Saturday, December 21, 2013

Who is Victim In Davyani Episode?

A Hysterical Media
Indian media behaved like third-grade soap on the tube whipping up victimhood frenzy. Clearly a law was broken and the host country had every reason to act. When a person signs two agreements clearly the intent is to break the law therefore Devyani Khobragade broke law of a host nation. The media did nothing to highlight this aspect of the incidence, all the time pointing out how nice Ms Devyani’s track record is blah blah….   Contrast this with Tarun Tejpal case, when he himself offered to repent by offering to stay away from job for six month this same media and rightly so, went to town shouting hoarse, 'repenting isn’t substitute for punishment by law.'
A Shameful government
It appears that this dubious double agreement practice was in full knowledge of the Indian government and been in practice for a long time. So the government of India had been a party willy-nilly allowing breaking of law of a host country. If this government thinks its diplomats need maids then it should raise salary of its diplomats else let them fend for themselves like diplomats of other countries. There is absolutely no justification for the Indian government to play coy and pontificate.
Rambo law Enforcement
American law enforcement is truly barbaric. Nobody is buying the argument that standard procedures were applied in her case. If no common sense is to be applied then why do we have human officers, we may as well leave the standard procedure to Robots. It is just not possible that these same procedures would have been followed if the case involved a European Union diplomat or even a Chinese or Japanese diplomat. If the same treatment is meted out to an American diplomat in India or any third world country all hell would have been raised.
A Smug Bureaucracy
More than the government it is Indian bureaucracy that makes the government bend rules for themselves and when caught in a corner cries foul. Devyani too is victim of circumstances in the sense she merely followed a tradition her peers so brazenly practiced for a long time. But this does not absolves her from having committed a crime just that Indian government should have been put on dock
A trigger happy Counselor
Can’t blame Bharara for not missing the opportunity for grandstanding; it is human nature. But in this case everything was known before hand, like FIR in India, several notifications to US authorities regarding missing of maid etc clearly knowing the severe penalty for trafficking involved he should rather have tried for giving justice to maid rather than punish Devyani by ambushing her clandestinely whisking away maids husband and children to US etc.
If anybody should have been punished in this case, it is Indian Government.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Don Quixote in AAP

I just viewed 18 demands AAP has placed on BJP and Congress to acquiesce before they would deign to form government. I can’t but agree with the Congress and BJP that this is appalling arrogance. Somehow I get the impression that these fellows are now developing cold feet. The nitty-gritty of governance is complex where linear logic doesn’t work. Small steps first, gather some confidence and then think about making bold changes. Those well entrenched would not surrender their turf without fight so some cajoling, some stick and some innovative tricks and tact will be needed to handle the obstinate bureaucracy. The dynamics of working of society is dicey to say the least therefore idealistic stance and reality are divergent trajectories.

They should focus on limited purpose and that is the mandate they have received. Focus on smoothening administration and public interface(the cause of inefficiency and public harassment), hold public servants accountable, limit corruption to minimum and make the administration look like it is punishing offenders; if they can do this, three quarter of the battle is over. Anything beyond this will be bonus but some of the demands they put forward are sure recipe for disaster like free houses for slum dwellers (Even if they succeed in building houses they will be sold for profit the very next day), 30% reduction electricity tariff makes no sense unless theft is reduced to zero. If economic policies make no sense then there will be no investment, we have West Bengal a glaring example of turning into ghost state during Marxist rule. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Emperor Ashok and Nelson Mandela

There are many similarities and dissimilarities between these two historical figures. Ashok was a violent man so was Mandela; while Mandela chose to be violent to gain freedom for his people, Ashok chose to be violent to satisfy his beastly ambition. Ashok gave up violence after succeeding in a brutal and bloody battle, Mandela steadfastly refused to give up violence for his personal freedom but when freedom was given to him not only voluntarily gave up violence but saved a nation from certain disaster by not being vengeful. A man incarcerated for 23 years so effortlessly shed bitterness and guided a nascent nation without rancor and with a sense of reconciliation is unimaginable greatness.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What is reality?

