Death, a journey in Peace?

Let the departed soul have final journey in peace!

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Friends, you will have to pardon me! This is a major modification of a blog I had published four years back. This is a very important subject for me, hence I want to share my thoughts with you again; I have gained more insights on the subject in last four years. I have a new title ending with question mark; why the question mark you will ask me! In the matters like rituals, I think like a trained engineer, always challenging the hypothesis, if I am not convinced! When we communicate in writing about death, we say “Rest in Peace”! Ok, I am a non believer, but still I will go with the theory, that after death the soul goes on its journey! But do we allow the soul peace it deserves?

We have one life and our aim should be to pass through the life’s journey in such a way that we are truthful, respectful, gentle and have empathy for others. How do we give respect to others? Why do we respect others? Whom should we respect? These are the questions that came to my mind when a friend of ours died. The departed soul was a respected professional, gentle, truthful and always had empathy for others. Such a person should have been reciprocated by the same thoughts and deeds by others after he departed. We should have same philosophy in life and death, irrespective of how others are and how they behave with you.

This person was a “non-believer”. His views, about the “after death” were very clear as he had already told his first family in clear terms, about not performing “any” religious stuff after his death. After his death, things began well, with no religious stuff at the time of cremation. Respecting his views, family followed his wishes, they respected him. Though it was very late at night it was decided to wait for one of his siblings, who was staying far, to reach for the cremation. This was also I am sure must be one of his wishes.

I want to tell you my observations of events, at the time of his funeral. I have not spoken to anyone from his close family and I am just writing the thoughts that come to my mind. Our friend lived his life in a small town and was a respected professional. When his body was being taken from home to the hearse, some religious stuff was performed by his neighbors. His immediate family almost lost control over the situation; family became spectators. So much for peace of mind!

But let us not forget and look at the other side. Some people and their families believe totally in rituals. Others should give respect to their feelings. Recently, I attended death rituals of someone close to me. Their family totally believes in rituals and on 13th day, there was a full blown religious stuff. Next day one of the siblings said to me, “You had to sit through a lot of things, in which you don’t believe in.” I said with humility, “please don’t embarrass me; your family believes in these things so it was my duty and wish to participate in everything, to respect the departed soul on final journey”.

In Hinduism, after death religious functions are held after a certain number of days based on age old traditions. In this case, since the person who died was a “non-believer” a decision was taken by close family, initially, NOT to have anything religious. So far so good. Then suddenly we came to know that there will be religious ceremony on a certain day, not one but two of them, held one after another, believe it or not, the same ceremony was to be repeated. One was at their home and the other one was at their work place cum old home! If this change was decided by first family, I respect the family’s decision.

In such situations it is incorrect to say that something is correct or wrong because everything depends on the perspective. Why did the first family take this decision? Were they pushed by other relatives into taking this decision? Were they forced to take such a decision? I came to know later, that this decision of double Puja, was taken to “take care” of bad vibes that might be generated because of death, as there was a marriage in the family after 3 months. The decision was pushed by the other family members on the first family. Amen! If there is God then, why are people scared of Him! He brings you to this world and then takes you back when the time is up! Then why the fear of “bad vibes”?

Who should take such decisions? The first family or the next level of family? Why such decision could have been taken? In Hinduism it is suggested to perform these religious functions after  death, so that evil will go away!! Is death evil? Is almost a natural death, due to old age, bad? How does a loving peaceful souls death lead to bad events in your family or create bad vibes? How will this natural process cast a long shadow of death on your family and the events that will take place in family in future? How do you know that performing religious Puja will ensure that everything will be hunky dory in your family, post puja? Does it ensure that no bad thing will ever occur in your family? Will there be no deaths in the family, ever? What is bad about death? Yes it is bad and shocking if it happens to a young person, as an out of turn event.

I will share with you another  example which I had noticed when I attended one more cremation recently. At the cremation, many people are present but one can make out who is from the first family. During this event another cremation was taking place. I saw a gentlemen, whom I could judge that he was first family. This was confirmed next day when he was also present to collect the ashes, generally first family attends to this chore. On both occasions his cell phone was regularly ringing and he was all the time busy attending the same!! I cannot imagine that a person from the first family is so busy, that he had to take his calls all the time during this process.

