Thursday, May 13, 2021

Why Performance Is Subsidiary in Winning Elections

By Kali Hawa

It is believed that caste factor plays important role in elections, perhaps it does but caste dynamics remains in flux; there is no guaranteed loyalty.  What however is true though, selling a dream to unsuspecting masses. We have seen slogans winning elections in India over and over again. It was Indira Gandhi who first realized importance of a slogan, an endearing catch phrase that connects with the people. “Garibi Hatao’ sounded cliché to me even when I was just an adolescent and yet it connected with masses. In addition some very demonstrative acts, even if very destructive, brings out a decisive character attribute of the leader such as nationalization of private banks and abolition ‘privy purse’ by Mrs Gandhi. Madam won election hands down. Mrs. Gandhi was without doubt a decisive leader; she was skilled in political maneuvering, expert in foreign policy and held nerve in trying situation as in ‘Bangladesh War’ but she was total disaster in economics and a vindictive dictator. The problem with such leaders is that they are disconnected from reality simply because nobody has the nerve to bring bad news to them i.e nobody can tell the king that he is naked.  

In contrast Atal Bihari Vajpai was accessible, open to discuss ideas, consulted specialists and also a smart pragmatist therefore produced visibly striking performance in all areas be it foreign policy or economic front or bringing social stability to the country. In spite of being the darling of the media and producing catchy slogan, ‘Shining India’, which unfortunately did not connect with masses, lost election. Whereas Manmohan Singh, an accidental PM, lacking image of a decisive leader, low profile and the bogyman of media , steered the country admirably in trying economic crisis. The performance of Manmohan Singh government was even better than Mr Vajpai’s government given that, he had no political standing, no charisma and a hotchpotch irresponsible collection of colleagues. Lost lection to Mr. Modi, on slogan ‘Gujarat Model’ sold successfully to the nation by BJP. Mr. Modi acquired image of a decisive leader without saying a word on ‘Gujarat Riots’ as a person who is willing to inflict retribution, one way or the other, to an idea carefully cultivated that majority was being ignored. In truth there was no ‘appeasement’ of minority in terms of tangible economic sops, although there was surely appeasement of clergy of the minority by giving them more dogmatic leverage. Manmohan famously said, ‘History will be kind to me’; I have no doubt about that.

During his reign of seven years Mr Modi has inflicted serious damage to the country; be it the disastrous demonetizations or botched implementation of GST or unplanned, whimsical lock down in wake of Corona pandemic. He showed some leadership in initial stage of pandemic  but developed cold feet when real crisis emerged, fixing  responsibility on states while still latching on to most controls. There has been no serious development in the country ever since Me. Modi took control of the country and yet such is his aura that he has acquired ‘divinity’. Nothing sticks to Mr. Modi, blame rebounds on his detractors. He will remain in saddle for many more years; it doesn’t matter if there is no tangible development or still more damage and injury inflicted on public.

When To Be Flexible And When To Hold Ground

By Kali Hawa

Once again under Semal tree I closed my eyes, got in ‘padmasan’ posture and started meditation thinking is it one off thing or this Semal tree is really charmed! In any case one swallow does not make summer neither does, I guess, two. It occurred to me that sometimes I am brusque which, even though unintended, offends people around me.

I am not a foodie, I do not savor food nevertheless I enjoy food. I am a frugal eater, it was not always so. I made some sacrifice to get here. Initially I had to suppress urge to eat and withstand starvation, the reason for doing it was to remain fit but more than that I hated bulge in my tummy. Gradually it became habit and then normal routine. I gave up lunch and now I am satisfied with two light meals a day this does not make me feel weak or deprived through the day. Coming to the point; when I eat, which is one less than most people, I go into a trance. Food appears to me as celebration of life therefore those are nirvana moments;, during meal I do not want any distraction if there is something I need I will sleep walk to get it therefore If someone asks me, ‘Do I need anything’, I usually become brusque because the distraction breaks my trance and this offends the person who is trying to be nice to me. I know this and I am aware of it and yet I am unwilling to be flexible on this account. This is something about my lifestyle which cannot be compromised.   