Two branches of sciences that will eventually merge with philosophy are Quantum Mechanics and Neurology. Quantum mechanics is really spooky with uncertainty of probability based time space position while Neurology hurtles to throwing up questions like why we need God! Both these sciences in the end reach a stalemate with philosophy; what is reality?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar

There was a time I was a rabid fan then an admirer and later of and on critic. Near 70-80th   century he became totally self absorbed scoring last 20 runs to century in pain staking singles to the detriment of team interest, this however can be forgiven after all he is human. Lets us not get overboard then. He is an awesome cricketer but just a human like you and me. The cricket part is gift just as Lata got her voice, V Anand his ability to think chess. Are we to celebrate a gift? If so we may as well declare a lottery winner a hero. He says he worked hard, Lata too says she worked hard in fact she did work hard to get her Urdu diction right (btw it is flawless) M F Hussain too worked hard but there are hundreds of cricketers who have worked harder but they lacked the gift so remained on the periphery.

There was a tennis player Ivan Lendl, a fellow with enormous focus and purpose in life. He was not gifted like John McEnroe or other legends of tennis but his dedication and focus to reach to top of tennis is stuff to be admired. A man without the gift carved a place for himself at the top. He is my hero.

S R Tendulkar can be my hero if he takes a call on controversial political issues. He has an aura and status to influence people and government, let him use that position to influence thinking of society rather than keeping a convenient neutral stance. A fellow who takes the path of least resistance can't my hero.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Badola was an agricultural implements salesman. One evening he was hurrying home after a busy a day, reached a crossroad. It was drizzling incessantly therefore the road was murky and milieu bleak. In the middle of the crossing was a large banyan tree around which a round platform. There was no one save an old man sitting on the round platform. He approached the old man and asked,
‘Which road leads to the station?’
The old man looked at him intently then said,
‘It’s a long time now but I remember a guy, a professional chess player wanting to go to station, taking this road on your left but came back haggard and disgusted he then took the one direct in front of you, didn’t come back.’
‘So the road in front of me goes to station?’
‘So it seems but another guy, a Kathak dancer also wanting to go to station took that road but came back haggard and disgusted. He then took the road to your right, didn’t come back?’
‘Beats me!’
‘That’s not the end of it, on one another occasion I met a football player wanting to go to station took the road on your right came back haggard and disgusted. He then took the road to your left didn’t come back!’
‘I don’t get it. You are saying that chess player was lost in the road to left, the Kathak dancer was lost in the road straight ahead and footballer lost in the road on my right.’
‘Quite so I am afraid.’
‘So which road I should take?’
‘I don’t know; you will have to figure that out yourself.’
Badola tried hard but couldn’t figure out so the old man said,
‘I heard that there is fiery canal a short distance on the way on your left. A rope bridge in very bad shape hangs over. The water on canal speeds under it foaming and roaring. You have to cross it to make any progress on the way. The road straight ahead of you also has a hurdle. Just a short distance from it passes through an elaborately constructed maze. It’s a dicey thing to enter the chance of getting lost is high. The road on your right similarly has a problem.  As soon as move up hundred yards you come up against sloping down tunnel. Its sidewalls very rough and abrasive and the road is covered with thick layer of oil. You need to pass through this tunnel to make any progress down the road. ‘

Badoala thought for a long time then said, ‘I am not ready yet’ and went back by the same road he came.    

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What is Hinduism? A Counter View

Hinduism is an Attitude

Is Hinduism a way of life

Emphatic no, Hinduism is not a way of life. On the contrary it gives complete freedom to live life according to an individual’s choice.  In fact it is a chaotic assembly of individuals who are not bound to any core doctrine. Even though there are scriptures specifying ways to conduct life but nobody is bound by these scriptures and hardly anyone follows them. Hinduism is in fact an attitude; an attitude that allows coexistence of myriad ideas often in contradiction to each other.

Hinduism is not a religion

On the contrary it is more than a religion, it is a collection of religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Dvait, Advait  and many more each having a complete philosophy of religion.

Hindus worship many Gods

It is true that Hindus worships many Gods but they know that the various Gods they worship are only subordinate Gods something like Angels who have power to bestow boons to make life better. These Gods cannot deliver ultimate salvation in any stream of the various religions. Each of the streams either believes in a supreme entity or such an entity is totally irrelevant in their scheme of things. The subordinate nature of Gods is clearly explained in the ‘Viraat Swaroop’ of Krishna in Bhagvat Gita. Everyone including Brahma and Gods are seen within the open mouth of Krishna, they are all within Krishna not outside of Him. Shiva seems to be the sole exception.    

Hindus believe in God

Only a few philosophical streams have existence of God whereas in majority of the streams God is either rejected outright or it has no relevance. But even in those streams where God is acknowledged, the God is not central in a Hindu’s quest. In reality most Hindus believe in God.

Then what is essence of Hindu spiritualism?