Is one really so busy? Can you not be involved with the family even for a small duration, when death has occurred? Can you not respect the departed soul? At least for the last journey one is expected to honour the dead person. In Hinduism dead body is treated on par with Him!! Whenever you see an unknown funeral passing by, you automatically bow!! Maybe the cell phone guy was GOD himself!!

In all this discussion we have forgotten about  the wishes of the departed person. Should we not respect him? It will be polite to follow his views which do not affect anyone. What happens if there are no rituals? What is wrong in having views different than the “normal” views? Then again what is a “normal” view?

My friends I am confused. How the so called educated persons follow things that have no scientific background? Why under the garb of religion, things are pushed on the family? Why could the close family not resist such a push? Did they do it to err on the “safe” side by following the so called traditions? I hope my thoughts will give the few people who read this blog, strength to resist such pushes in life. RIP Sir!!

Humane approach to technology!

New technologies are developed by humans, don’t lose humane approach when using them!

Today’s human attributes are the result of changing, improving of the skill sets. Ages back humans started carving things on stones to write messages. They used signs, images to convey what they wanted to say. Advance in technology is changing the way we live, the way we write and the way we communicate. We developed modern languages, both spoken and written.

Whats App, Facebook, Snap chat, Skype have helped us to keep connected 24/7. And are we in touch? Of course, we are. We can communicate individually, in groups anytime we want. This technology has helped us to find long lost friends, got people in touch again. There are alumni groups, there are office groups, there are ex office groups, there could be ex ex office groups too! I don’t know if the lovers form a group of different ex’s like A breaks up with B and then B breaks up with C and then A breaks up with D; A, B, C, D may form a group! Possible, these groups may already be existing!

It seems that like fashion, our writing methods and style are also coming back in vogue after years. We had bell bottom pants in 70’s and looks like they will be the next rage! Ladies used wear a choli in olden days, now a days the blouses are so small that are may be tinier than cholis! It seems that the language of communication from stone age is coming back after completing a full circle. I am sure by now you must have understood that I am talking of Emojis. Whats App has changed our writing style and took it back to stone ages, at least sometimes.

Advent of Whats App has led to evolution of emojis. Maybe initially it was thought that using emoji was a good way of responding quickly. But over a period, this seems to have evolved in a language of its own. Add to that words like K for Ok, HBD for happy birthday and so on. Pre-emoji days, when somebody contacted us on phone and we were busy, we replied with a quick, “I will call you back.” Cell phones brought a bit of more technology and we could quickly respond by text message, “I will call you back, I am in a meeting, text me the details, I am driving” or some such thing. Then in most cases, we called on phone after we became free.

We have hundreds of “friends” but we are very lonely, we don’t even know our neighbours, sometimes; this cliché is so true these days. What is the real use of this new technology, how to use it correctly, is it really beneficial? Generally, technology that gets absorbed by large number of people quickly, is good and helpful. Unless some other technology comes up sooner than expected, they have a decent life cycle too! But the classic case is of Fax and Pager. These technologies were good when they were introduced, but were quickly made obsolete by e mail and cell phones.

How to make new devices and technology useful? We should not forget that the human element should always be remembered in interactions. People become anonymous behind technology. This anonymity makes people bolder, many a time in a wrong way,  in what they write and what they post, and how much they post! We can make Whats App groups clutter free by not allowing forwards. In one group we have 150 members, imagine if forwards and GM/GN messages were allowed! Let me assure you it is doable. I found one very interesting way of making FB interesting, enjoyable and fun. On Jaya’s wall she shared a message, gist of which is as follows. “This is my post without any photo, so it may not look interesting. Write a word or anything about me after fully reading this message”. Its a very innovative way of involving friends. When people read the message, they have written whatever first came to their mind about her! In some cases the association was maybe ten years, in other cases it was 50 years old! You don’t need to share 100 photos of your recent holiday; you can share a photo or two and then share the link for other photos. Please understand that maybe 1 or 2 out 100 people are interested in seeing ALL the photos! Make things clean and clutter free and enjoy fruits of innovations!

How to handle issue of “Friends”? Since last 3 years, I have stopped sending friend requests on Facebook? Whenever I get a friend request, I check if I have any common friends. Unless I get positive response from some common friend, I keep it on hold. Sometimes, there are some persons with whom you have interacted quite a lot in olden days, sends a friend request, I accept it. But in general, I am not very comfortable with “new friends”!

