Sunday, August 29, 2010

What constitutes 'Beauty'?

Pageants all over the world have different profiles and target different markets. Some pageants look for swimsuit models for magazines, some look for models for the fashion industry, some look for new faces into tinsel town. Some also claim to be engaged in identifying ambassadors for welfare activities and programmes.

 I saw some portions of the Miss Universe pageant 2010 that rocked Las Vegas. And as it has always been the rule, than the exception a damsel from Mexico (a third world- or may be developing country) was crowned .And Miss India Ushoshi Sengupta not only drew flak for her fancy dress kind costume and also she lost out.

Nevertheless Mexico a developing country won the title. And that would suffice and serve well the purpose behind this expensive well marketed joke of fancy dress competitions. The many multinational manufacturers of women’s beauty products, swim suits and costumes stand to gain, because a woman from the third world, a developing country is now their mascot, and ambassador. And their sales in the impoverished third world will get a flip. New markets and vistas will be opened up.

Ostensibly as it has always been claimed, the goal of these damsels is to eradicate poverty, bring forth child welfare, empower women, world peace etc. In 2002 (I wonder if I got the year correct) the beauty pageant did do something for peace in Nigeria. When ethnic and religious violence against such events went out of control. Wonder what an impoverished country like Nigeria could do for world peace by hosting such an event. The pageant organisers had to run lock stock and barrel.
I’m not ipso facto against such pageants like Miss World and Miss Universe. But my question is what have they achieved other than triple the sale of cosmetics and expensive women’s accessories. Big marketing syndicates have gained. And the damsels who have won tactfully enter the highly rewarding theatre of activity, films and advertising.
We have such a few cases here in India too. The The Aiswaryas, the Sushmitas,the Priyankas, the Lara Duttas,the Omana Kuttans  all have got the one way ticket to Bollywood and have made it big. In what way have their crowning, fame and name ameliorated the perils of women? In what way have these ladies contributed to women’s welfare and empowerment? I remember some of these ladies declare ostensibly at the pageant when asked about their ambition, and aim in life. “Poverty eradication, children’s welfare, women’s empowerment”! What laudable and magnanimous goals!
Mother Teresa was not a beauty queen by these yardsticks and bench marks.And was never turned to by these pageants .But yet she have done during her life time much for peace , for the dis-Publish Postempowered,the dispossessed and the meek than all the beauties  can ever dream of or claim .

And the bottom line is what constitutes ‘beauty’?

Reminiscence of College days 2


I mentioned in a previous post on memoirs of College about the tour to Bangalore. And how we broke the ranks and control of the Asst Professor and ventured out in the night.
I managed to retrieve after much search few photographs of some of us who made it to Bangalore in 1978.Appearances of some are funny, and some look pretty. Some look emaciated including me.Looking back, quite a contrast nature had decreed for every person! This is manifested when one look back at the photos during the farewell party twenty seven years ago and during the trip to Bangalore.
 On the sides of the reunion function and the luncheon some of us recalled the vapid fun some had and the little, subtle infatuations during the days in college. We however concluded that a smile, an incessant ageless smile should not be taken as the acceptance of amour, of intimacy. And we were also unanimous in the opinion that the realization was quite late in coming ha ha ha ha !!
All said and done the reunion was a master act, and I m certain that the kids who came along and the spouses too would never have thought of such grand and earnest response.It is fascinating to look at the faces and try to recollect what they looked twenty seven years ago, branded as a bunch of impertinent rascals.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Musings at noon

Early this week, on the 23 August I and C lived our twenty second anniversary of our wedding, and we were in Thiruvananthapuram with my mother. In fact, the melee that life is now, we nearly forgot about that day.
Twenty two and one half years ago I was given an assuring blow by Cupid. And some eight months down we got married .At home it was a very inconvenient and unconventional decision that all had to live with because I was marrying a Christian. To me, and fortunately for C the trappings of Hinduism and Catholicism were not even a remote matter of interest and concern. The 'isms' were trivial in the mundane affairs of live.

We were in touch throughout those five months before the wedding either by telephone or by letters through mail (post). There were moments when people glared at me irritated and furious as I occupied telephone booths at public outlets for minute’s together (wish there were mobile phones then and in those times).
We exchanged by post one hundred letters each, and hand written too. And they all are still kept safe .I have not read them since. Feel that it will be like revisiting a sort of infatuation of those days! 