It is the self discovery more than realization of God. Most Hindus believe in existence of ‘Atman’ indestructible across death and rebirth. The essence of Hindu philosophy centers on unraveling Atman. It is all about finding oneself the realization of God is a consequence of self discovery.

So anybody who gives space to other faiths is a Hindu?

No, a person should also believe in Dharma to be a Hindu. Dharma is living righteously, not necessarily a theist but live ethically. In reality most Hindus don’t live ethically therefore are not really Hindus.

If Hinduism is so liberal and capable of abstract thought then why rampant tribalism in its practice?

This schizophrenia is result of abstract thought evolving concurrently with tribal practices. Hinduism didn’t borrow tribalism it was born from tribalism, the cult of sacrifice to appease elemental forces were natural corollary to base human fear associating inflicted injury as a consequence of anger of the powerful adversary. Overtime there were too many aberrations in this linear reasoning to explain cause and effect relationship of events therefore more esoteric concepts evolved to explain the nature’s way of working. In addition evolution of human mind was bound to raise questions of occult and at some stage seek meaning of life. Relative peace in the subcontinent and leaving the thinkers alone by warring clans allowed ample time for wise men to evolve abstract concepts of Brahman and Atman to explain meaning of life. When esoteric abstract concepts began to evolve the wise sages did nothing to curb the cult of tribalism as they realized the abstract concepts of Brahman and Atman were too esoteric for the common folks to comprehend. It was natural that at some stage need to synthesize practiced religion with the abstract philosophy would arise. The result of this synthesis was gold plating of tribalism with fine Sanskrit poetry and razzmatazz of elaborate and colorful rituals.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

G R A V I T Y: A Review

I don’t go out to watch movies; it is too much work and often a bout of déjà vu for I have seen too many of them in my hay-days. So went to see G R A V I TY primarily because all the critics were unanimous with their superlative reviews. It turned out to be a case of déjà vu, I had been there, seen it all in parts to make it whole. It is not really science-fiction deep in future but a case of contemporary narrative albeit in outer space. The 3D effects are mindboggling, attention to details in outer space accurate and production values the very best. Yet I was not swayed. I hear people are making beeline for repeat views, beats me! I am really foxed.

Years back there was a movie ‘Yadein’, it had one actor (Sunil Dutt) and one set and long monologues with other voices. It won Grand Prix at Berlin festival. I found it clichéd; this movie also has more or less one set but two actors and no story. It is one slick Discovery channel disaster documentary and after a while, when the special effects wear you out, boring.

I even found one incident jarring and it happens to be the pivotal event in the narrative. You see in space there is no effective gravity therefore nothing exerts constant pull except constant thrust from nozzles. In this case Sandra Bullock was entangled in loose cables while George Clooney was attached her through a long strap. Now here is the problem, George says cut me off the strap I am pulling you away from the cables. There is no effective constant force like gravity out there space therefore how was he pulling her away?
My rating ***  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Con Men and Placebo Effect: Azha Ram the Rascal

Why are folks from subcontinent such twerps? May be they are plain lazy waiting for a windfall or simply conned. Why are we not in peace with the way the world runs, after all it is not some cryptic rocket science. It generally rewards hard work but there are some people who are disproportionately rewarded for no work or punished even for hard work but that is aberration rather than the rule. It is not some act of kindness or retribution from the almighty God but random occurrence. Think of this; you have a bunch of marbles in your hand which you toss in a pit like in a game children play. Most will scatter but a few marbles will necessarily drop into the pit. Are these lucky/unlucky marbles?

Let us reconcile to the fact that a large majority will be rewarded according to their efforts but a small fraction will be disproportionately rewarded or punished. Quirk of our nature is such that common occurrence is ignored but the odd ones glows like beacons in dark night. We notice these aberrations and ignore vast majority going about their regular humdrum life. Here comes the conman in the garb of a saint and convinces you that God is a sorcerer whose pleasure is tied down to bizarre acts and odd numbers. What is magical about ‘five namaaz’, three , seven parikrama or hundred and one chants or fasting and depriving oneself of comfort to please these deities! These saints thrive on placebo effect. Roughly a quarter of patients given dud /blank pills and told that this may improve their condition actually benefit from these blank pills. Similarly a quarter of the  those flocking these saints actually a get a high due to placebo effect, but it has no contribution coming from the God men. While majority not gaining from the them is forgotten these jerks are selectively exhibited.