Most important thing is people forget the human part of the connect in electronic media. On occasion like birthdays, people send their best wishes on Whats App and Facebook. I try and thank everybody individually. It may be a one liner but I write, “Hey Deepak, thanks for your wishes? Have you recovered from your health issue?” Or some such thing. This small gesture, I feel, goes long way in bringing friends closer. When I have to wish people on their birthdays, I try and call them, I talk on phone. This is the human touch I am talking about. Wishing on Whats App and FB is good but it feels impersonal. Let’s use these technical advances by all means but don’t forget the human touch, like phone call! Let me assure that you and the person with whom you talked will be mighty pleased!

Old or New? What’s your view?

As you grow older, learn to enjoy both old and new stuff!

This is the video of the Marathi song “Ghei Chand Makarand”, sung by Rahul Deshpande and Shankar Mahadevan.

This is the same song, sung by Mahesh Kale in fusion format. Mahesh is a US based Marathi singer who likes to experiment. This video has shown problem sometimes while displaying, maybe due to copyrights issue, so please bear with me. If you want, I can mail to you the link for private viewing. Or you may try this link

https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aq4ckSwupy2Sma1iy2ZLMn1eP-Ov9A

It all started with my forwarding the video by Mahesh Kale, singing a famous Natya Geet, “Ghei Chand Makarand” in a new fusion format on a Whats App group. Friends on the group are my classmates, all around 70! The original song was sung by Veteran Singer Late Vasantrao Deshpande. He had a fantastic style and his repertoire was full of many variations, he could switch to a new variation at will! He was incomparable. When someone else sang this song, it was always compared with the Master. When the Mahesh Kale video of this song was forwarded by me, people pounced on me and various comments were made starting from how this can be compared with Vasantrao, to people who are proud of their lack of knowledge of the language Marathi are bound to make such a mess! In between, my friends forgot that there are various ways of doing same  things including singing and composing of songs.

The comparison of old and new has always been there and old school folks, no pun intended, are always critical of new ways. There are two songs from Hindi movies. The wordings of the two songs are different but mean almost the same. One song is sung  sensuously, while the other one sung in a raunchy fashion.

First song “Ankhon mein kya ji”, a song from film “Nau Do Gyara”, a 1957 movie.

What do I visualize in the eyes 

Oh! I see a silver cloud 

What do you see in the cloud 

Oh! I can visualize a flying stole in those eyes 

I see sensuous flurry under the flying stole!  

Second song is “Choli ke piche kya hai”, a song from film “Khalnayak”, a 1993 movie.

What is that I observe underneath your blouse 

What is that I view underneath your stole 

Oh! I have my heart beating below my blouse 

I have heart underneath my stole! 

In the first song the lyricist has mentioned flurry of what? Probably he is discretely mentioning about the flurry due movement of the breasts! This is written in a beautiful poetical way. In the second song the lyricist talks about the heart which is hiding behind the blouse and the stole! If we take the literal meaning of the of the song plus the way the songs are sung, first song hints at physical attributes whereas in the second song he is talking the ultimate symbol of love, the heart! But raunchy style of the second song makes it more matter of fact whereas in the first song it becomes lyrical poetry!  36 years had made the difference in expressing things differently, though it is about fluttering heart.

Both songs apparently suit the situation in the movie and though they mean the same thing, these songs should be looked at, independently. My friends from the Whats App group, would not like what I write or talk in this argument. How unpolite it is, to even discuss a raunchy song? How can you compare it with the sensuous song?

What is right and what is wrong? Should people stick to their “during our time argument” or should people be mature enough to enjoy whatever is good irrespective of the time line of that song or a story, movie or a drama. Should we say that “Gone with the Wind” was better than “Godfather”? These are movies of two different genres and time frames. The story telling methods, filming techniques, music and such attributes were different in those time periods. But these both were independently very good movies!  “Gone with the Wind” was a period drama from 100 years before in Civil War times and released in 1940; “Godfather” was released in 1972 and is story about Mafia wars of the decade of 1940.

“Guide” was a Hindi movie from 60’s of last century, “Kabhi Alvida Na Kehana” was a movie from current century. Both movies had issue of marital discord handled differently. Both films had good story, actors, songs, presentation. In Guide shortfall of Devanand’s acting was more than made up by Waheeda’s acting and dancing. Kabhi Alvida Na Kehana was a modern movie set in New york. There was good acting, songs and stories with excellent presentation. What is the point in saying oh, I can’t see the other movie. Someone will say it is too modern, too bold; other will say oh, its old style of acting and story-telling. These differences will be there but in their own way these were good movies, liked by audiences of those times.