There are other times when I am brusque and rude but those moments are NOT part of essential lifestyle therefore regrettable. One should be flexible most of the time, owning up flaws in one’s character whereas rigid and when it comes to core character.


Prisoners of Children

By Kali Hawa

It was early morning; the Sun had just come up shining over the Semal Tree. I was strolling near the Semal tree, soaking in the earthy aroma of pleasant morning when a thought occurred to me. This Semal tree fascinates me, why not sit under it and mediate. May be Buddha like awakening awaits me, so, on instinct, I sat down on the ‘Chabutra’ in ‘padmason’ pose, closed my eyes.  

Several thoughts passed through my mind. What derives the world; is it self-interest, our ego, peer pressure, emotional pressure etc. Then a strange notion occurred to me, as elder citizens we are prisoners of our children. Early in life we made our parents responsible for us, rear us and provide best they could afford to make a success of our lives. May be there was an underlying idea that in their later lives we could become anchor for them which is largely true ( barring a few exceptions which are trumpeted vociferously and wrongly to make us insecure) but mostly it was the done thing, it was the way of life. Most of us are conformists; we like to go through the motion unless there is imminent reason to do otherwise.  As senior citizens we have a limited life remaining and all those who are adequately provided for must make the best of it and yet we are governed by our children. We are not much use to them and yet they have this strange notion that we are required and be preserved. All I can see is that the only inputs we provide are about the traditional rituals such as marriages, funerals etc. all other advices are promptly rejected and rightly so.

I say do your thing, there is little wine left in the bottle you can either save it, later to be thrown away or drink it.       

The Drone

 by Kali Hawa

 It was afternoon in Badolgaon; a little boy was playing outside his house. Now and then his mother would call him to get inside the house as the sun was beating down mercilessly. Even though the Sun was warm, the air was cool under the shadow of Timla tree; a light breeze made matters more pleasant.  As usual villagers take siesta during this time so he was all alone out in open stretch of barren land save that Timla tree. Boy was not in mood to sleep so he was playing all by himself, digging holes in ground or breaking twigs, collecting small boulders all the while ignoring calls of his mother. Soon his mother gave up. A while later he heard an airplane whizz past above him making that familiar sound. He looked up at the sky but couldn’t see anything, the plane had disappeared. But he was surprised when he heard a thud; a carton had dropped from the sky not too far away from him. He pounced on the object to claim ownership. In a jiffy he tore open the cardboard box. Inside was a nicely packed drone, thermocol packing saved it from any damage. Furiously he assembled the device and launched it up. The camera on the drone began to relay images of the village on his cell phone.  When the drone passed over the Semal tree near the temple he was surprised to see an old man sitting under it. He brought down the drone to have a clearer view. Even more surprised when he found the old man was a Chinese. 

Boy had been to temple many times but always accompanied by some responsible person, just now nobody was around; entire village was having siesta. But the boy decided to find out who was that Chinese old man sitting under Semal tree. So he brought down the drone, carefully packed it in its box and hid the box in a thick bush. After a lot of dithering he managed to muster enough courage, began walking towards the Semal tree. At the tree he found the old man equally surprised at seeing him. The man appeared in a state of shock. The boy coyly asked,

Who are you, Sir?

I am Li Jei. Who are you? Where is this place?

This is Badolgaon, boy said.

Badolgaon! Where is it?

In India, Sir?

Why are you calling me Sir? I am just a little boy.

No Sir, you are an old man.

The old man became angry, said,’ I am a little boy, nine years old. My name is Li Jei and I live in Wuhan.

Boy pointed to him to look at his arms which were wrinkled like an old fellow. When the old man looked at his arms, he jumped in shock then began to cry like a little boy. When he calmed down the boy asked him what happened to him?

The old man narrated this story....

An hour ago I was playing in the yard in front of my house in Wuhan. It was a hot summer afternoon, my mother kept calling me to get inside but I ignored her. There was hardly any traffic on the road which passed by the side of my house. I was busy playing by myself making a mud house in the yard. Then I heard a crash, a small truck had turned sideways spilling out a lot of cardboard boxes. I ran to the site of crash. It appeared that an old man was driving the truck carrying its cargo to some depot when suddenly a dog appeared in front of it. The kind old man wanted to save the dog so he made a sharp swirl, causing the truck to turn sideways. As the old man climbed out of the cabin, he didn’t seem hurt. Seeing me he said, ‘Hello boy, what is your name?’

