Friday, May 15, 2015

'Hey Joe'

Someone said that life is not happening to you, but is responding to you.

When you meet the old fellow (sic) you could hardly relate that to him, though the phrase ‘old fellow’ is a misnomer here in his case, though he is eighty three. Talking to him, listening to him, watching him relish the third single malt (and nothing more than that) made me feel growing young- sort of aging backwards. At least for the short while he spent with us! After he was gone I began to think of the time spent with him, not many people would challenge you without virtually doing so to take personal responsibility for all that is wrong in your life and everything that is inordinate and derailed in the world. Without saying he conveys the truism that the world is that we create for us individually.

Joe as he is called, perhaps that is a moniker, is a  sprightly  man who would pass off to be in his teens, if his bald-pated  head and furrowed skin doesn’t tell a different story.
I met him some years ago and spent a few minutes with him. His extraordinariness as a person of gaiety touched me then too. I have been since then hearing of him from a friend who introduced me to Joe.

Joe lived most part of his adult and student life elsewhere in India, New Delhi and Kashmir being the highlights, I gather. As a young man he represented the Delhi Ranji trophy team in the 1940’s. He reminisced the times when Pataudi ( Sr) was frequent at the nets and the elite social company he kept , mostly flocked by memsahibs. He smiled mischievously while narrating the social high profile life in Lutyen’s Delhi in the 1940’s. He rubbed shoulder with Nehru and shook hands with Lord Mountbatten. His prized possession is the bloodied soil from the spot where Gandhi was shot and killed.

Joe’s father was employed up in north and that took him places, then his own job with a petroleum company made him a Mallu in love with the diversity of India and its varying geographical locations.
I can well presume that he has had his share of adversities personal and external.  While sitting with him I wondered if the aura of optimism and sheer plank of avidity that he stands upon will rub on me and the rest who often find it difficult to be even half alive, let alone to be exuberant and radiating elan vital when confronted even by the shallow irritancy of quotidian life. Robert Prigg says in his book Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “Is it hard?”  “Not if you have the right attitudes”. 

I asked him while he was helping himself with dessert after a good dinner of chicken byriani and chicken grill if he was a believer- if besides the 18 hole game of golf that he ventures to play at early dawn three times  every week, going to church was in his agenda. His reply was a wave of his hand – like you keep away an unwelcome irritant fly and slightly contorting his face he said sternly,"No”. He was not deluded, I found and that must also be the reason for his sprightly mind.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Sophist

How many of us have taken note of the pernicious impact discourses of specious men like ZakhirNaik, Benny Hinn, who deftly practices successfully the art of malarkey and skullduggery? Indeed, I have not ignored the fact that there is now a spurt in con artists in ochre grab and ably aided by Hindutva outfits. However now I’m not intending to pen about all men of such kind. Let me stick with this self-confessed “student of comparative religious studies” (as he himself defines him) ZakhirNaik.

Even if one has distaste and detests a person or his philosophy, it is only civil and decent that one acknowledges the man’s positives. In the case of Zakhir Naik what is starkly outstanding in the vermin of the utter malarkey and lies he preaches is the amazing rote learning he has had. He can quote extempore from various texts and scriptures, mention the verse and chapter without batting an eyelid. That probably bowls over half the gullible who drool astonished and awed like mongrels on a fool moon night, at his discourse and what not. I wonder if someone ever tried to check the veracity of his blind quotes.

If one watch the YouTube clips of some of his liberally attended meetings one can see through the frailty of his contentions and how he uses the power of the number of the virtually blind and gullible folks who stand by him to brow beat any honest and skeptical questioner.

In one of the video I happened to see a young man from California ask Zakhir Naik a couple of questions. The first query was why this omnipotent God ( to read as Allah, here)who created the sky, heaven and the earth with its multitude of living forms, not create man with the power to do only what is right and only what God proposes. Why has this God not created man minus the loathly and ugly side that is the only reason for all the strife and agony? The second question was why God is a sadist, who enjoys banishing human beings to eternal hell, when he, as the creator would have the power to mould his creation without vices.