When Mahesh Kale’s song was being discussed, people went to the extent of talking about Goddess Saraswati. Hindu Goddess of knowledge, music. To me song is a song is a song. And the same thing is about movies, literature, short stories, dramas and other art forms. These have developed over a period and humans create these art forms to enjoy life. A person who is not trained about certain type of classical singing, and may not have depth of knowledge that scholars have. That does not mean that the person can not experiment. Quality of everything improves only when different things are tried.

Chefs make superb food by trying new ways of doing things. They make our experience more enjoyable by trying out different spices, mixing different condiments, making some dish hot or sweet. Some dish may be sour, another maybe pungent. A few years back we stayed in a tree resort in Australia. We went out for a vegetarian dinner. We were very much in interior of Australian east coast. The Italian joint served us a dish made of mashed sweet potatoes, some beans, some fruit and condiments which were unknown to us. The end result was simply amazing. If we had not tried this, we may have ended up eating a burger.

I always feel that as we grow older, we are actually better off. We have the advantage having seen so many different things, compared to younger generation. Our generation has seen bullock carts, to 5G internet. Why not talk of bullock carts? It had its own charm but why not enjoy the 5 G internet. Please compare old and new stuff. You can always say that compared to walking, traveling by bullock cart was like 2G or 3G. Have fun and enjoy what is better; don’t say this new thing is bad. New thing is superb for young folks. Old things were superb for us. Our parents also used talk of Sehgal songs while we discussed Kishor Kumar! I honestly tell you, I used to enjoy Sehgal songs every day at 8 am on radio Ceylon!

Motherland or Fatherland?

Loyalties in the Complex world!

Mesut Özil  is a German professional footballer who plays for English club Arsenal. He retired from international football, very recently, due to discrimination he felt when Germany lost in this year’s world cup football at the league level itself. He came into limelight in 2010 world cup at the age of 22 and had lion’s share in Germany’s victory in 2014. For sportsmen, life is a big grind and with age their game becomes more mature, age does slow them down too. After Germany lost in league stage this year, murmurs had started about Özil’s poor performance but people forget that the whole German team had played poorly including in the practice games. In certain circles, there started a whisper campaign where it was said that Özil was not true to his adopted country. He has Turkish origins.

This campaign upset him so much that he said, “When Germany won in 2014, I was a German; now that Germany has lost I am a Turkish immigrant living in Germany.” In disgust he simply retired. This brings out the old questions about immigration. Since last century, immigration has reached epidemic proportions. Similar statement was made by Albert Einstein in 1922. He had said, “If my relativity theory is proven right then Germany will claim that I am German and France will say that I am a global citizen; but if this theory is not successful then France will say that I am German and Germany will say that I am a Jew!” This statement perfectly explains how the thought process in the world has hardly changed in such matters.

Özil is the son of Turkish immigrants and was born in Germany. The laws about citizenship in all countries are different; in the US a child born on US soil, irrespective of Visa status of the mother, becomes Citizen of US. Özil is born and brought up in Germany but as often happens he and his family have kept close links with his roots in Turkey. With sons of diaspora doings so well internationally in football for Germany, the Turkish President Erdogan used Özil for photo session opportunity! This started a bit of whisper campaign in Germany. Had Germany done better than what they did, there would have been no murmurs or whispers. France had about ten players with African origin in their world cup winning team. Comedian Noah of South African origin had commented in a show, “Africa has won the world cup!” French Ambassador to US, Araud, rebuked Noah and wrote to him a twitter message, that Noah had misunderstood France’s cultural model. France had won the World Cup which helped the Ambassador take this view. Official French statements differ when France is attacked by French citizens of African origin.

Where should the loyalty of immigrants be? Where is the loyalty of immigrants? It’s a tough call and there are different ways of looking at this. The loyalty issue will be faced by first generation immigrants. Generations after first, will not face such issues, as next generations will be born and brought up in the adopted country! Proliferation of technology, especially internet, has changed things drastically. In 60’s and 70’s of last century, people who migrated to different countries traveled back home infrequently. There was no WhatsApp, no Facebook and no Skype. So, communication was difficult and expensive. In early 80’s when Jaya was in the US for her MS, we did not have phone at home. Jaya would write to me to fix up telephone call timing at someone else’s home. I would then go to their home and hoped that we got connected.