I wonder if the new age of computer and email, of mobiles and text messages  would provide the personal touch, the passion of the heart  and the feelings in  each alphabet, word and sentence that we store in those two hundred letters that were exchanged. There was nothing in those two hundred odd letters that denoted or even distantly alluded to the whims and influences of Aphrodite or Eros. I guess they were somewhat refined and reasonably matured exchanges. Towards the wedding month, we mutually agreed not to be in any contact what so ever from the August 1, until the day of the wedding.So the letter writings and phone calls ceased from then.

Relationships are sadly and increasingly being frivolous in the age of sms and emails. And exchange of letters and text messages would sound and   feel like writing, sending, receiving and reading business correspondence. When one received a hand written letter, one could see in each letter and word the image of the person who wrote it. There was nothing impersonal and everything was vivid. Even the Post man who ventured with the much wanted and awaited mail was seen as the harbinger of good tidings and a welcome figure at the gate.

But as life moves on and we become antediluvian and anachronistic, may be one day we will  retract into our confines and read those letters from the times  Cupid  stalked us. Which I' m certain will not be damaged by spy ware, malware and viruses.And perhaps we may in those letters see our star struck and dumb founded faces again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reminiscence of College days1

I presume that twenty eight years down is a fair time to reminisce the teens and the early twenties of once age.
I was in a college which had liberal sprinkling of the fairer sex. The co-ed institution was one of the best in Thiruvanathapuram and quite capable of standing up to the Women's colleges of that city in the matter of pretty beautiful girls.
Our class acquired a rebellious nimbus, and in the words of our professor “infamous and impertinent bunch”. The description covered both the sex in the batch.
I would in fact hesitate to term us rebellious- well if it is purely for antagonising the professor for conducting in an unconventional way, quite different from his and some of the staff members views, well then the adjective is apposite. It has to be acknowledged that the staff members were headed by a very conservative professor who would in all probability have proscribed co-education, if he had his ways. And also some of the staff members were quite respectful of him and would not will to antagonise or do something contrary to his opinion.

It all began in the first year during the fun trip to Bangalore. Those days the KK Express (Kerala- Karnataka Express) got one to Bangalore from Thiruvanathapuram. Some ten of us boys and girls took off after dinner without the consent of the leader of the pack the Assistant professor. We took a couple of auto rickshaws, bunched ourselves in and reached Brigades road and got into the cinema to watch “Return of the Dragon”. It was very late after midnight that we came back to the Hotel .And was given a severe dressing down by the Asst professor. He also reported the matter back to the college.

During the recess between classes we used to engage in the game of Lexicon cards. It was a fascinating game of alphabets and words played with “Lexicon Cards”. One needs a fair percent of erudition and vocabulary to consider the game as his or her forte. And for an onlooker,at a glance, it would seemingly be like the game of Bridge. The Staff members thought so, and we were pulled up to the Principal. Outrageous, boys and girls, they even have the temerity to play cards in the class room. This was the accusation of the Professor. The matter was given a cold shoulder by the Principal when he found what we were engaged in, but the Professor was appalled that boys and girls conduct in such blatant activity inside the college.

Once, a prankster in our midst, (whose identity is still debated amongst us) sent by post to the professor a fascinating book of pictures, those that were explicit, and akin to the ones from Khujaraho. This infuriated the professor. And instead of ignoring the audacity of the fellow who ever he was, he brought the matter in public and the whole college was laughing at his predicament. Fancy stories went around.

We found yet another way to revel in past time. There is a very Keralite game which is played in the country side. I would say it is a Kerala version of base ball. The only difference was that the bat was a stick that was feet long and the ball was replaced by another stick of six inches. And we played that amongst us with a mix team of boys and girls. The court was down the department building and in full view of the professor and the staff members’ room. Notoriety and infamy that was redefined! The fascinating game of "kuttium kollum" was thereby decreed as frivolous and a  game of impertinent bunch of rascals .

                                            The class of 1980 farewell day
The end result was during the farewell party in the far end of the terminal year the Professor and the staff members chose the moment to vent their wrath on us. The farewell party was boycotted by all of them except one gentleman, our Economics tutor. The class photo gave a fascinating look .Just the Principal and the teacher stood along with us. A similar incident had never happened before or after.
The bottom line was the graduation result,and it  was a sweet retort of sorts. Two University rankers, the first and the second were from amongst us. And a record number of First class graduates. I was lucky one of them! 
But the Professor did not relent he refused to endorse our conduct certificates.