Zakhir Naik for the next twenty odd minutes went about quibbling, talking hocus-pocus and mumbo jumbo while two menacing looking men positioned on either side of the questioner. He chided the man for his doubts and went about without airing one sentence to substantiate his argument that the God of Islam is always right. Typical of the mindset that we see among fanatics and bigots of all faith! He ends his reply with the question and suggestive answer- “well now do you agree to embrace Islam and become a Muslim?

He goes on to challenge the Christian world to prove that Jesus was born on December 25. What he conveniently forgets is that while there is no historical proof and empirical claim to prove or disprove that, there is no proof either to his claims and that the mumbo jumbo he quotes as facts from an ancient time when tribes were engaged in mindless and internecine killings were providential. The crux of his argument is that only the “book” that he quotes is true and nothing else is.

An atheist, an agnostic and or a person who enquires before jumping on to a wagon of fantasy, no man can sit back and swallow the bunkum that this person reels out. One has to be devoid of common sense and the basic faculty to think if he or she should go gaga over Zakhir Naik. Besides, it is the veiled vitriol and falsehood that he sautés his speeches that makes you retch while his audience are rapturous in approval. No wonder that the British Government after the worst pliability that it showed in case of the mad Ayatollah’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie denied Zakhir Naik visa to enter UK.
It is a pity that this sub continent known for its ancient assemblage of intelligent and sagacious minds should cater and live with such myopic minded and egregious philosophy that is spawned from all direction by men like Zakhir Naik. The inane inclination to twist history, paint myths and fairy tales as facts and historical happenings, distort the past, rubbish and spew vermin on other school of thought and people is ominously increasing in today’s society.

Look at one fantastic argument or rather holy statement of Zakhir  Naik.  To the person who threw the question he said that God created us from the loins of Adam and Eve. While he created us he asked us if we would want to live like the exalted group- the angels. It was Man, he said, who wanted to live in the world possessing the evil qualities. So it was not God who made us with evilness. Mumbo Jumbo is an inept word to describe this fantastic theory. I do not remember someone asking me while I was in the womb or immediately out of it if I wanted to be human or an angel. Zakhir Naik says that man cannot remember such a situation where God gave him a choice, because God erased that instance from our memory and we would be seeing that in replay only on the Day of Judgment. Abracadabra man!
There are certain matters in Christianity that he agrees with and is strangely comfortable with. He argues that the Immaculate Conception and virgin birth of Jesus is true. (He however sees Jesus far below the exalted position he gives to Mohammed). He gives a scientific reasoning to endorse conception without male female intervention. For this he takes out the example of certain species of butterflies and some unicellular creature such as amoeba. He latches on to parthenogenesis to establish that the Immaculate Conception and virgin birth of Jesus “could” have happened.
Any freshman in biology class would explain what parthenogenesis is and would call an argument such as that of Zakhir Naik naïve and silly. For parthenogenesis cannot happen in higher mammals or living beings such as Man.

To narrate more about the fantastic stories of Zakhir Naik is to belittle the genre of old woman’s tales and bed time stories we all have relished. Zakhir Naik must now be feeling the heat with an invigorated Sangh and with its political party in power- more wonderful stories of long distance aircrafts, plastic surgery, of transplanting of the head from the shoulders, of nuclear reactors in ancient India are abound. Certainly these claims might pale a little the fantasies Zakhir Naik narrates quoting his holy book.

When fools are abound, when people miserably ache and seek for magic to lighten up the burden and mundanity of their lives, such bigotry and sophistry thrive in the guise of spiritualism, promise of salvation ,passport to paradise and shameless evangelism. Those of us who show the gumption to stand on our feet and look life in the face and not wait for magic and sorcery to bail us out, can either fret and fume, write blogs and post defiant statements on the Facebook or Twitter and continue with our little lives, hoping that in the frenzied scramble towards paradise these folks would not deny us peace here and not let us keep our little lives to ourself.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Where the Rain is Born

Anton Chekov’s short story “The Bet” always reminds me of the awe that one can feel reading books, the powerful sway that books can have upon the reader. But then over the years I also realised from experiencing people who also read books that, “books are mirrors you only see in them what is already inside you”.