With fantastic changes in communications, democratization of people’s finances, due to greats strides in IT industry things are pretty different in this century. People are fully connected, people travel back home regularly, parents and aunts and uncles also travel to different countries where diaspora has moved. The diaspora keeps local traditions, recipes and clothing styles alive even in foreign countries.

With these changes, probably it is difficult for first generation immigrants to shift loyalties to land where they live! In Indian context, will they sing God Save the Queen, Star Spangled Banner or Jana Gana Mana more forcefully, more from the bottom of heart? It is difficult to say. Recently, English cricket captain made a telling comment. He said, “These days when we play against India, whether in India or back home, advantage is always with India because for them both places are “home” due to great support they get in England too! Large population advantages?

30 years back, I remember a discussion when someone said in England that the real test for immigrants should be whether they clap for or against England. But now things have changed so much that such discussions are never even attempted.

Back to immigration. Which is your land the Fatherland where you have now immigrated or Motherland where you were born and brought up? Where are your loyalties? I have observed especially about Indian diaspora that they make handsome  contributions to the Fatherland but they don’t forget their Motherland too! It is as if they have duel citizenship, mentally. Some modern “financial fugitives” actually have citizenship of many countries and move their assets and body to escape the law of land which gives them trouble. Country like India have started many new schemes to tap the potential of diaspora by providing them with cards like Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards to make life easier for them when and if the want travel to back home, invest money in India, maybe take part in elections. Mother countries are bound to wood their prodigal sons. Many a time it is seen that people shine better in their Fatherland due to various factors. Their country is bound to take advantage of their roots back home.

Many a times I wonder what will be the mental status of fourth generation diaspora? What will a Aniruddh Kulkarni, fourth generation immigrant, who may go by informal name of Andy CoolKar, feel about Motherland? Will he really feel the same love about then too distant a motherland, mentally? I get a feeling that the Caucasian immigrants may find it a little easier to merge in countries which are predominantly Caucasian. But now these things are also changing fast. Caucasians (is by today’s definition West European?) consider themselves different than the Hispanics, people with Spanish/Portuguese background but normally living in South America. Will countries become melting pots like New York city is? Or will there will be street signs in Spanish and Chinese and maybe even in Telugu or Hindi in some towns in foreign countries? Which will then be the Fatherland and the Motherland? Tough call? 強硬電話, Llamada difícil, कठिन कॉल!

Özil’s of the world, then do not be so emotional and retire! The whole world is your playing ground buddy!

Democracy, Mobocracy, Lynching?

Stop Lynching at the earliest before they become uncontrollable!

India urf Bharat is the world’s largest functioning democracy which has been holding reasonably fair elections since more than 60 years. People have punished the Leaders who had done wrong things e.g. Indira Gandhi after emergency, Congress after major corruption scandals in 2014 to bring Modi in! It is also driven by emotion and brought in Rajeev Gandhi with a very large margin after Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Our democracy is always in the self correction mode. But does this mean that we are really functioning democracy in the right spirit? I have my doubts. Let us not forget that India’s worst lynching was the 1984 killings of people from Sardar community in Delhi and surroundings.

Recently, we have been reading  about public lynching. These are not one of events but it appears that there is an epidemic of lynching all over India. I don’t care and bother about the political angle but I am worried about the human angle. Whatever the instigation, how can people kill any person when there has been no personal enmity, no personal interaction? In Most cases the lynching has taken place based on rumours. Unfortunately, spreading rumours is just a finger-tip away, thanks to Whats App! In India, Whats App is being used extensively. India has largest number of groups and the sending “forwards” has become national past time and hobby! Two major rumours that spread were, “There are people kidnapping children” and the second one was “flesh of so called “Holy” animal is being transported by persons of certain community.” The holy animal concept is like freedom fighters and terrorists. The holy animal for a community provides flesh which is delicacy for other communities. Assuming that some persons did break a law, why not inform the authorities and let them handle it? Who has given people the authority to kill people? Have public courts now become official?

History of humans has been brutal. Largest brutality was the world war second! Millions of people were killed in this war! All this started with pogroms against the Jews. (A pogrom is an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jews in Russia or eastern Europe.)