‘I am Li Jei, Sir.’

‘Li, could you keep a watch over these boxes while I go and get a crane?

‘Yes Sir.’

So the old man went away to fetch a crane. I quickly stole a box and hid it behind a bush in my back yard. After some fifteen minutes the old man came back with a crane which lifted the truck to upright position. I helped the old man with the loading of boxes back into the truck. When all boxes were loaded, the old man said, ‘Li you are good boy. My boss is very tough on me; if one box is missing he will sack me. I have a family to look after therefore I cannot afford to lose the job.’

Then he gave me one ringet and went away. When he was gone I quickly retrieved the box from the bush and opened it. There was a shining drone inside. I was very pleased with my steal so assembled it and launched it up. As the drone went up I saw the images it relayed on my cell phone. Strangely it relayed the scene of truck crash again and again even though there was nothing on the road. And then I lost consciousness. Now I am an old man sitting here in Badolgaon.

The boy said, ‘Don’t worry, Li Jei, come with me.’ So the old man followed the boy to his house. The boy took out the drone box he had hid in the bush and said, ‘Return this box to the old man and you will be OK.’

As soon as Li Jei got the drone box he disappeared. Boy, even though dismayed at losing his prized drone was nevertheless happy at doing a good turn. He went back to house. His mother said, I have been calling you so many times but you would not listen. Today is your birthday therefore there is a present for you and showed him a cardboard box wrapped in shiny paper. When he opened it, there was an identical drone inside. 


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Sadhu And the Monkeys

 There is a large Semal tree by the side of a less travelled road and a dilapidated temple across it. The ruined temple is home to two monkeys. Nobody comes to temple so they lead peaceful lives, drawing sustenance from the jungle all around the place.  Occasionally ascetics pass through that road to get to higher mountains, take rest under the Semal tree, drink water from a nearby dyke. The water in the dyke is dazzlingly clear and simmers in sharp sunlight, should be exhilarating to parched souls. On the whole it is a good place for short rest before moving forward to appointed destination.  Not too far away is a sparsely inhabited hamlet of simple folks, just in case one needs help one can fall back on it’s reassuring presence.  Villagers rarely venture this side of the jungle; probably some mythical curse deters them to come to this side.  

Peaceful life of monkeys was interrupted by a Sadhu who decided to settle down under the Semal tree for considerable time.  It was not liked by the monkeys but Sadhu ignored them. Given their mischievous nature, monkeys began to pester Sadhu. Initially Sadhu thought that the monkeys will tire out of their pranks so showed lots of patience in ignoring them. One day one of the more adventurous of the two monkeys, climbed up the Semal tree, sat right over the Sadhu and started dropping crumbs and half eaten fruits and nuts. Seeing no effect on Sadhu, the monkey dropped poo over ascetic then quickly descended, sat right in front of the Sadhu to mock him.  This apparently was the last straw on camel’s back. In a stern rebuke he yelled, ‘Freeze!’

It was spring time, Semal tree was in full bloom, laden with fat crimson flowers most delicious item for the monkeys. This was the best time for monkeys to have plentiful stuff to eat and make merry. Jungle had lost its fearsome character instead a kind of serene tranquility pervaded the atmosphere. It was hard for anyone to lose cool in such time and yet such was the menace of the monkeys that mild mannered Sadhu lost cool. The rebuke of Sadhu had telling effect. Immediately the marked monkey felt his foot firmly glued to ground. No amount of effort would make him to get his feet break free from the grip of the ground.  First he began to shout in panic, made wild threatening gesture at the Sadhu but all was in vain. Sadhu had no impact whatsoever by the antics of the monkey, meanwhile his mate, who was watching the entire thing from sidelines got in his act. He was angry, very angry.