To close ones eyes and wish it is dark
To wish it is dark cos of the fright to face light.
Run away in fear from dedications ethical
cos love for self is the volition of  heart and soul.

To live in fear of  reality that stares
And close ones eyes to values that must be held dear.
Fear the present and bury the future
And endure in fear of the ghost of ones past.

Oh eternal misery are such lives unto the grave.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I had a dream

I had a dream, and I was on the precipice
The rocks were keen and steep, I clutched them with my life.
Looked below and dread the abyss deep.
The piece of bread seized 'tween my tattered fingers,
because I was 'fraid to let go the crump
Lest all go hungry and vain..

As I moved down edging,
Afraid of the slide and the fall any moment to come
The ground beneath my feet
ne'er reached me soon.

I had a dream, and I saw the dead
Rotten and dried cadaver of men and women
Hung on the string like meat put to dry
Mummies, beyond reckon, and couldn’t know who they where,
and why?

I had a dream, and I saw the deluge.
Of gushing water that took me down
I gasped in the swirl, knowing not what-
the whirl held for me, down under.

I had a dream, and I saw the dawn
raise me in her arms, coddle me long
I woke up in time,
and saw it was morn.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Words stay aloof
They stay aloof and away,
Afraid to descend;
Like I fear the day to come.

And moments move relentless
into the uncertain, that is the dawn of morrow.
And I ebb with its flow
Clutching at every twig gasping with hope and only hope.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hail Mahabali

Americans celebrate Columbus Day each year. In fact that day is a national holiday in the USA.
The officialdom and the citizens of the most wonderful and greatest country in the world exults on that day in memory of a alien from Spain who began the systematic annihilation of the native Indians  who owned and lived in the ‘new world’.
It happens in the Worlds greatest country who has acquired plenipotentiary powers from the creator himself.. And that necessitates that we respect that!

This morning I read a Blog relating to the Chinese manacling of Tibet. Again it was proved that there is no certainty that the native inhabitants of the land will have any right over the land, the culture, heritage and life that they preserved and brought down the ages. The Tibetans are foreigners in the land of their birth and the land of their ancestors..
Again all including us acquiesced the usurpation because of  the might of the Chinese!

The Palestinians are aliens and dispossessed in their on land. The financial powers of the Zionists have ensured that a fable could be treated as a historical fact and used to enforce their unnatural and dishonest right over the land of the native inhabitants.
Again might have silenced the dissenters!

Back here in India the tribals and other native inhabitants are being dispossessed and set on the run by the economic and commercial might. People are dispossessed and set as gypsies and aliens in their very on land and outside.

But the difference in the treatment of the mythical king “Mahabali” was that he was fortunate to enjoy the benediction of the Gods. Even though they dispossessed him off his land, he was retired to the comforts of the Nether land.
He enjoys a better treatment than the native Indians, the Tibetans, the Palestinians, and the natives of the many tribal and other hamlets of India

On this Onam season we can only wish that we and posterity will not have to leave the land of our birth and of our ancestors. To be homeless and alien in ones own land is perhaps the cruelest of all infliction of fate.

And let us hope that the agony of dispossession will not visit generations to come.
Besides the revelry in the reminiscence of  a bygone golden  era Onam must remind us of the agony  of being outcast in our land and  or having to live as a serf or an  alien in a foreign land.
So Wishes for a Happy Onam in Mahabali’s   name to all fellow Bloggers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ain't I by your side?

I woke in angst, the clock struck half
Saw her leave the room with wearisome strides.              
I heeded the click of the door as it shut behind.

Heard her open the door outside
And her footsteps wade down the verandah.

She moved down to the bench and sat by the pond.
The dog scampered to her and lay by  her feet.
The moon up above closed her eyes behind the cloud
Lest she sees the anguish of the poor soul below!

The dog looked in askance Tell me why this angst?
For aint I by your side?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cigars & Arson


A Charlotte, NC lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire, among other things.
Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed claim against the insurance company.In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." 

The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.The lawyer sued... And WON!

(Stay with me.)

After the lawyer cashed the cheque, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!!With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine.

This is a true story and was the
 First Place 
winner in the recent Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.