World over, Jews is the community that is either loved or hated, but mostly hated. They have excellent skill sets in business, music, literature to name a few areas of their expertise. But they are always determined to succeed in whatever they do. They are a determined community which has been succeeding against all odds. Some of them are extremely orthodox and very ruthless in their business dealings. Worlds sharpest minds are from this community. But when the “Aryan” Germans decided to punish the Jews for their perceived treacheries, Jews had no chance and hundreds and thousands of Jews were killed, in cold blood by sending them to concentration camps under the garb of research. This ultimately culminated into war. This war was one of the most fierce and brutal war in history of mankind. Worst brutality was the Atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki! 

Do we humans ever learn any lessons from the events that have taken place in not too distant a memory? Some do but many don’t. My friend Vijay told me a story about his discussion with a blue-blooded German, during one of his visits to Germany. Subject of Bhagwad Geeta came up during discussions. Vijay explained to his friend how Lord Krishna convinced Arjuna to take up the war to fulfill his duties. The German friend told Vijay, “I don’t care if the Lord told Arjuna, I would not follow this advice. You folks do not know the gravity of what we in Germany have gone through during the second world war. I would never follow such advice even if Lord Krishna gives it”! To me this is one incident that throws focused light on what really happened during the world war two.  

But the lynching incidents that have been taking place, have given me shudders and these incidents give me a feeling the there is no difference between humans and the beasts! Humans are supposed to have a refined brain which allows the human race to behave like, yes, the humans do! The people taking part in the lynching are beasts as far as I am concerned. Beasts generally fight among each other for food, power and females, they have their community laws. A beast will generally not attack its prey, if it is not hungry. But now humans have started killing people in cold blood, just based on rumours; the so-called incidents had no relation with the people, taking part in lynching. They have killed simply based on here say! Simply based on Whats App messages.  

The recent lynching that took place in Karnataka had a victim who was working for Google. He and a few friends while taking a spin on a weekend, stopped at a road side kiosk for a cup of tea. One of their friends from a foreign country, was with them. The friend saw some children playing there and offered them chocolates. Some altercation took place and a few locals asked, “Why are you giving chocolates to these kids?” To avoid any further complications, the group simply said sorry and drove away. Instantly, Whats App messages started circulating, claiming that these people were from a child kidnapping gang. Their photos got circulated and road blocks started coming up in the direction where the car had taken off. They finally were stopped as their car turned turtle. One of them was killed in beatings. Others got seriously hurt. They did not get an opportunity to explain anything. Were the killer’s humans or beasts?  

What leads people to such a brutal act? Are there no laws in this country? To my knowledge there are enough laws that can act as deterrents to such barbaric acts. After all these barbaric acts were no case of sudden anger, no case of love triangle. The people killed had not done anything, they were simply rumoured to have done something. It’s the application of existing laws, and fast track courts that can take these cases to their natural end, quickly. Though these thugs are insane, they cannot hide behind temporary insanity plea. The victims were not known to the murderers, the victims had not done anything illegal. In fact, the victims were visitors from far off places and were on a very temporary visit.  

Government is pushing Whats App, the company, to eliminate methods of quick circulation of such rumours. They have already started acting technologically, but it will take some time. It should not so happen that failure of Whats App to prevent such rumours being spread, leading to censorship or closing of their India operations! Because that is killing the messenger, pun absolutely intended. Why these acts have started?  Why these Vigilantes have become active?  (vigilante is a civilian or organization that undertakes law enforcement (or actions in the pursuit of self-perceived justice) that is without legal authority.) 

Vigilantes become active when they feel that government is not able to handle misdeeds of some people. But this is not true! These so-called Vigilantes themselves feel that they can do anything, with impunity. Let us all not become Vigilantes and attack these brutes but let us wake up the law enforcing authorities to act and act quickly. Form special fast track courts to reach the just conclusion. I sure am hoping that these cases will be treated under the Indian penal code of “Cold Blooded Murder”. They deserve the maximum punishment under the law.  

 

If – Poem by Rudyard Kipling!

“If!” If we have a mature society, world will be peaceful!

Kipling was a famous English writer/poet who was born in second half of 19th century and died in 1936. He was the first English writer to have won Nobel prize, in literature in 1907. His most famous works of fiction include The Jungle Book, Just So Stories, Kim and The Man Who Would Be King. 

