manali, but it was as cold or colder. We were wrapped in layers & layers of clothes, gloves, stockings, mufflers, shawls et al. At 14,000 feet, the oxygen level was pretty scant, and hence a little effort was driving the breath out of me and rendering me tired. Yumthang valley was a disappointment. It was surrounded by beautiful mountains, and far from civilization, it was very peaceful, but definitely not worth a rugged 6 hour journey, unless you have plans of trekking here.
We got back to our lodge in Lachung at 12, and after a good lunch were off again. This time, back to Gangtok. The journey was relatively comfortable this time but the Bongs negated that by upping their volume as well as their tempo. They actually beat the combined volume of my 2 loud buddies, Dr.M and Dr. I, hands down. I also realized that people can be so jobless to talk about mobile networks & roaming tariffs for 45 minutes!!! I was glad to be back in Gangtok, and all set for the next day’s journey to Baba Mandir,
Next morning Granny decided not to com along, since the journey to Yumthang had been such a pain. She was too exhausted and asked Mum & me to carry on. We left soon, and to our dismay realized that the documents we were carrying were not credible to prove that we were Indian citizens. You see, the Nathu la pass is open only for 6 months for trade between
I was infuriated by this unfortunate turn of events, but the breath-taking beauty of Tchanghu calmed my nerves and by the time we finished, I had all but forgotten the disappointment that had beset me at the beginning of the day. The scary 70 degree climb up Kempang by Yak, the awesome view from the top, and the lake itself. I never had the slightest inkling how time flew by. We were back in Gangtok soon, and having packed our luggage, we set out for a last peaceful stroll in this small yet beautiful town. On this last walk, I realized and surmised many things that I had noticed over the last week. I found people to be very simple and content with their lives. Most of the things popular & abundant in cities were lacking here, but the irony is that these people are far more satisfied with life as we are disgruntled in spite of all the luxuries we can afford. Almost all the people here are employed, in all kinds of work and no work is looked down upon. Women form as much of the work force as do men. Of course, a common sight is that of countless people loitering around, but overall they are simple in nature and in their living. There are strict rules & regulations regarding traffic movement, cleanliness and littering. An offense in either can promptly relieve you of some burden from your wallet. Here is an off the track observation, but I’d really like to commend the coolies in this region. Unlike coolies in the plains who crib & cry over menial labor and overcharge you, these hard working guys can carry incredible amounts of load. Probably equivalent to what 5-6 coolies of the plains would carry, and that’s not an exaggeration. These coolies deserve every buck they get & you’d never feel cheated by them. I also got to hear a lot of Nepali songs during the journey, and the momos, thukpa and the titora reminded me so much of my school days, where I had so many Nepali friends. The mountains and the profusion of school children in their grey & white uniforms, lining the winding roads of these mountains reminded me of school and transported me to another world – that of Nostalgia…
On our way back to Siliguri, we made a stopover at Kalimpung, where Granny had some work. That done, we went for some local sight-seeing.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I have flitted between so many places. Dhanbad, Dehradun, Mussoorie and now, Bangalore. Of course, relatives as well as the lust for adventure has again taken me to a lot of places, prominent among my memory being Mumbai (then Bombay), Kolkata (then Calcutta) and many places in Himachal Pradesh – that land of beautiful hills and scenic delights.
So many years later, the time has almost come to leave Bangalore, as I had to leave Dehradun & Mussoorie in the past. Dehradun made a very faint mark on my life and my psyche. Mussoorie succeeded in denting that hard superficiality a little more. But it was definitely Bangalore which crept into my heart, slowly but surely, until I could swear I bled Bangalore when I got a flesh wound.
I love Bangalore. I make no bones about it. I wish I could live here forever. Many people love Bangalore for the weather and the Pub culture, but I love Bangalore for what it truly stands for – simplicity, cordial & comparatively civilized people, a verve that is alive & drugged at the same time, and an ambition which is strong, yet subdued. In this place I found the worst of people. In this place I found – better than the best people. People who, unselfishly did everything they could when you needed them, without expecting anything in return. People who loved you like a brother, like how a buddy is truly to be loved – without pretensions, ego, lies or deceit. Bangalore has not yet succumbed to blind ambition, competition and backstabbing. Ask anyone what they dislike about Bangalore, and you’re not likely to hear more than, “Traffic” or occasionally, “Food.” It’s a small place where it’s easier to get across town, and hence people are much better connected. What we call “conservative” today, used to provide us with an excuse to be with our dear ones once upon a time. This is still alive in a way in Namma Bengaluru…
Life will move on when I leave Bangalore. It has to. Just a few more months to go. I can’t live in this fairy tale forever, and I can’t expect a miracle either. I have to go, but can destiny bring me back to my city of joy? I can’t say.
What is it that changes perceptions within a heartbeat? When I mention a heartbeat, I do not mean the actual brief span but a comparatively longer period. Since we call the world a small place, in the same vein, I shall call a long period, a heartbeat…
I’m back to my hometown, Dhanbad, in Jharkhand. I have hardly ever spent any time in this place, considering that I’ve been in Dehradun for 8 yrs for my primary education, and then in Mussoorie for another 2 yrs for High School. Further education brought me to
To be honest, I don’t want to come back to Dhanbad. The place sucks… a small town with not so cultured people, a place that is ridden with dirt & paan stains & bad roads & bad management of everything under the sun. A place which has extremes of weather, more towards the scorching extreme. A place with perennial water & electricity problems. And as much as I hate to say this, but yes, the problem of my parents being here too. I can see the frustration of Dhanbad creeping into them over the years. Frustrations regarding things that have nothing to do with them, but since it is something that affects life in Dhanbad on a daily basis, things tend to get a little ugly. The shouting, screaming, nagging, accusations & counter accusations are too much to bear. I do not wish to be a witness to this and I do not want this same frustration to pervert me too…
For all the above reasons & more, this place saps the energy out of me. People who see me in
Monday, November 06, 2006
There are children who are cruelly ungrateful to their parents. And when, in a state of abject dismay, the parents remind the child of what all they have sacrificed to rear him/her, they actually have the impertinence to rebuke them for having done so. These are Hindi Movie dialogues so it’s bound to be a little exaggerated, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were actually used in real life scenarios. Statements like, “Who told you to spend so much money on me? I didn’t ask you to do it” or “Don’t try to show what all you’ve done for me. When I start earning, I will pay back every penny you spent on my upbringing.”
Would you ever want your children to say that to you? Heart disease & Hypertension be damned, such statements rankle & sadden an old person even more. In extreme cases of exploitation & neglect, it could lead to a loss of motivation to live on. How can they even think of uttering such inanities? No parent (except a few exceptions) would ever rear their child with an ulterior motive. They give their all to the child, as much is possible within their means. They surrender their own dreams & ambitions at times to see you thrive. They work hard so that they can have a comfortable life, and as a consequence, you do too.
And yet, children can be so weird. Before they ever utter such words, they should look back at their lives, and think. Would they have been in the world if not for their parents? Would they have been what they are today if not for them? It’s easy to say, “They have nothing to do with my personality. I’m like this because I went to the best school” or “I have made it on my own steam. I earn so much because I work hard for it.” My friend, you are right in saying so. Yes, you have great success in life, you have the moolah and you have the moves. But what enabled you to get there? What acted as a bridge over which you could cross so that later you could build bridges of your own? Am I making more sense now?
It is disheartening to see such ingratitude in this world. I can only hope that people learn their lessons in time. And if they don’t, God / Bhagwaan / Khuda has his brand of punishment planned out for them on earth, and in his Kingdom.