Courtsey Suraj Janardhanan, Sydney

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An attempt with trepidation

"It is some time since I began to pen ( in fact type on the Lap top key board), my thoughts, feelings, emotions, rejections, revulsions, hope, apprehensions, experiences, reactions, likes, dislikes, so on and so forth. And soon enough became a blogger too.
The activity gives me immense and much comfort and an open door to exhale myself. Sometimes blogging something others may not have the patience and understanding to accept, but still gives me a way to express and talk to my alter ego, that is comforting.
This morning I sat and brought them out in words, some feelings that went through me. And with a bit of trepidation I found it was something in verses. So here they are- my first attempt in years at putting something that came to mind into verses".

Lay me to your bosom

I wait with excite, for her to wade in
Take me in her arms, lay me to her bosom.
And let the beauty of her dark countenance sooth my heart.

I close my eyes at her fondle
fall back again into peace within;
till she departs with her dark flowing hair,
gently caressing my face!

As the flecks of dawn wakes me from
the wonderland that she held me through, and the paradise;
Walking by her side, in bliss and delight
in peace and calm

I lay with yearning for her to be back
to caress me back into the wonderland
of darkness and clam.


Love is a lesser word; gratitude , too mean a word
I grope in the dark and day, and cannot find a way
to thank her for her ways.

In moments of torment and in days of tempest,
She holds by my side, fiercer than the rock in tempest.

Moments when I detest, my helpless state at its worst.
But still to tell her with an embrace be by my side
lest I slip aside into the nether world and be torn asunder.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"I wish I was wrong"

I m certain that if not all, many of us might at some point or other times, long and pleadingly wish that what we feel and fear about another person  and his or her character is not true and are misplaced.

How would it be if we are proved wrong and it is revealed that our judgment about the person was wrong, mercifully? Would not such a state be like the air jetting out from an inflated balloon? And in some other case the reality when it dawns, or say revealed will be very hurting within us.

On the contrary how would it be if our opinion or judgment of the person is proved to be true and correct? It can sometimes be a vindication that would give us comfort. And can also be the revelations of the feared judgment come true.

Which one of these situations would we like to be?

If it is the former well then we might have to spend some time introspecting ourselves and ruing our hasty and ill conceived or unwise judgment. Nevertheless if this is the case we still have time and opportunity to make amends with the victim of our intemperate judgment, and move on in life. There cannot be anything piquant and bad about a situation where we may have to retract and confess an apology. The word ‘sorry’ has the power to soothe feelings, hurt ego and pride. And I presume, being in the wrong by ourselves in judging some one and not letting our conceited mind accept its mistake is more wrong on our part.

The later situation of us being vindicated is a comforting state. Because we may have before hand done the needful to confront such an eventuality..

But how I wish at times, that it turns out that I judged wrong!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

64 Years After the Birth Pangs

I came back with C a little while ago from Ootty, to where we went on Friday last. We were in fact guests there of a couple close to us. And all of us together spent the week end at the Club Mahindra resort in Ootty.
Ideally was not a right time to wage with a free mind in leisurely activities. But we went because we decided that we needed a break from the quagmire, and to heedfully engage with some friends.
The Resort management announced yesterday evening that they planned to commemorate the I- day at 8 this morning. Though I as usual was up at 6, cared more to stay indoors and watch the prime minister at the Red Fort. I dislike rituals for ritual sake. C went out to join the motley group of weekenders at the hoisting of the national flag on the forecourt of the hotel.

I watched on TV the prime minister speak, and the various elite assembled .Faces that one would wish was not seen in public life in our country, and dignitaries who were only present in body so as to take care of the niceties of diplomatic necessities were being picked up on and on by the camera.At the end of his speech and the customary 'jai hind',the national anthem was played. And honestly I could not help my eyes moisten as it always does when the anthem is played.