Let me go back to the story before I reach to narrate the reason for the above statement.                       During an evening of revelry a wealthy Banker and his guests debate the subject of capital punishment  While the Banker asserted that capital punishment was preferable to solitary confinement that kills the prisoner gradually, a young lawyer states that he would prefer to be alive and a life time of imprisonment than be killed. To this the Banker mocks that the young fellow would not spend five years in confinement and he was willing to pay him 2 million if he would spend 15 years in solitary confinement, no daylight , no human contact. They  enter into a wager.
An almost uneventful first year went by with the young lawyer ordering wine, cigars, good food and superficially exciting light novels and played his musical instruments.  The second year was often dotted with bouts of wailing, angry monologues and he drank a lot. From the third year, saw the young lawyer dropping notes for books- classics, philosophies, travelogues, medicine, religion, chemistry, languages and so on. As years went by the sound from inside the prison was barely heard. There were only notes for more books.

As the fifteenth year approached its end the Banker was truly getting nervous at the prospect of having to pay the lawyer as agreed in the wager. Plowed down by worry and deceitful, the Banker plots to kill the young man. Sneaking into the prison he found an emaciated figure stooped in a chair and oblivious of his entry. He found a letter written thus-“For fifteen years I have been intently studying earthly life. It is true I have not seen the earth nor men, but in your books I have drunk fragrant wine, I have sung songs, I have hunted stags and wild boars in the forests, have loved women…beauties as earthreal as clouds, created by the magic of your poets geniuses, have visited me at night and have whispered in my ears and wonderful tales have set my brain in a whirl. In your books I have climbed to the peaks of Elburz and Mont Blanc and from there I have seen the sun rise and watched it at evening flood the sky, the ocean and the mountain – tops with gold crimson. I have watched from there lightning flash over my head and cleaving the storm clouds. I have seen green forests, fields, rivers, lakes, towns. I have heard the singing of the sirens and the strains of the shepherds’ pipes; I have touched the wings of comely devils that flew down to converse with me of God… In your books I have flung myself into bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religion, and conquered whole kingdoms….

Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unrestfulness thought man has created in the ages is compressed into small compass in my brain. I know that I’m wiser than all of you.
I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory and deceptive, like mirage. You may be proud, wise and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe. You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth and hideousness for beauty. I don’t want to understand you.

To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two million of which I once dreamed as of Paradise and which I now despise. To deprive myself the right of money I shall go out from here five hours before the time fixed and so break the compact…”

The distraught Banker limped back to his house after reading the letter. The next morning the jail keeper announces that late at night he saw a shadow of a man wriggle out through the window, scale the high walls and vanish into the misty night.

Surely no further explanation is needed here of the outcome.

Now what would you say about folks who “trivalises” books, who do not value books? But who vainly reads them or impresses upon others that they read them? Who audaciously walks away with a book from your collection even without informing you and when you repeatedly over days remind that care should be taken to return, ferally glares at you that the book is lost and could not be found?                                                                                                                                          “Well if you fret much about a mere book, I can pay for it or buy you a new one.” The last statement is a swipe at your face and profanation to books.
When one sits back and analyses this particular incident that happened, what one could understand is that,“books are mirrors you only see in them what is already inside you”.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Pious Face of India

                                             The Delhi Gang Rapist

A month ago one impertinent, intemperate cantankerous  politician –a belligerent Marxist was sent to serve a prison term by the Supreme Court for calling the Judges a pack of fools. Now, looking at the restraint a Judge of a Delhi court has delivered against the airing of the BBC documentary on the “Delhi rapist interview”, terming that the telecast or publication of the interview will be detrimental to law and order, I ‘m obliged to endorse the view , after all the comment about the Courts was right.

Now, what did this reprehensible sexual assaulter say to the interviewer? He said that the victim has to be blamed for her torture and death and that if she had not resisted the rape she would not have been physically tortured but left to survive after gang raping her to the content of their perverted libido. Further it is reported that he said, they would only have assaulted the male companion leaving the girl after the rape. This statement and perhaps the fear of far worse outrageous comments from a remorseless criminal must have prompted the hue and cry against the telecast of the interview and the Government’s decision to ban it. But worse still must be the real reason to restrain the telecast or publication of the interview that would reveal a pitiless and incorrigible male psyche- the infamous male misogynism.