Decide for yourself …… If you believe in God, won’t helping a blind man cross the street will be weightier than a life time of temple visits, or namaazs?     

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Adventures of Little Babu: Flying Club

The boundary wall at the back of his house was about three hundred meter away. It was supposed to have barbed wire top for protection but lack of maintenance rendered it flat and bald. The space in between was filled with Imli, Jamun, Mango and other assorted tropical trees. A narrow road ran parallel to the boundary wall. Across the road was an obscure flying club surrounded by high barbed wired fence. The flying club usually lacked activity, a fluttering cylindrical piece of cloth slung to a pole bellowing in air was sole animate object meant to show degree of intensity and direction of the wind. On the far side was a small hanger, its gates mostly open; you could see a couple of twin seater aeroplanes there. The runway was only partially visible due to uneven growth of grass. Sometimes these small planes would take off from the runway hover over the sky and return. When in the afternoon Mom would take siesta, little Babu with his friends would run off to the boundary where a fallen tree trunk on the wall made a bridge for them to climb up the wall. They would sit at the top of the wall and watch planes taking off and landing on the runway. 

Beyond the Flying club and on the south side was empty land. Once he heard older kids in a huddle talking in hushed tones about some ‘lakaRbagha’ roaming around and taking children away. He couldn’t quite make out what a ‘lakaRbagha’ was, thought it was a delinquent man who had a piece of exotic wood (lakaRi therefore lakaRbagha) that emitted some kind of toxic fumes which would faint little kids. The myth of ‘lakaRbagha’ stayed in air for a while without causing much panic but mystic aura of ‘laKaRbagha’ remained with him for a long time; died only when he learnt ‘lakaRbagha’ was merely a hyena. 

The northern flank of boundary wall was behind the MI room. There was a railway line running along it. Those days steam locomotives would ferry passengers across towns. This track was mostly busy with passenger trains, hardly any goods train passed through it. Years later young Babu used to pass through this line to attend college. Every time he would pass through this section he would eagerly look at the campus in a surge of nostalgia. The house where he had spent his childhood looked awfully small to him…………


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Adventure of Little Babu: Temple

The temple was in the middle, dividing the elitist section of officers and the one belonging to JCOs. In army this divide is pretty sharp and dehumanizing. The temple was a bland construction, a hall on one end and an acute pyramid like ‘garbhgrih’ at the other end painted most likely in white, saffron and azure. Tropical trees stood like sentinels around it but not exactly obscuring its view. It was the place for occasional hangout and nocturnal adventure in festival times. Every now and then little Babu and other kids would volunteer to sit in the hall and make those decorative strings with colored papers. They would have wads of yellow, crimson and green or some other colored paper and a ball of jute string called ‘sutli’. They would paste on the string these triangularly cut colored papers in systematic order till all the papers were exhausted. It was a tedious and boring job, the only reward being a sense of accomplishment and noble purpose behind it. The temple priest had two sons the elder Devidutt was stern looking reserved type but the younger one Gokulanand for some reason reminded him of monkey god Hanuman, perhaps he was as energetic and frivolous as a monkey. These two fellows were buddies of his much older brothers. They would occasionally organize ‘Ramayan paath’, a twenty four hours nonstop relay reciting of Tulsidas’ Ramayana. They would set up a ‘chowkie’ at one side of the hall, decorate it with four banana trunks and trinkets, setup the holy book and install a bulb above it. A large ‘dari’ would be taken out from the storeroom and spread on the hall for the audience which mostly was a bunch of kids like little Babu. Little Babu was not allowed to sit on the podium and recite even though his one year older brighter sibling was. He would still accompany them to the temple and stay over the night. But for the sense of adventure of spending night outside the home, it wasn’t really fun. At night all kinds of insect would collect and hover around the glowing bulb. The reciter of ‘paath’ would constantly scratch his exposed limbs or shoo away the moths, meanwhile someone will be busy making dark maroon tea from a make shift ‘chullah’. Little Babu would make effort to stay awake as long as possible then fall asleep on the ‘dari’ oblivious to insects all around there. 

