Category Archives: Life: Perspective

Basanta Panchami : Saraswati Puja

For those probasi bongs who want to relive Saraswati Puja

Saraswati Pushpanjali Mantra

Saraswati Pushpanjali Mantra

Hugs

 

After coming back from the River, the young boy with curly hair carefully kept the tin made weapons in his hiding place. It was end of 4 days of Durga puja, one of the biggest religious festivals of Bengalis. The group of kids has just come back after immersing the idol in river Ganges. He knew its time to touch the feet of elders and seek blessing. Grandma said these blessings of elders help you to grow into a good man. He quickly found his way to the eldest he knew, his grandpa and touched both his feet and waited for the blessing, expecting his hand on his head. Instead grandpa held him in a tight embrace. He got surprised; he knew it was his love that showed in his hug, but he was expecting his blessing. He asked him, why didn’t you bless me? Grandpa smiled and said, “Look at everyone else; during Vijaya, we hug each other instead of blessing.”

Confused, he ran to his granny. Why hug instead of bless? What granny told him, he remembered throughout his life. When we seek blessing, we bend and accept that I am lesser than the person who is blessing. Blessing flows like a river, from higher to lower. But when we hug – that an emotion of equals. And when it’s equal – its balanced; it’s a mixture of all. It seeks blessing as well as blesses. Because, unlike blessing, love flows in all direction. And love is the biggest blessing of all. That’s what we show with a hug. And since Vijaya is a celebration of victory of good over evil, we celebrate it with love. That’s why mother hugs a child. That’s why friends hug each other. That’s why Krishna hugged Arjun before the war of Mahabharata. A hug is universal.

Years later, his Muslim friends joined him during another Durga puja while keeping Roja, as it was also their holy month of Ramadan. He joined them back by keeping Roja with them. He joined them at their home during Eid. And he was again amazed to see them hugging. One of the elders at his friend’s house, also a respected muazzin at a nearby mosque, explained – Islam teaches us to include everyone. No one is big or small in Islam. That’s what we show through this hugging. On this day we welcome even the strangers at our home and share our joy. By hugging we try to bring close all who felt shy or excluded in the society. The words once again reminded him what his granny told years back- hugging is so much important.

Sitting idle in a drizzly afternoon on a park bench, he was looking at a pair of cows, nuzzling each other. It reminded him of so many scenes of wild life and animals. They all do that – that’s their way of hugging. Its so important to have that physical touch to feel close and included. Yet the modern society has slowly moving away from it. Some blame definitely fall onto those “bad apples” who misuses the opportunity of hug for their ulterior motives. Tarnishing the image of something so blissfully pure. On any given day, the warmth of the good hug can melt away all the blues that shrouds us. Yeah – yeah! Sanjay Dutt immortalized the “Hug” through his “Jadoo ki jhappy” (magical hug) in his movie “Munnabhai MBBS”. But that just one side of it. There are so many instances where even the heads of states has broken the protocol of an official hand-shake by going ahead and exchange hugs. There are so many instances where people has just stood at the road corner and offered hugs to strangers. Go through  the religious text of any Religion, and you will find innumerable examples of prophets hugging their disciples because all they wanted to communicate was unconditional love. Even Rabindranath Tagore, started the festival of “Rakhi” where Hindus and Muslims came together, tied Rakhi on the hands of each other and “hugged” to spread the message of brotherhood and love.

Hug me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it most !

Yet, we forget all of that and just because of ulterior motives of a handful, look down on something as pure as a hug. Doesn’t it also push all of us away from the divinity too? A simple hug can make one forget so many wrongs. A simple warm hug can bring together friends alienated by misunderstandings. A tight hug can bring back a person standing at a ledge about to decide on a suicide bid. The warmth of a hug can save a person in hypothermia. When you hug someone, you get hugged back for free! Given the opportunity – I will stand on the busiest of crossing, everyday to hug every stranger, just to tell them that the hope is not lost. Hugs are important !

 

 

Shamed… Now what?

 Shamed 

So the entire nation along with the capital city is up in arms. Seems like finally it has crossed the tipping point and the nation has started moving towards some activity. I sincerely hope that this time it’s just not show of anger against the perpetrators and solidarity with the victim for a few days but eagerness to finally ensure some solution. But every time I look at the news coverage or read it on the paper, somehow am unable to withhold my emotions. Unknowingly a few droplets find their way out of my eyes. The heart has gone numb. Couldn’t write or think of anything else.

As usual when I started looking at the views from fellow countrymen, and sadly it was again the same old rant. Some were angry on the government and its mechanism, some blamed the political parties , some religions, regions and some as usual the females themselves. Yet no one actually had a concrete solution. Made me wonder that isn’t this same anger behind all the crimes against the fairer sex? So what is the solution? My mind was just unable to accept that any of these so-called solutions will just wave a magic wand and all the trouble for the females would go.