We must recall that many of the same politicians, and religious heads who display anger now over the interview were the ones who expressed that it is women who attract rape and women who go out at night are libertines and  deserve to be sexually assaulted etc. A bishop even termed rape (in another case of rape some months ago) as God’s instrument to test the will of the victim and it should be accepted with all grace.A Muslim leader in Kerala called for marrying girls by the age of fourteen as longer they remain unmarried more are their chances of walking the immoral way.

When such men cry foul and wail that they and the country will be offended if an interview with an unregenerate despicable mind is to be telecast, it oozes vulgarly of hypocrisy and falsehood. The interview I’m sure will reveal far more outrageous side of the rapist and generally that indeed being subsumed in a male psyche, will make apprehensive and nervy many male chauvinistic and misogynistic men. It is the backlash and the anger that it would create in the vast sections of the society and mostly among women, what rattles these male chauvinistic ogres.

The lawyer of the assailants A.P.Singh said this after the verdict sentencing the criminals to death“…..if my daughter was having premarital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend, I would  take her to the farm house and with all onlookers around , douse her with petrol and burn her alive . I would not have let this situation happen. All parents should adopt such an attitude.” A perfect specimen of the Indian male psyche.

India is a country, were value of life is selective depending upon wealth and trappings of power. This is a country were cows are sacred than the well being of women. This is the country whose government takes the role arbitrarily of a dietitian and decides what people should and must not eat. This is a country where disrobing of Draupadi is not a scene from a legendary mythical treatise- it happens daily and often have the sanction of the male dominated society. This is a country where mythical Ravana is seen as a villain though he did not even once lift as much a finger to violate Sita whom he held captive in his abode; while Rama who was insolent and chauvinistic to send Sita through Agni to purify and ensure her chastity, who later succumbing to the innuendos of a plebian about Sita’s virtue banished her and his twin sons to the wilderness of the forest, is considered a God and an ancient Mosque is razed down to build a temple atop for him. We let women be treated as commodities wrapped inside the black shades of burkha and jihabs, we dictated by archaic religious diktats, deny basic sustenance and rights to women . We ignore the hearts and souls entrapped inside the black fabric drenched with sudate and nauseating with its bacterial odour.

Well these things are not new and the products of western influence or the age of computer and iPad or iPhones. The wretched side existed ,only that such heinous aspects began  invading  our living rooms thanks to the explosion of television and the voyeuristic TRP crazed television channels. Look at the huge mob and crowd that flock to police stations and courts, drooling, their dark brownish face contorted in glee and sleazy pleasure whenever a woman -a rape victim, a sex worker or a female girl – the victim of abuse is produced! They would all in their pious Indian minds gang rape the hapless victim many times over.
What do these tell?                  

Are we trying to wish away the loathsomeness in our minds and hearts by banning such revealing journalistic work? Are we afraid of being confronted by our alter ego?
Instead of understanding how despicable the male psyche works, instead of understanding the incorrigible nature of the rapist, instead of acknowledging that a greater social scourge is subsumed in our midst, we stupidly and hypocritically cry offense; that we will not let the grand design to tarnish India’s image succeed by airing the interview; in fact  naively by blaming a sinister plot to undermine India, we exhibit ourselves as a country of thugs, rapists, misogynists and buffoons.
Indeed we are adept at banning, at proscribing. For, we are afraid of facts, of reality, of light, we are afraid of our own self, our face. It hounds us. Doesn't it?

It is not the BBC documentary or the interview with the rapist that we are afraid of, that rattle us. It is us we are afraid of- our reflection.
We are just not pious and we cannot make believe we are.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The War Cry

        “Mark you this, Bassanio,
          The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
          An evil soul producing holy witness
          Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
         A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
        O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!” 
          So says Antonio in Merchant of Venice.

This was precisely why I’m sure most of those including myself reacted with consternation at the demand that Baghwad Gita be made a national book.
The other day a friend chastised me that I talk nonsense and write bunkum in my blog embellished with grandioseness. He was referring to my general anathema for the rightwing religious agenda and my outspokenness. He termed my assertions and opinion as frivolous and naive. Criticisms are welcome only that they have to be  sauted with reasoning. 