A little distance from the temple straight in line of its hall was a small abandoned pool. Its tiled walls were dark with green algae, plaster ripped at places and tiles broken all over. The pool would fill up in the monsoon with clean water. Frogs would float and jump out of the tank along with the bunch of kids. This pool was considered dangerous therefore kids were told not to jump in it. A sentry was on constant duty to see that nobody enters the pool. However this sentry combined other duties so the children would get opportunity to jump into the pool when the sentry went away on some errand and as soon as this sentry was sighted again they would jump out of it and run home. Tired of the constant harassment, the sentry decided to teach the kids some lesson. One day he deliberately went away for a long time so that everyone would be in the pool then he quietly and stealthily came to the pool collected their clothes and went to his officer to complain. Little Babu too was in the pool clinging to its wall not too far away from a swollen frog. Everybody had something on except him. He was stark naked. As the commotion rose suddenly he was overwhelmed with the realization that not only he has come out of pool naked but walk all the way home naked. It was one long walk home in utter embarrassment never to be forgotten. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Adventures of Little Babu: School

Little Babu wasn't dumb but constant hammering of such an idea and relentless comparison with his elder sibling convinced him he was one. The self doubt percolated deep into his psyche so much so that he lost the art of making effort to understand anything cerebral. As a result he found one easy escapist solution to his dilemma in the classroom. He would answer only the questions that had obvious answers. Anything complicated, he would burst in to crying releasing copious amount of tears. That would rattle his teachers and discourage them to ask questions off him because a crying child was always considered handful. This arrangement worked well for him even though fellow mates occasionally jeered at him made fun of him but he would not respond; in fact sink further into his shell. After a while it made no difference. The habit of crying in the classroom became an addiction with him and when he got tired of the game he couldn't find an easy escape route without shattering the myth that his cry in class was plain sham. This game lasted all through his stay in Kanpur only when his family moved to Secunderabad on transfer he was able to shed this burden.

Little Babu walked to school. It was some distance from home. He has no memory of how far it was but there is no memory either of tired walks to and back from school so the walk to school must have leisurely and fun. They lived in an enclosed campus of the army bang in the middle of civilian population. Army men had low opinion of civilians primarily due their own sanitized and organized living conditions. The campus was kept neat and trimmed and there was always some sort of activity that kept the men in uniform busy. One recurring theme little Babu remembers that kept the folks on their toes was impending Inspection. Some hotshot officer would descend at the campus go round the place make speeches, point out anomalies amid the chorus of 'saabji' 'saabji'. That sounded funny to him akin to calling him 'sabzi' (vegetables). Out the front gate of campus was a road they called GT road. Back then it wasn’t all that busy, some heavy trucks would pass occasionally but mostly ‘tongas’, rickshaws and people on bikes. The way to school was across this road past a stretch of empty land then a railway line ….. Just past the GT road was first obstacle little Babu couldn’t quite overcome. It was a small ‘nullah’  possibly half a meter across. There was always some flow in it and the bottom had turned blackish with darkish green algae making it look slippery. While his brothers had no difficulty jumping over it he couldn’t muster enough courage to jump over it so ran about thirty meters along it to a culvert passed over it then ran back to the join them. When he did succeed in jump over it the exhilaration he felt was so much that he jumped back and forth over the nullah several times. Going to school was a chore he disliked but he felt quite unhappy that Sunday because he was denied the opportunity of jumping over the nullah and exalt.

Monday, August 19, 2013


I had to spend a night in a spooky guest house in the megapolis going by the name Delhi. I am a creature of Bombay so harbor natural disdain for the boorish character of this glorified mega-town. 

The Y-Shaped highrise looked spooky not because of any of its constructional features but it’s dimly lit front drive had one lamp going blink periodically then awakening abruptly creating a sense of surrealism like mystery. Building itself towered all of its thirteen floors but it was bland showing total lack of aesthetics; essentially a functional construction as if a civil engineer designed it and not a regular architect. My room was on first floor; the less said about it the better. The excuse offered was that the guest house was under renovation therefore the derelict state. The only redeeming feature was the bedroom neatly tucked up and air-conditioning going full blast. I arrived at the watering hole at midnight, some alcohol in my system helped me manage my dislike of the milieu; promptly discarded clothes, switched off the lights and jumped into the bed. The day had been hectic, the weight of weariness sent me immediately to sleep. After the deep sleep period I was dreaming. 