In my heart, as usual, I believed that it needs a long-term approach. I believed that we need to change the mindset. We as a nation need to believe that both the sexes are equal and need to be treated as equal. And the solution needs to start at home. Each one of us needs to teach our next generation how to behave with the females. Then I came across several write-ups, such as the one by IHM, at Hindu, by Shilpa and Anand. And could not but agree with them. The chain of thought was quite similar to mine. But still it was either anger or a long-term solution.  So does that mean that the millennia’s of social injustice cannot be changed in one generation or a decade for that matter? What till then? Will 50% of our nation keep suffering? And what happens if some of our present generation fails to teach the next generation? Do we have to only wait till the system AND the mindset change – and pray that it changes fast? Can’t we do anything ourselves?

The mind kept roaming – the anguish of helplessness made my shoulder blades stiffen. With all my pride of coming up with a solution for so many issues faced by people, where is the solution now? And to find out how other countries are addressing the issue – I was more surprised than ever. It’s not India alone. The “Violence Against Women” is a global phenomena. Whether it is Somalia or USA, Bolivia or Australia, it’s the same grim picture everywhere. The picture looks a bit better in China but whether it is an actual picture or due to lack of genuine data available was not clear. Well France, Spain and couple of other European countries seemed a bit better. The data for Sweden, Germany or Australia might look a bit skewed because of how they define “Rape”. But then that’s how it is in those countries. They ARE more sensitive to it because that’s what their society demands. Yet it was amply clear that it was not a National issue. I was very clear in my mind that it was not the system, not the political class, or regions, education, wealth – its plain simple male arrogance hit hard by female advancement. The oppressed class is coming out of their veil and men can’t take it anymore. They are becoming more and more brazen day by day. And it is getting aided by low conviction rate and social apathy.

Then it stuck – and the bleak ray of idea kept circling in my head. And when I read last morning the 6 Point Action Plan that TOI came out with, my smile was just a teeny bit wider. Of course all that it says, such as awareness of people and sensitization of policemen is required. But they will only give you results in long-term.  Sometime back a few incidents of eve-teasing on metro created quite a flutter, and a number of groups came forward to help with their action. Add to that a few technical apps such as Cell Phone tracker apps, sms message sender and cheap web cams. So the idea is to create a group of “Citizen For Women’s Safety”. Then these volunteers will:

  1. Register their Mobile numbers and location
  2. Help seekers call the registered distress number
  3. The Software locates caller location, and alerts all the members available nearest to it
  4. Volunteers rush to be available in numbers to help the help seekers
  5. The software also alerts police as an additional measure
  6. As an additional coverage, put as many web cams as possible on your home (that are near main roads and crossings) facing the street.
  7. The central server keeps record of all camera’s for a fixed number of days, to refer back if required.
  8. Activities of offenders recorded on web cams or mobile phones gets uploaded on the web site
  9. Any offender if identified and implicated by multiple person goes up on “Board of Shame”
  10. Tag these offenders socially

I know whenever there is a new initiative, there will be a lot of detractors and Nay Sayers. And on the other hand there will be a handful who might get wrongly implicated. But as male (who has firsthand experience of this kind of wrongful implicated, yet) I would say I am ready to be one those handful people who might get wrongly implicated to ensure that a much larger females might get benefited  Till such time that we have enough number of Police on street, helpful and effective, we can try to aid the system instead just being angry and blaming everyone.

What I am suggesting is just an idea that I wanted to share – and will try to see if I can reach mass and get support to put in place. Alternatively even if someone else gets the vibe and creates an even better idea and puts it forward before me – that will be even better. I simply don’t want to be “just angry” and continue the blame game!!

This post is part of the contest Who is to be blamed? on WriteUpCafe.com

In search of a better solution…

In recent days, which ever blog of substance I am going to – I just see how apathetic we collectively have become about females and their rights. From Law-makers to Law-enforcers to individuals, none are sensitive to the reality of female feeling. In fact a huge portion of female population too have been brainwashed and systematically turned against their own gender. hence whichever point I try to think could be a starting point seems hopeless. Because the primary fault as i keep shouting lies with each one of us.

While there is no doubt in my mind that unless each one of us as individual, both male and female start sensitizing our young ones, we have no hope for a better future; there is also need to do something drastic to tackle the issue going out of hand. Unless we want to see a civil war with females rising against males in near future – I feel we need some huge and drastic steps.

As I heard one activist pointing out on NDTV that its not the law but the enforcement that is prime need, I agreed to her. We already have enough laws ! We do not need to wait till a better law comes up. Lets enforce what we have till we can work out something new.  And lets do something drastic like – an All  Female army of police; in every state to start with, and like an emergency situation declared, hand over the entire policing of a town / city / district depending upon the maximum crime against females for the state. If our male polices are in-sensitive against the 50% of the civil society, let them not manage the Civilian policing and move them to other roles – such as fighting Terrorism and tax evaders.

As and when needed keep giving more powers to females as police, magistrates and judges. Turn cities and districts to females and lets see if they can fare better. Though I know how laws favoring females are used against a handful hapless and law-abiding males, yet I feel this is a option worth trying.

Please note, I am not talking about one all female police  station,  or one all-female court (that we have tried – and I feel are too few and far between to have any significant effect) but going all out in towns – cities and districts. We have seen how our mothers raised us, so lets see those mothers raise the nation too.