He, for that matter, though a semi liberal and not votary of the Sangh or the right wing politics, was recently enamoured by a more chastened and former Chinmaya Mission spiritual ascetic who excels in discourses from the Gita. I’m sure  that my friend's  awareness and knowledge  of the Gita is as plebeian as mine and quite certainly he may not have read even the Penguin publication of Juan Mascaro’s Gita that is still held as the most authentic English translation of Gita addressing ordinary and less competent people that certainly includes me and he.
The argument the gentleman friend based his endorsement that Gita be made a national text are
   a-     Gita is all encompassing and can be related to all race, creed, and origin of human beings
b       b-     Because of its universal essence it should be made a national book.
c      c -      It is not a Hindu religious text; it has nothing perse about religion
d      d-     The message of the Gita is eternally relevant.

Now, I being a lay person and my knowledge was always sourced from the writings and lectures of intelligent and scholarly minds and as always the thinking mind was set rolling by the works of elitist and dispassionate writers and historians.

Let me put forth why I intend to disagree with the gentleman friend on the most vital argument that the Gita be elevated as a national book, though at the same time acknowledging  the wisdom of the Gita as much as in many other books that are repositories of wisdom

Can we disagree with the statement that the Gita is a war cry and the war mentioned in the Gita is an allegory? Will the votaries who want it elevated to national status agree to see it so and not as the iconic text of  of Hinduism?   Perhaps Machiavelli too may have borrowed from the spirit of Gita in his “Prince”. The reasoning that the Gita is universal in appeal and is the panacea to all the tiresome agony of human existence is similar to the oft stated catch phrase coming out from pulpits of Muslim and Christian places of worship that the Koran and the Bible is the lone means to salvation.

In the context of Bhagawad Gita historians like Romilla Thappar (who is persona non grata to the right wing) suggests , “…..that some 700 verses of the Gita were a later addition to the primary text, The Mahabratha. The epics had originally been secular and had to be revised by the Brahamans with a view to using them as religious literature…….”.The idea of interpolation was provided by Wendy Doniger (again, a pariah for the right wing). She suggests that the Gita was written around 100 CE, while the epic Mahabharata was dated about 300 BCE and 300 CE, concluding that Veda Vyas who authored Mahabharata did not write the Gita. In sum Bhagawad Gita is the wisdom of the Upanishads and the Vedas. To now say that Gita is not a religious text is erroneous.

Forcing people of other faith to study Gita at a time when religion is not a positive identity but a tool in the hands of negative, parochial, divisive forces will bring a backlash that will grow ominously. The rightwing as we have today are certainly not the ones to be trusted with a Gita . For as the bard himself said “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose”.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Of Karma , Maya & the Intangible Pain.

A couple of days ago an article written by Devdutt Pattnaik appeared in The Hindu.                          I’m at loss for comprehension after reading that article titled “In Maya, the Killer & the Killed”. What was the author trying to convey?  He said much and ended saying nothing.

The author blamed terror attacks on the karma of the terrorised- the victims. He further went on to say      that the emotional violence committed by Charlie Hebdo- the intangible pain their journalism caused to Muslims was what triggered the violent act and the emotional   pain is far more grave and agonising than physical pain or violent retaliation. He quotes an anecdote from the Mahabratha. In Indraprastha royals and princes are assembled in the court of Yudishtira for his coronation, when Shishupala in his eagerness to settle an old score publicly abuses Krishna. After a long forbearance and letting Shishupala indulge in his abusive soliloquy, Krishna decides that he had enough of the man’s invectives and let lose his divine Chakra that decapitates the insolent and disgraceful Sishupala. Here the reader must reach his own conclusion. Or is it that my comprehension is puerile?