I was with CP, an ace detective of the Intelligence Bureau; despite great skill in his trade the man had weakness for fine liquor. I knew the fellow would be in trouble someday for this debilitating hole in his professional persona. Anyway we were going from one bar to another purposelessly; CP being a fellow from capital guiding me through the downtown. After a while we were out of the glitzy part of the city and then went into a shady bar. The bartender was unusual in that setting, in fact extremely unusual. He was a standard stereotype of a Muslim from our movies……… Afghani Kurta, skull cap, thin goatee and apparently ankle high salwar which of course we couldn't see. At the bar we asked the fellow if he had Chivas Regal, the man said, sure he had without batting an eyelid. 
‘How much?’ we asked, the guy said, 
‘Four hundred bucks’. 
‘Four hundred buck!’ we repeated incredulously, he simply nodded his head.
‘Hand over’, we said
The man nonchalantly bent down under the bar, removed a large glass jar filled with an inch high glistening yellow liquid. We looked at each other in amazement … At this time suddenly it occurred to me that I have been submerged in bright light. The thought occurred to me that dawn has descended therefore the light. A few seconds later I was wide awake and annoyed at the glare of lamp right over my head switched on. In reflex action I got up went to the switch board across the room switched off the light and also the fan as the room had chilled beyond my comfort endurance. Then I went back to bed and to sleep… Now suddenly it occurred to me how the light was switched on! The thought was disturbing with only one implication. So I went back quietly, switched on the light and began thinking. The room looked still, the time on my cellphone showed 3:18

Wardrobe on the side of bed had its door ajar, through the slit I could see nothing just dark space. An empty mind, as they say, is devil’s workshop, in my case it seemed like imagination of Bram Stoker going wild. Slowly I pulled my head over the pillow, gradually lowered blanked from the face and scanned the room gingerly. All quiet except tag on the collar of shirt, slung over the chair, was fluttering from blast of AC. After some brooding I took out my cellphone and began taking pictures of the room; nothing moved, nothing showed in the pictures. By now I was enough rattled so sleeping was out of question so got up and quietly came out of the room in to the lobby. I could see a couple of cars parked below; some traffic on the road in front of the Guest House would disturb the quiet of the night. The light that was blinking kept blinking eerily. So there on the staircase I sat and waited for dawn. Meanwhile I felt thirsty so ventured into the room again but before that jammed the front door open with the help doormat. I went in and dived out with the water bottle. Then I waited endlessly in that spooky lobby, thinking about utter absurdity of life. At last I heard the ‘azaan’, call of Mullah from nearby mosque, clearly indicating beginning of day. That was sign for me to relax and go to bed, which I did and went to sleep. ….      

PS: May be the light switch was not snapped properly shut so when the room chilled the plastic shrank and the switch snapped back to on position. May be there was something in that room whatever I wouldn't want to be in that room again.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Adventures of little Babu: Raw Force

There was a Ber tree in front of little Babu’s house. It was special, a microcosm around which one phase of his precious childhood revolved. A small road running parallel to the barrack like building separated the tree from his house which was at one end of the long building. He played under the tree with his cronies, climbed its branches and heard stories of apparitions going around it in the dead of night. Every day as the dusk settled they would sit on the verandah and gossip inanities. The seniors among them told fancy stories. In summers they would sleep out in the open; mosquito nets fixed to cots with the help of four bamboo sticks. Being a large family, young siblings slept in pairs in cots. They all helped taking the cots with its paraphernalia inside the house every morning and setting them up in parallels every evening all throughout the summers. One evening just as light was fading they were sitting on the cot and gossiping merrily; nobody noticed a piece of dark thick rope lying on the ground.  A few moments later little Babu realized the rope had changed its shape, it was in V shape whereas earlier it was straight. When he pointed the anomaly to his elder brother, he dismissed it with a shrug but another chap dittoed his assertion at the same time they saw real movement in that thing. All hell broke as they jumped off the cot and ran to the shelter of verandah. Commotion brought out elders but the snake had already vanished through an orifice under the culvert. Some effort was made to draw it out but it did not bear f­ruit. So little Babu was left with lingering fear of a sliding reptile still lurking around there in the neighborhood….  

Beyond the tree was large stretch of open land, unattended and at the mercy of elements therefore ugly and at places bald. Somewhere within this forsaken land, past the Ber tree was a small clearing, an island dotted with contraptions for children’s playing; a swing, a see-saw and may be a steel lattice constituting population of that island. One evening little Babu found himself all alone in that playing area. Everybody else had left and the light was fading quickly. Little Babu was musing type, thought he was unusual unlike anybody else. Strange thoughts would occupy his mind and then abruptly he would raise he head, look around to check if anyone has seen his thoughts naked. That lonely evening a bizarre thought came to his mind. He stood near the swing and gently pushed the seat and closed his eyes. His idea was to let the seat swing back and kiss his forehead. So he positioned himself away from the neutral position so that seat while swinging back would rise to the level of his forehead. Satisfied he shoved the seat away gently from him. A couple of times the seat would not quite reach back to his position so a little bored and impatient he gave the seat much stronger push, the seat swung back and instead kissing his forehead, knocked his head sending him tumbling down to ground. He felt a numbing jolt and then mild pain in his head, rubbed it vigorously, got up and went back home. At the house his brother was alarmed to see blood trickling down his forehead which little Babu had not noticed, soon everyone was asking how this happened. Little Babu honestly told them the swing knocked him. He felt relieved that nobody asked how the seat knocked his head. He has memories of sitting at the back of his father’s bike taking him to hospital along the aerodrome road and at the hospital a large disc over his head with four dull lights focused on him while doctors fixing his head. All that remained of the incident was a small permanent scar between his eyes.