I dislike and feel mocked at when I start receiving SMSs with conspicuous Independence Day wishes and congratulations. That ritual began soon enough. I love my country; Bharath mahan; Swatantriya dhina ashamsakal; Bhartah matha ki jai; the wishes were quite a few. I do not wish to deprecate the peoples intend and the mind that triggered those messages. But in general, (that counts me as well), Indians are quite adept at rituals and observing certain commemorations in letter but not in spirit. Come August 15 th we go flag-waving with patriotic fervour and by late evening on the day we forget and move on as things did not matter.
Come August 15 th we see and hear words and eloquence in praise of the motherland, and showering   encomiums on her and vaunt where we stand amongst the comity of nations. We recall the historical facts that are truly audacious and unique to India as a land of achievements in science, sociology, jurisprudence, medicine, mathematics and philosophy. The distinctly enviable status India held because of the true spirit, sacrifice, insatiable urge for knowledge and far sighted vision our fore fathers displayed centuries ago , and the glorious and magnificent intellectual and spiritual tradition of the great land are flaunted and reminded  by all and sundry. We beat our chest and yell “vande mataram” .Our hyperbole for all that was and that are because of all that our forefathers and ancestors were!

But should we not reflect, go inward and introspect what we have done, what we have given to the land we remember once a year and yet utter the salutation “vande mataram”? Do we deserve the privilege and honour to be the inheritors of heirlooms as rich and envious in tradition and culture? Do we rightfully deserve by merit of our deeds to have been born in India and thereby be known as Indians? Are we not lauding and enjoying the respect we have because what our fore fathers where?
In every country and society that have suffered the despicability of negation and war when we reach out as an Indian we are welcomed as being from the land of Mahatma, and the land that offered to the world treatise of spiritual and philosophical excellence. If an Indian go to the land of strife, Israel, he will be identified as from a country that gave safe haven for the perennially persecuted Jews of the early millennium,( the only land in the world that the Jews where free and secure was in Kerala).The learned in any Muslim country in the Middle East will recall that it was in India that the first Muslim Mosque was built not after strife, but from the munificence of the culture of the land that welcomed and imbibed foreign traditions and people,( the Cheraman Mosque in Kodungalloor , Kerala).These are just a few examples.

The introspection will have to go deeper. We who call this land our mother have raped and pillaged her out of avarice. We have dispossessed her children. If that is untrue how could we explain the threatening sphere of the Maoist actions that have now even by official acknowledgement encompassed one third of the country? The dispossessed are standing up and in a violent virulent way. A recent NGO/UN and very impartial study has identified states like Bihar and Orissa as poorer than the worst in Sub Saharan Africa. This is sixty four years after shedding what we call yoke of imperialism. India shining indeed! With the well camouflaged slight we have mauled nature and the people in many parts of this land. The Narmada Sarovar is just one of the glaring examples. We have created everlasting and festering communal divide by concocting a false alibi for/of the birth place of a mythical Hindu King and destroyed a place of worship of the Muslims. This we did while we let go hundreds of ancient Siva temples in the valley of Narmada go under water with the environmental and social consequence of the Narmada dam.

India, as per UN studies have a third of the worlds poorest. India ranks 134 in the list of 182 countries in Human development index. India’s child mortality rate is worse than Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. India accounts for one fifth of all new born deaths. Potable water is still a distant dream both in the rural areas and even in many cities. Remember, this is after almost two decades of admirable economic growth. Not surprisingly these figures are not same within all India. Regional, social disparities are high among tribal, economically neglected and communally minor segments. Even by official estimate more than twenty million female foeticide and infanticide have happened in India over the past two decades. What kinds of freedom will these neglected and marginalised sections which account for forty percent of the population see to celebrate and revel? Our position has gone down to 85 from 72 in the corruption and integrity list index.

I have touched only the few of the basics that will tell the greatness of a nation. True we have sent space craft’s to the moon, have stock pile of nuclear arsenal, express motorways and sky scrapers have dotted our cities and sky line. We have Industrial and business houses that have consistently been entrenched in ethics and principles, and business men who have used and manipulated the system to reach the top of the world.
But as Rabindarnath Tagore wrote in Gitanjali

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by.... Into ever-widening thought and action---
Into that heaven of freedom ... let my country......

Can we on this 64 th Independence Day truthfully say that we have realised or we are striving towards the realisation of the dreams contained in the above verse? Can we truthfully say that we   rightfully can claim to the rich past of this land?
If we truthfully can say “ye”, yes then we shall celebrate the Independence from imperialism.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Words

During the trip to South Africa I was immensely fortunate to visit the house ( now museum) of Nelson Mandela in the SOWETO.
And I bought a book,”In the words of Nelson Mandel”.

Some of the gems from that book are given here under.

"I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."
On Gandhi

"India  you sent us a barrister and we gave you back a 'Mahatma' ".

On Abortion

 “Women have the right to decide what they want to do with their bodies”.