Now, the plot is well created with this allegory a commendable prescience. The anecdote can be of quoted by Hindutva prudes to unleash their brand of denouement. Recall the  treatment  meted out to M.F.Hussain, to Narendra Dablokar ( who was shot and killed allegedly by Hindutva goons for critcising the superstitious and inimical customs and practsies ), the fate of Deepa Mehta’s movie  “Fire” and lately of the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. The same yardstick, with which Devudutt Pattnaik would want us to understand the allegory of Shishupala, will be used with different names and periods by beguilers of various faiths. The same phrase, ”hurt sentiments” was used to hound Salman Rushdie and Tasleema Nasreen, the murderous attack on the Kerala professor Joseph by Muslim fanatics, the many government sponsored murders in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy, the hoary cry against the adaptation of Nicholas Kazhanztika’s “Last Temptation of Christ” by a thespian group in Kerala and now the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Today’s newspaper splashes the RSS   supremo Mohan Bagwat’s statement in the course of his speech to his cadre that India must be made a “Hindu Rashtra”. True to the trope and the fascist philosophy of the Sangh he also alluded to some statement of Rabindranath Tagore to substantiate and garnish relevance to his demand.

Let me take up a statement in the article Of Devdutt Pattnaik. “Will there be a march where people identify themselves with Charlie’s killers? Is that allowed? Who are the killers? Muslims, bad- Muslims, Mad- Muslims, un-Islamic Muslims? The editorials are undecided, as in the attack in Peshawar on school children…. .”  The statement, I will say is deficient and outright naïve, to put it politely.  Who is undecided about the macabre acts in Peshawar? Not the civilised world. Not the conscientious among Pakistanis and Muslims. Not the satanic non-Muslim world. Then, who? Every righteous man and woman bled hearing the gory tale and seeing the visuals on media.

It will be cruelness of abysmal proportion to say the Peshawar carnage was the karma of the, innocent children mowed down by the Taliban.  To say that the Taliban did that because of the intangible pain they felt when the Pak military did what any modern democratic institution in the  civilised world should do, go after fascists and terrorists who are wreaking havoc on the civil society. It was plain and outright barbaric madness. What was the intangible pain the Taliban felt that they had to shoot the teen aged girl Malala in the head and leave her bleeding to die? Was it her karma that she wanted to study, to go to school? The mayhem Islamic terrorist under the banner “Boko Haram”   inflicts on helpless people is not borne out of tangible or intangible scars Boko Haram may have had to bear. The 200 girls abducted months ago by the savages and possibly used as sex slaves or killed after raping them have not any tangible karma behind them to bear the misfortune that befell them. What  bizarre theory is Devdutt Pattnaik endevaouring to convey?

  When it comes to matters of bigotry, fanaticism and blinded faith there are no boundaries and the demon has the same face, be it in Peshawar, Paris, or Timbuktu- unwillingness and refusal to recogonise and respect differences of opinion, and varied cultural ethos; intolerance and bigotry.
Confusing the whole issue of the Paris attack allegedly provoked by lawful French journalistic work is missing the wood for the trees. Raising impertinent questions he is only helping to confuse and deflect from the larger aspect and perspective terror has brought to the forefront-the question of journalistic expression & rights and the imbecility of a hypersensitive impetuous minds. Let us take the example of the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. This is the classic case of political one-upmanship, mass intolerance and whipping of frenzy with the oft quoted phrase, “hurt sentiments”. The local Administration stands culpable and responsible for Perumal Morgan’s literary suicide. To see mass intolerance and herd instinct as reflections of hurt sentiment is naïve. Take the question of Devadasi. The Hindus will be crying foul if someone writes about this abhorrent practice, which in spite of the Supreme Court ruling thrives in pockets, aided and abetted by caste Hindus.  William Darlymple dealt deftly with the subject in his book “Nine Lives”. It is surprising that the Hindutva cronies led by Togadias and Deendayal Batras have not noticed that yet.  If someone criticises the period in ancient India and Hindu history when “sati” – the bride burning in funeral pyre of her husband was a social custom, will he or she be causing intangible pain to the faithful?

To say emotional pain is ignored for physical violence is untrue. Look, even courts take cognisance of mental; trauma and pain .A physical assault of rape is not judged  merely by the act of penetration alone, and is deemed to be committed if the victim is truamatised and hounded emotionally by the perpetrator. Leaving these matters aside and the deflections created by abracadabra of “Maya and Karma”, we have to understand that certain sections of society refuse to shed the medieval mindset and are paranoid at the sign of questions and evidences rubbishing archaic notions and claims. The problem is the temperament of the dark ages that refuses to leave – the temperament that binds and cloisters itself in bigotry and obscurantism.