Kipling was born in Bombay, Malabar Hill photo of olden times displayed above, and died in London. He lived in India when the British Raj was at its peak, world over. Some of his writings do have the shade of white supremacy! But he was definitely not out and out a Hitler. Like every coin has two sides, the Britishers felt that Raj was their birthright, though for us it was colonial supremacy which needed to be overthrown. There were many Indians who had taken up jobs with British Government in Police, Army and Civil services in India. Did it mean that they supported the British Raj? Except for a minuscule number, all people took up jobs with British as their lively hood. Naturally, during those times, the rules required to remain in the service, had to be followed. I am sure many of these rules were anti Indian, but the people had to follow them to continue in service. Did it mean that they supported the British? No way!     

The poem, “If”, which had been painted on the wall of the students’ union building, in Manchester, was removed by the Students’ Union on Tuesday, 17th July, in a bid to “reclaim” history on behalf of those who have been “oppressed” by “the likes of Kipling”. Student leaders at Manchester University declared that Kipling “stands for the opposite of liberation, empowerment, and human rights”.    

Besides Kipling’s racist poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’ and there is  plethora of other work which sought to legitimize the British Empire’s presence in India and De-humanize people of colour. This logic by students’ union is deeply inappropriate. The students’ union thought that to promote the work of Kipling, in the Students’ Union building, named after a prominent South African anti-Apartheid activist, Steve Biko, is inappropriate. Is it not a mockery literary activity? Is it not hypocrisy? Literature gives us an opportunity to compare world from different times and place, perspective of which may or may not match with our own. Literature teaches us nuances and the importance of engagement instead of “my way or highway” attitude. It also fore warns us against the pitfalls of being judgmental. Removing the poem from the wall is not the way to show dissent. 

What would have been the right way to dissent?  The poem “If” is about real life and puts forward very positive thoughts about our day to day life. Following are two lines from the poem 

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same   

Kipling has expressed positive thoughts in these two lines! All our life, we face Triumph or Disaster; but Kipling says that you treat them just the same. If we are able to follow his advice, if we do not get too excited with triumph and too dejected by failure, we will travel our life’s journey without many ups and downs in our mind, we will be able to avoid pitfalls! The poem “If” just talks about keeping positivity in life though we may face many storms!  You can read the poem “If” here. 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46473/if— 

What was the point in erasing this poem which promotes positive thought process? The students’ union representative who explained their view point was an Asian lady. This incident took place in Manchester. England is known for its freedom of expression. At the Piccadilly Circus in London, every day you can watch people of different race, caste, creed and religion expressing their views openly. With this atmosphere, students’ union team did what they wanted to do. However, my view is that since the Poem on the wall was “If” and not “White man’s burden”, they should not have erased the poem but should have written the poem by Maya Angelou “Still I Rise”, alongside! “Still I Rise” poem can be read in one of the photos below. This poem is equally positive about life, and tells downtrodden people how to overcome difficulties, though obstacles keep arising!  

MayaAngelou

The British ruled us for 150 years and looted a lot of things from here, including the Kohinoor! They were brutal many times and showed their cunning ways by following the policy of divide and rule! But they had good side too! Recently, Elphinstone Road station on Mumbai suburban railway line was renamed, as Prabhadevi. But basic fact does not change that the railway system in India was built by the British for troop movement! But when they left India in 1947, they did not take railways away. Before British time, there was never one country called India, as is known today. We have been singing paeans of Bharat all the time, but complete Bharat never existed. There were many small and large kingdoms all over which were run by various Kings. British, to take full control over these kingdoms, won over some of them by trickery and some in war.  Credit for formation of Akhand Bharat goes to the British, our number one enemy before Independence.

The literature helps us to look at both sides of a point of view, it has also helped us to look at the British Raj from different viewpoint. Bad points about British need not be elaborated, as they are well documented, but there are many good points too; I am writing in English, which is a gift from the British. Especially after proliferation of computers, importance of English has increased tremendously world over. British society has allowed the students’ union to remove “If” from the wall, they have shown great tolerance by allowing this to happen in England. Will we allow a foreigner to remove a Shloka from some wall in an institution in India? Are we as a society mature enough? If, if only we had that maturity.. It’s always “If” which was written by Kipling more than 100 years ago!  

 

  

 

 

You Start Dying Slowly!

Live life royally so that you don’t start dying slowly!

A friend shared with me a poem “You Start Dying Slowly” by Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet. The funny part is, this information is a hoax. An article in Latin American Herald Tribune reports, “Muere Lentamente” is the work of Brazilian poet Martha Medeiros.