One day his cronies came to him excitedly and told him there was ‘paagal’ in the MI room. MI (Medical Investigation or some such thing) room was acronym for the dispensary where he went to get inoculated. The place was morose and reeked of spirit therefore not a friendly place. Like most things there was a sketchy version of ‘paagal’ in his mind culled from bits of information from stories he read, movies he saw and conversations. It was of combative person possessing raw force and malevolence. He felt powerful masochistic urge to see the ‘paagal’. So they set out to MI room which he now remembers was on the far end side of his building not too far away. They took the short cut through the trees. MI room, small building with asbestos roof, was surrounded by tropical trees. A disused and abandoned motor vehicle permanently occupied one end of the dispensary. So the gang walked quietly and in taut anticipation to MI room. Near the MI room even when it was not visible due to cover of trees they heard men talking agitatedly.  As they came very near the MI room, positioned themselves behind tree trunks. Little Babu peered from behind the tree trunk with a sense of trepidation. He saw a metallic cot  with its steel frame in enameled white worn off at places out in the yard. Lying on bare mattress was an average sized man his arms and legs chained to cot. The man would convulse and rent out ear piercing shriek while a couple of men bent over him. His shear presence radiated extreme violence …

That’s the image I have of the man chained to the cot exuding such raw force that it ruffled me so far away ……. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Aarasii VIII

Generally wise men of religion have long hairs and flowing beard; attired in loose robes they are impressive with prayer beads in hand evoking a sense of deference in lesser mortals. Lamas on the other hand are exceptions; they have their heads and faces fully shaved. Of all the religions I least dislike Buddhism for encouraging debate. The self realization is achieved through intense debate and questioning. Even though they don’t say it but God is completely irrelevant in their scheme of things therefore no handed down wisdom as ‘word of God’; there is no intermediate space between death and rebirth therefore no ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ concept and Nirvana is complete dissipation of existence. Buddha must have been a hell of a persuasive communicator to have convinced masses to convert without performing any miracle.

 Two lamas lived in a cave near Mansarover lake in Himalaya. They had mastered their body to respond to extreme climate and to cope with hunger for long duration as such physical pain was no longer an issue with them. They did not talk and went about their business of seeking Nirvana in their usual way of meditation and arguing with self. One exception was the full moon night when they opened up and talked.

Years went by, while lamas kept improving their control of body but hit an invisible threshold in their spiritual quest. They were not making any progress……Once Shakyamuni passed by the lake, made a brief stay at the cave. The two lamas did everything to make Buddha comfortable and hoped the enlightened one would resolve their dilemma. One full moon night when there was no wind and everything was deathly quiet, sitting at the edge of the lake the lamas started discussing utter futility of their effort while Buddha looked at them bemusedly. Suddenly he said,
‘Look at the reflection on the lake you look like hunters.’
 The lamas were surprised, immediately looked at their reflection in the lake. In that bright moon night they were astonished to see their reflections resembling those of tribal hunters. They uttered in unison,
‘How is this possible?’
 ‘But you are hunters seeking deer of knowledge’, said Buddha, ‘but always hitting a mirage.’
‘Quite so Enlightened One, why is that?
What do you desire most?
Lamas thought for a long time then one of them said, ‘Nirvana!’
‘Yes but lesser than that what you covet?’
They scratched their head but couldn't come to any definite conclusion. Buddha said ‘
 ‘You see a hunter is an intense person. He has a focused vision. And his focus is his prey. If he wavers from his focus he will not catch the prey. You also have focus but it is not intense focus. What you covet most other than attaining Nirvana is this very night when you are able to converse. You spend time of the month trying to unravel knowledge but all the time eagerly wait for this night. This distraction in our focus is the invisible threshold you hit.’
‘What should we do Buddha?’
“Never confuse objective with means to achieve it. Rigid rules are the bane of your undoing. Remain quiet if it helps you in your objective not because you have imposed a restriction ….”