In Kerala there is an ancient art form called “Chakkiar Koothu”. The performer donned in colourful costumes and paint comes on stage and narrates a story. He might at random pick even the King or the peasant from the audience and spin a satirical tale, mocking their idiosyncrasies. The King is not offended let alone the commoner. The musical art form of “Ottam Thulla” was born out of such a mockery by a Chakkiar of his protégé or help.

Questions have to be asked, however unpleasant we need to confront them and arrive at plausible answers. It could be an answer that might chafe us and threaten the cocoon, the comfort zone we built around, it might provoke. But if the end result is a better understanding and a new revelation, the casting aside of darkness, what we until then erred for light- wouldn't that help much?

It seems the so called religious faithful and puritans (sic) have asserted through the article of Devdutt Pattnaik that when it comes to protecting the outlandish and archaic religious beliefs and practices, the prelates, the evangelists, the Imams, the Mullahs and the Hindutva brigade are all brothers in arms and of the same womb.

Why is a caricature offensive? Why should it be seen so? In fact caricature is used to convey a dissenting message a different perspective. Isn’t it? BTW did God arise and tell one of these faithful that he (certainly can’t be she because aren't women inferior?), that he is pained and outraged by questions and criticisms?

(Dr Devdutt Pattnaik is a physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist and author whose focus largely are on areas of myth and mythology besides management. He has written number of books on Hindu mythology.( Wikiepedia)).

Friday, January 9, 2015


It was quite a long time since we four got together. It also seems in all likelihood that such coming together will be a rarity in the days ahead. I must admit that the physical distance between us is not felt only because of the social media and other applications that have literally usurped physical intimacy and tactile affection. Face book, Whatsapp and the ubiquitous mobile phones make one unaware of the physical distance; emotions have become less important these days. As parent I and C might soon get used to the feeling that though the children are far out somewhere on the planet, pleasantries on the Skype, on the Whatsapp would undo at least to  some extent, the feeling of despondency and loneliness that many vouch is the companion and paramour in twilight days.

While sitting in that fascinating pub in Bangalore that pulsated with young men and women besides a few grey haired like me and C, I wondered briefly, reflectively about my teen and youth. Times have changed or are it that as parents we are different? I guess the later is truer. I felt remorse about a stifling childhood and growing up years. I took care to not to be walloped in self pity and drank the Bavarian beer that was served.

The best thing parents can do for the children  besides ensuring a good education and grooming, is to let them walk free into their lives. How true are the words that “to love is to let fly free, let go”!  I hate to be trapped by conventions and stereotyping and would not want them to be shackled either. The discerning ability of choosing right over wrong is ammunition and confidence enough to go forward. I guess they have that in them.
A friend while in conversation with me yesterday told me that he was thinking of groom hunting for his daughter who would be coming to the country on vacation in the coming summer. I wondered why and asked him why he would not seek her opinion; ask her if she is in that frame of mind. Parents tend to follow conventions and stereotyping. Life has all now become too familiar and too predetermined for comfort. Is marriage and procreation the acme in human life that human beings must aspire for?

An NRI friend from childhood was here a few months ago and over dinner which they graciously fed me with the lady stated loudly, “I’m certain you and C must have by now collected all the gold one possibly could”. I knew instantly what she was alluding to and that she wanted it out of my mouth. I feigned innocence and with a wry smile, said. “What? Why must we collect gold like bounty hunters?”                                                                                                                                             “You know for certain. Don’t you? R is twenty one and soon you would be thinking of marrying her away.” She said.

I briefly told her that we have no fascination for gold nor have we ever gone to bed without supper and hungry saving gold. Besides though we would strongly advise the children to ensure a family if they were to have children, these matters are to be left to them than as parents we lord over their lives even after they have flown. We have not chosen their professions either .It was their individual choice.

I hope, if the kids amble into this Blog they would be reminded,”do what you folks love to do than let ye be shackled by what others want of you”. I guess the kids have grown understanding that. Hope.