On Africa

 "We cannot abuse the concept of national sovereignty to deny the rest of the Continent the right and duty to intervene when, behind those sovereign boundaries , people are being slaughtered to protect tyranny”.

 On being an African

“All of us descendants of Africa , know only too well that racism demeans the victims and dehumanizes the perpetrators”.

On Age

“What nature has decreed should not generate undue insecurity”.

On Apartheid

“With the exception of the atrocities against the Jews during the World War II there is no evil that has been condemned by the entire world, as apartheid”

On Children

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”.

On the Death sentence

“The death sentence is a reflection of the animal instinct still in human beings”.

On Determination

“As long as you have iron will you  can turn misfortune into advantage”.

 On Enemies

“I wanted South Africa to see that I loved even my enemies while I hated the system that turned us against one another”.

On His Family

“I did not in the beginning choose to place my people above my family, but in attempting to do so, I found I was prevented from fulfilling my obligations as a son, a brother, a father and a husband”.

On Freedom

“Only free men can negotiate”.

On Health

“The wounds that cannot be seen are more painful than those that can be treated by a doctor”.

On Himself

“I was made by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but  because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience”.

On Home

“I long to see the little stones on which I played as a child, the little rivers, where I swam- but I m now stationed in ….”

On Marriage

“The whole purpose of a husband and wife is that when hard times knock at the door you should be able to embrace each other”.

At His Parents Grave

“These graves mean a great deal to me, because my beloved parents are here and it arouses a great deal of emotion in me because a part of me lies buried here”.

On People

“It is the growth of character that we should learn from both pleasant and unpleasant experiences”

On General Colin Powell

“I won’t wash this hand you have shaken”.

On his retirement

“I must step down while there are one or two people who will admire me”.

On self respect

“If you are in harmony with yourself , you may meet a ion without fear, because he respects anyone with self- confidence”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Time out"

He was a gregarious fellow. Warmth was his discerning attribute. Sprightliness was his greatest quality that without any pause would connect and engulf anybody and everybody who were known to be proximal to him. He was short, 5’3, bearded and slightly dark complexioned. The pair of eyes he possessed would rove around the court keener than radar, and were bright like marbles. His vocal sound was less heard because of the ubiquitous whistle he had on his lips like a cigar. He was nimble footed on the court than the most proficient ballerina. In fact he was agile, swifter, dancing and prancing than any one of us .And he was 45 years of age.

He lived single. None of us thought of asking him if he were married or ever was, because he never was seen in loneliness and feel. One of us quipped once that his nature was so because he chose to not to mutter “I do” and be sacrificed at the altar!

He was on the basket ball court at 6 in the morning and that seemed to be a definite happening than the sun coming up in the east. The morning session of basket ball coaching used to extend till 8.30 when he blows his whistle longer and louder to tell us its “time out”. He was again back on the court at 4 in the afternoon to carry on with his basket ball coaching till sundown and sometimes even with the lights on till later into the dusk.

Once during a session we boys were divided into two groups of six and had to play amongst us, as a prelude to the selection process for the district team .He chose to play himself in one of the groups . And goodness me, he was prancing like a gazelle defter than us in our teens. The amazing and hilarious part was him climbing over the tallest guy, 6’3 and shove the ball into the basket. With his height he could never reach the stars, was the general comment we used to make. But his ingenuity was pretty good, and he had an alternate in mind for every situation where he was handicapped, and to any one of us inhibiting.

He had this unforgettable quality of sharing and giving. That he mentored a couple of kids from penurious background with whatever was necessary for their food, clothing and education. He loved each one of us, cracked sizzling jokes, played pranks which would perhaps be dearer in living rooms at our homes. Some people make meaning and sense for the planet to go around and for the world to move on with hope. And he was one such!

A quarter century went by and it was during the college reunion that we heard about him in sick bed. We understood that he continued his basket ball coaching all those years. The routine was maintained without fail. And the brake was natural when he took ill and was bed ridden.

 We went with flowers and “get well soon” cards to see him in his hospital. One of the guys remembered to carry a silver plated whistle with engraving, “to sir with love”.
He was emaciated from the illness. He still sported the beard which surprisingly had not fully turned white. His eager shining eyes seemed to be reliving the past days on the basket ball court. He smiled and held out his hand to each one of us. His eyes did display the agonizing pain he lived with. He could barely speak. And fatigue overtook his small attempts to speak.His eyes told us that he wanted to be on court with us.