After giving this advice Buddha left them …….

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Great Gatsby

The first time I read this novel in some distant past I enjoyed its plot and forgot all about it except the hazy outline of the narrative. I someone asked me, have I read the celebrated novel I would say yes indeed and would tell him yeah there was this inscrutable guy throwing lavish parties from money he apparently earned from dubious operations.  Then I noticed this novel freely available on the net about two years back read it again.  This time I loved the language of the novel and admired the author’s great perspective of looking at things absolutely unemotional way e.g. ‘I was in the war, tried hard to die but couldn’t succeed’. 

And recently when the movie created so much buzz I read it again ….

This time the novel appeared to be inspired by movies …It seemed like crisp, cleverly written screenplay. Then it occurred to me the novel was written almost a century back so it is the other way round. Our great screenplays of movies are inspired by this novel.   

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Are we waiting for someone to die?

Humiliation, in particular in public, affects us in varying degree. Some find it beyond a threshold and succumb to temptation of finality; an answer that ends all. And then we act; institute committees, thunder indignation, mouth platitudes until the gory episode fizzles out of memory.

Many of us are in some ways better than our creator because we tolerate dissent. Bullying from position of power is quite common feature of humans. Our God is regarded as the ultimate bully therefore the ritual of worship. If He is not a bully than what is the rationale of worship? The scene replicates in real life. The men in powerful position bully, some with arrogance and some in subtle ways. I write this piece because I suspect possibility of unfolding of a tragic drama about to happen. A dismayed student confides to his sympathetic teacher about his dilemma and the teacher senses seriousness in his issues and forwards his email to the head of Institute. The head sees frivolity, lack of effort etc in the concerned student and makes his email public with his own opinion and some ridicule. A communication meant for a specific person goes into public domain without his consent because a smug know-all gentleman thinks he knows better. The issue snowballs as community of students begin to take sides over the manner of handling the episode by the head of the institute. The hapless student is discussed/analyzed and opinion aired in public domain! Does anyone know if he wants to be discussed? Worst the sensitive teacher who finds fault in the handling of the incident by head is dismissed for some flimsy reason because the matter spills over public domain in which the head of the institute was criticized.

Can’t we expect some tolerance for disagreement from the head of a premier Institute? Not just any institute but an Institute that deals with humanities!

Are we usually waiting for someone to take his life before corrective measures are taken? Often it is only a possibility but should we take such a possibility lightly?        

Friday, January 11, 2013

Case of XN – XX

We all like cryptic motifs. In fact cryptic motifs which are tantalizingly near unraveling yet not quite obvious keep us glued to the subject as most likely in this case you would want to decipher what XN - XX stand for. X as you all know represents unknown thing or person and N represents an unknown integer (n would represent a rational number) XX of course in DNA language is a female of the Homo Sapiens species.

Now I am stuck in an intractable dilemma that refuses to resolve. And it pertains to fallibility of humans and philosophy of redemption. We punish people for their crime, not deliver justice to the victim. In recent upheaval surrounding the gang rape of Delhi girl we hear cacophonous chorus rising from the multitude ‘only death penalty to the perpetrators of this ghastly crime can be adequate justice to the victim’ which is erroneous reading of modern jurisprudence. At the crux of modern justice system lies right of an individual to mend his ways and rejoin the society. This however is not entirely true, in rarest cases deterrent also is considered part of modern justice system. Now dilemma arises in a case of a zombie like individual who is smitten by an ordinary law abiding innocuous girl leading her inane life oblivious to the world at large. Suddenly her world is shattered by this individual hell bent of starting a relationship with her in which she has no interest. The man is snubbed and dismissed on several occasion but he persists with obnoxious stubbornness. Eventually he is humiliated in an effort to dissuade him from anymore advances. The man is now a possessed individual; threatens to throw acid on girl’s face to defile her forever to avenge his humiliation. The dilemma unfolds now. The girl did not start this episode, she had nothing to do with that individual and yet she now leads a life of prisoner in mortal fear of this man. This girl represents XN -XX: the unknown prisoner (Prisoners are identified by a number)

The question is, can we incarcerate this individual merely on speculation but a morbidly real one that he will carry out his threat and let him to go about his business until he commits crime? If we allow that then we make the girl a prisoner of mortal fear not at all of her own making.