A lot of females (and some males too) have started thinking about building vigilante groups – perhaps a sign of things to come in future? Now most hush them up by saying “An eye for an eye – would make the world blind” – but does that mean that we are ready to have a nation full of one-eyed citizens? A jail term for humiliating another individual? What makes us believe that even if its a 7 year term, its going to reform the person? If its a 20+ years person committing the crime, what makes us believe that our Jails are such huge Psychological reform centers that they can undo the person’s psyche that has developed over 20 years in just 7 years of imprisonment? Are we ready to pay to turn our jails into super efficient psychological reform centers? Or should we need to revert back to shock treatments of yesteryears? My belief – if we do not want a country full of one eyed citizens need some to go blind (not one eye for an eye but both) so that others don’t lose either of their eyes !

The Praying Hands

How many times we look at a masterpiece and think about just the amount of money the artiste must have made. How many times we look at a painting and smirk at the owner for putting up another imitation. How many times do we look at an image on Internet and “do not” think about it except treating them as just another image?

How many times have looked upon our own hands and thought about the work it does! How many times have we looked at someone else’s hand and admired not about its beauty but the sacrifice it has endured! How many time have we spent a glance on the hands of a laborer, a rickshaw puller, or the old neighborhood watchman and thought about all the souls those hands have fed?

Well I have seen “Albrecht Durer” masterpiece – “The Praying Hands” a number of times before. In fact I have even used it in one of my posters. Yes I have admired the work, but until today never realized the pain behind it! Today I read the story behind – The Praying Hands, and hoped I could pay a small tribute!

 Praying Hands

poster

The poster I made last year for Enlightenment

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighbourhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder’s children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines. They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht’s etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht’s triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honoured position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition. His closing words were, “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will support you.”

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated over  and over, “No … no … no … no.”

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, “No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look, look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother … for me it is too late.”

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer’s hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer’s works.More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, long ago, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands,” but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love “The Praying Hands.”

Ink n Wash

After a long long time, I was able to pickup the brush and some colors. Yes colors! Somehow I was not able to move beyond the black n white world of pencil sketches. Though its not much, still there are a few splashes here n there –

Bloom

Splash of color

Freedom

Words

Mistakes

Mistakes leads to innovation, discovery and new direction. Let make some mistakes today !

-Running through the same road, can be easy and peaceful. But can we expect to do something new without travelling off the beaten track? If we are too consious about not straying out of norms and righteousness, can we do something new? Over and over again, we all have seen how mistakes and blunders have resulted in discovery and innovation. Not that mistakes will always lead us to success; rather it will mostly take us to the despairing failure. Yet the rewards of "something new" is reason enough to do things differently, taking the the risk of doing mistakes. If it leads to failure, learn from it and be prepared to do some mistakes again someday – mistakes of some different kind!

Lets be ready for some mistakes "Today"!

Child King’s return from Exile

Some write for the sake of writing, some write for money and some because they like to write. I write to emote. So until and unless there is an emotion strong enough, and that too one that I can manage well to channelize, I can’t and don’t write. And I have one of those emoting frame of mind right now. After ages, I have been able to touch the “Child King” and able to invite him out of his exile.

Been reading like a obstinate carnivore for quite some time, and it was mostly psychohistory and fantasies of few men managing the galaxy full of humans and a godly robot controlling them all at the end – as dished out by Asimov.  Somehow, I have always found most of today’s Indian writers pretty verbose. That’s completely my personal feeling and judgment, whether it was Shobha Dey, Chetan Bhagat or Arvind Adiga, but that’s how it was. So was quite skeptical picking up this one from Kunal Basu; but that was what the plan was; and I must say I floated. He held the key! It opened the door to child king’s exiled land.

Villages of Bangla, the little nuances, the squeaking of a rickshaw around the corners, talking to Matla, the mixed smell of fish and vegetable in the market, and the kites, all of them flooded the memories; and the Child King bolted! He ran and ran; through the mango groves, the unguarded backyard of silent homes, across the paddy field, to the banks of an obscure canal named Saraswati. There panting, standing on the banks, he argued with her for not meeting him for so many days. And then he ran back, to his  hideout, searching for his courtiers, and found none. Picking up a few Babla and green Jamrul, climbed up to his favorite branch, covered in thick leaves of the oval Banyan leaves. This was the guy, who ruled!

He found his friend the Painter looking for his color and brushes. Both exchanged the nod, and they knew – its been a long time a painting got created. The sky is slowly gathering the colors – creation might bloom soon. Its been a long time of anarchy – thought the king; its time to bring it back to its glory. Someone is playing a flute; the spring might not get skipped this year. He told the Shoulder Bearer not to raise his head and declared the reign of Dream Breather is coming to an end; he has done his job, dreams
has been carefully sown and now ready to breathe life.

Times will not be the same. They not “meant” to be. Yet they go round and round. Not to get repeated, but to give them back life and opportunity to chart a new course, sing a new song.  Someone singing – can hear the faint tunes of a “Rain Song”? The clouds waved at him, the rain seeds are being spread. It might rain again in this parched land – all hail the “Child King”, he has returned to his land.