With the childish glint in the eyes and with  trembling hands, he accepted the whistle from us.He smiled, his pale face showed signs of times from the past.He  held the whistle tight in his fist and muttered “TIME OUT”. We noticed his eyes wander and  head fall back slightly to the side on the pillow – he passed away. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In God's name

Those of us who have seen the cover of the Time magazine of the week will retract in horror at what man can inflict on his own kind. Let me recall the picture of the woman with a gaping hole where her nose was.   Mutilated, chopped off by the self proclaimed puritan Muslims of Afghanistan. Her crime, having born in a medieval society which is sliding faster into the black hole! The abhorrence of the act which will be displayed in her face as long as she is alive, pales into insignificance compared to the absolute silence of the Muslim intelligentsia all over the world who ostentatiously  swear by woman’s rights, and respect for the fairer sex, and quote the  holy text to that end.. It really is sheer nonsense and of no vain that the scholarly and erudite Muslims world over proclaim that such acts are un- Islamic. Does it really suffice and justify if we trumpet that we are against thieving while we stay mute to the very act of thieving? Such silence and tacit acquiescence is similar to the Hindus turning blind eye to the practise of self immolation on the funeral pyre -‘sati’.

I have been following   articles and stories in various magazines and The Hindu on the French ban on the burqa – the full facial veil for women. And there was a programme on the BBC wherein quite a few young Muslim men and women where speaking on the ban and allied topics. Ironically even many of those young and educated women on that show swore by their Islamic identity- fair enough,but  for which they considered the veil as synonym and indispensable. How would it be if Hindu women swear by their right to perform ‘sati’i and claim that if they are forbidden it is infringement on their inalienable religious rights? And also claim that performing sati is bringing out their religious identity and that it is display of piety etc? I do not now intent to dwell on the merits and otherwise of the French legislation against the facial veil. That is a different matter and prerogative of the law makers of that country.

People quote scriptures to suit their end. The devil does that often too.

And there are people every where who  condone and clamour for such archaic and antediluvian practises.


I was once at a dinner elsewhere with a German lady. She was client of mine, a divorcee and now in a live in relationship with a man who himself was divorced and living with his two children. I remember it was my birthday and C had called her a few times to tell her and also remind her that.

To give me a pleasant surprise she kept C’s call a secret of sorts and took me to a restaurant in the country side. I did not tell her about the birthday either. I was quite surprised when the cake with lit candles was brought to our table by the steward.

In course of the conversation and dinner she shot me the question, “how do you manage to live with the same person for long; see the same face both at the office and back at home,. isn’t it terribly monotonous, boring”? I could only smile and perhaps laugh the question away. But for her that was a pertinent question and wonder.

Did the strange habitation happen because I was born to Indian parents and was brought up and lived in this country? Definitely so! Though social cohabitation habits have changed and are also fast getting amended here as well. Virulent western life styles and culture besides assertion of women, perhaps may be the reasons for this change happening .

“When a man has more than one wife, the relationship is termed ‘polygamy’ and when a woman has more than one husband it is termed ‘polyandry’. But the habitation the German fruauline was perplexed about was not polygamy or polyandry but why a marriage does not breakdown  out of being ‘ill’ from seeing the same face and of long time, and long term proximity. And also either or both wandering off to different and newer pastures.

If I told her that boredom and contempt out of proximity, or even mutual necessity are not in vogue she will not believe my eloquence. I still wonder if I will ever find a logical answer to her question whereby she would be convinced and also understand, ‘why’?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday noon

Very often when we do something with intent to comfort or assist someone, ironically we end up facing retribution and scorn. This curious natural law can be seen all across the spectrum of social life, trivial or substantial.

Our Samaria intent is taken for opportunism, selfishness, arrogance and impertinence. The intent is interpreted as malicious. The pain and or effort we put in, howsoever piddling  is not noticed let alone appreciated The only comfort to the victim in this case is to perhaps stick to the advice in the Gita
“karmanye vadhikarasthe,
ma bhaleshu kadhachan”'

But how many of us would like to sit back and apply the verses of the Gita in real life? We end up wishing that we never endeavoured on any act of Good Samaritanship.