In mad frenzy he began to hurl whatever he got hold of, boulders, twigs fruits, nut etc. Sadhu kept his cool and dodged all projectiles. But the effect of all the hurling on other monkey was bad. Every item the other monkey hurled on Sadhu, an inch of this monkey’s body began to turn into stone from down below. He looked at his mate beseechingly to calm down. After a while when all of his legs were turned into stone, his mate gave up in exasperation and walked away in despair. When he came back he saw an unusual sight.  Sadhu was feeding ripe Timla (a kind of pear shaped fruit found in Garhwal which has honey like syrup inside when ripe) fruits to his mate. His anger began to subside; he was puzzled by the behavior of Sadhu, became thoughtful. At last he went to the jungle picked prized fruits and offered them to Sadhu, who looked at him kindly offered half of them to his mate. Later when Sadhu went to dyke to drink water, monkey broke a small branch from a Neem tree, used it as broom to sweep the area clean. He collected soft leaves and made cushion for sadhu where he used to sit for meditation. Every day, he saw that his mate was regaining his body inch by inch which had turned into stone. In a few days his mate was complete free from the curse of Sadhu. 

Sadhu stayed on for few more days then left for higher mountains

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Garhwali Folktale............

[ I tried to find a Garhwali folktale but couldn't find one so made up this from popular Russian lore . The end kind of reflects Garhwali sensibility ]

Gairola and Badola were two childhood friends, lazy bums; in American idiom you can say pathetic losers. Gairola was the stronger of the two. Tired of their ways the villagers booted them out of the village. The friends decided they will try luck in town but between the town and village lay a dense forest. Summoning all their courage the two friends embarked on this treacherous journey through the forest. They spent the night in jungle trembling in fear under a tree, the sole source of relief was a fire that kept them warm and also provided succour from darkness and elements. They were lazy bums but not short on empathy. In the middle of night a terrified squirrel fell on their
lap. They caringly provided it shelter and comfort. 
At dawn the squirrel morphed into a yaksh. Pleased with their conduct the yaksh bestowed on them a boon each. 
“Ask for anything Gairola” he said.
“Any thing?”
“Sure anything reasonable; I will try to make it happen”
So the Gairola thought for a while and them said,
“I want a goat”
Bingo! There was a robust goat by the side of Gairola. It was now turn of Badola,
"You, Badola! ask anything”
Badola took even more time to think and then said resignedly,
“I want Gairola’s goat to die”
In a flash the goat was dead, very inert……….
Yaksh was puzzled, he asked Badola
“You could have asked for two goats Badola”
Badola whispered quietly in Yaks’ ears, “I thought about it. Life yaksh is a little complex not everything is works out the way you want. If I had asked for two goats, I would have eventually ended up with nothing and Gairola with three goats.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Tiny Beautiful Rose

This button size rose will not grow any bigger but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. This inspiring story will tell you why……
There is an old sweeper in our building who spends time in the shades of parking area, may be his own place is cramped and stuffy in this hot weather and large open space liberates his spirits. He has a discarded pram, rickety but still functional, in which he adoringly takes care of his infant grandson, I see him there off and on, sometimes the child is left all alone sleeping in the pram in hot afternoon… the old man likely nearby, running some errand.

Yesterday afternoon I came back home after dropping my wife at the station. While parking I didn’t notice a plastic bucket, it was white and matched floor color lying on the way so it came under the car and dragged with horrible screeching sound. Immediately my temper exploded at the carelessness of the jerk who left that bucket there. Then I saw two pillars away the old man pushing the pram, he left it and came rushing. My anger melted as I saw the man wet all over in guilt and beseeching. I quietly helped him retrieve the bucket from underneath the car and said, “No problem”. Suddenly I felt an urgent need; I went down the block in hot afternoon bought some toffees and gave it to child in pram. I felt a sense of nirvana and very beautiful like the small rose, dazzling!
I decided both the old man and I am, are beautiful persons, just that I never noticed it. Small beautiful things are visible only when you focus on them. Big celebrities are also ugly at places if you closely look at them like Sri Sri Ravishanker doesn’t see any value in Malala to deserve Nobel Prize. Try telling him, muster courage and put life on stake KNOWINGLY as Malala did by challenging the terrorist and going to school.