Severe rejections of good intent are many if they were to be mentioned. So let me note a little incident that made me feel like an arsehole. Yesterday noon I was driving back from town. I was reaching a quite busy intersection. That was when I noticed this middle- aged , couple, and they were half way across the road. The man was pushing his motor cycle and his spouse was in tow. He could not go back as there were speeding vehicles on the side, behind. I spotted his predicament and braked my car and waited a few feet from those folks, so that they could move on and reach the safety of the kerb. The man suddenly developed a furious expression and started gesticulating at me. He waved his hand at directions to convey that there was enough space for my car to go and why the hell did I have to brake and want to panic him. And not let him cross the road. I waved my hand and tried to tell him that I braked and stopped so that he can get to the other side and not be stranded precariously in the middle where traffic is zooming unmindfully and dangerously. He did finally cross the road, but kept the expression of fury and indiganance.
I watched him reach the kerb and I moved on..

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Escapism & Love for Self.

We term certain conduct of people as escapism. This trait or behaviour is in born and practised by many.The trait can also be defined as a way of redirecting ones attention on things pleasant and savouring, on the contrary to the dire realities of the everyday life. The quality can be healthy and assisting. But in extreme forms can be detrimental too to one.

Now, but how should we discuss about people who escape closing their eyes to reality, principles, ethics and duty? These people are not refocusing their attention to pleasant things but are being selfish and forcing themselves to make believe that the fact and the problem don’t exist.

The latter group are practising the art of escapism because of their selfish character. For them call of duty, ethics, morality and love for fellow beings are not at all in their priority list. It is purely self interest that life is all about. Such people identify every aspect of human behaviour with the bench mark of commercial gain and advancement. So they see nothing, hear nothing and enquire about nothing. That is the surest way to avoid confronting realities which they are naturally duty bound to tackle.

I remember a story I read somewhere. The gist is – a highly successful career woman forfeits her career to take care of her grievously ill husband. A friend of hers while on a social call on her commented,’gracious, how unselfish you are to make such a sacrifice’. The woman was rightly and naturally incensed. She fumed and told the friend,’your remark is insulting. I love my husband and this is the most selfish thing I have ever done and ever will’.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Fountain Pen

Lewis Watterman patented the first workable fountain pen in 1884. However writing instruments designed to carry their own supply of ink had existed for over one hundred years before Waterman's patent. John Scheffer received a British patent in 1819 for his half quill, half metal pen that he tried to put into mass manufacture. And John Jacob Parker patented the first self-filling fountain pen in 1831. However, early fountain pen models were plagued by ink spills and other failures that left them impractical.

Writing instrument-Styli used in the 13 th century

On June 1 st 1969, my mother presented me with my first fountain pen – a beautiful Parker! Her father gave her the beautiful piece while she was into high school. She took care of it and passed it on to me .I was indeed thrilled going to school and begin writing with ink filled pen. I ostensibly displayed it on my shirt breast pocket. But when I reached home after school on that fateful day, the pen was gone and only the cap remained stuck in my pocket. How and what came about, I could not explain. And the sheer carelessness was severely reprimanded by my mother. She was distraught and furious. I then wondered why she must fume and curse me for the loss of a pen, though I did feel remorse and guilt inside. It took growing up and many years of life to fathom the depth and value of a seemingly trivial instrument as the fountain pen, and her pain in my losing it.

Fountain pens where akin to signature. It told about the person. The longer a fountain pen stayed with a person, closer the bond. People of the past seldom offered their fountain pen to another to use or even to pen signature. It was possessed and cared like ones spouse. And I recall that it was impolite to ask or borrow it from its owner.

When my grandfather used to leave home he had just a few things to carry or take with him. His glasses, his watch his money purse and his fountain pen beside his grandfather umbrella,
 Lap tops, calculators, Blackberry, mobile phones, designer sun glasses, wallet stacked with credit cards and( may be) a ball point pen have now replaced the Spartan things people of the past had on their person.

Fountain pens have had their death knell chimed many years ago. The advent of ball pens and writing gadgets that are disposed after a single use have completely eclipsed or vanquished the stately fountain pen of lore.

The Parkers. Schefers ,Swans, the Wattermans, Mont Blancs and everyone have found to their economic advantage that disposable pens are what would thrive in place of the ink filled fountain pens.
And in so deciding to change the taste of men for commercial gains,it is man who has lost his signature hold on the instrument that could at one time in the past identify its owner because the fountain pen carried his soul along with the ink.