Martha_medeiros_tv_brasil

It is remarkable how this Brazilian poet, despite not getting the acclaim and recognition for her work, is taking it all in stride. The article says she is not losing sleep over it and has “enough of a sense of humor to laugh at all this.” That speaks volume of a person who is not dying slowly. You can read the full poem here. https://7minutesonline.com/2017/03/13/you-start-dying-slowly-poem-by-martha-medeiros-which-has-been-erroneously-attributed-to-pablo-neruda-for-a-long-time/

I have chosen to share some important lines from the poem.

You Start dying slowly 

If you do not appreciate yourself 

When you kill your self-esteem 

If you avoid to feel passion 

At least once in your lifetime, 

To run away from sensible advice… 

We should take some time to find out what in you is dying slowly. Whether it is a job you have long wanted to resign from, or your desire to migrate to a place where you feel like you truly belong, or even for once wear something else instead of black, or to order Bhel instead of your favorite Upama or maybe you want to eat pani puri from street side vendor! We’re all in a rut somehow. It’s time to get out of our comfort zones and to finally live life fully!

What happens is that we are stuck into our day to day routine. We do the same things every day, eat, drink, go to office, come back home, watch TV and go to sleep. Most of us are afraid to change. Afraid of what? I do not know? We also have apprehensions about talking to persons not known to us. We think twice before we call a long lost friend when we get his/her phone number after a long search. “I hope that I am not forgotten. Now the person has become a big shot, will he talk to me as a friend?” All these small things always keep on pulling us back.

I have tried to explain below how the thoughts in the poem are real world things. These examples show that you have destiny in your own hand provided you don’t start dying slowly every day!

A friend called me and said, “Pramod do you have some time for me?” I said come over. When he came home he said, “Can we go out?”. We went about 10 km from home and went to a lake shore. I could see that he was completely stressed out. He said, “Pramod I wanted commit suicide but my wife convinced me otherwise. I was traveling and staying in a hotel.” He was working in a reasonably decent organization and had no work-related problems. He further said, “I just don’t feel like going to my office. Somehow, I hate the atmosphere in the office though personally I have no issues.” He said many things and in the end after about 45 minutes he asked me what he should do? I said, “Change the job.” He said that since he did not have any job offer how can he leave a well-paid job? I asked him, “Will you all starve if you don’t get paid for one month?” He smiled. Next day he resigned, within 8 days he got another good job. He bumped into me after a year or so, all smiles and fresh as ever.

Another friend was a couple of years junior to me in engineering college. After second year he decided to leave the course as his calling was theater! He took a degree in arts and managed to get a job in an insurance company where they allowed him time for his passion! If he had not dared to follow his dream, I don’t think he would have been happy, ever!

Mohan

Leading actor Dr. Mohan Agashe did his MD in psychiatry after his MBBS degree. I need not tell you what he has achieved in acting field including a Padmashri! But most will not be aware of his work in Medical field. I called Mohan today to get the details about his work in the medical field. In post Independence India there was hardly any work done on Mental Education, Services and Research. Mohan conducted a study for the nation vis a vis, state of Maharashtra. He generated a project report on the subject. His report was accepted by Government of Maharashtra in 1988, a decision was taken to establish Maharashtra Institute of Mental health. Established in 1991, this institute trains people to take care of patients who need psychiatric help.  Thanks to Mohan, the pioneer, who was instrumental in starting formal Mental Health training in India. I am sure Mohan must have been advised by many to take up medical practice after he completed his studies which was a sensible advice; but Mohan continued to pursue his acting passion along with medical career. Rest as they say is history!

STen

There was an eleven-year-old boy who was passionate about cricket! How can an eleven-year-old be so passionate that his middle-class parents allowed him to stay with his  relatives, to help him to follow his passion and dream. At the tender age of 16 plus Sachin Tendulkar started playing cricket for India. Basically, this happened because he had passion. Hard work, discipline, for next so many years were things which helped him play for record 24 years for India!

Friends what Martha has said in her poem is aptly displayed in the caricature below.

 Snoopy

Opposite of “You start dying slowly” is you live your life royally! To live life royally you don’t have to do things royal! You should do small things in life that you want to do! As per latest term used these days, create a bucket list of things to do before you die! Make sure that you follow your dreams. In the real world there is always a discrimination by colour of skin, height, smartness, sex, money and many other parameters. But we should not forget one thing. We humans are all a special edition, created by HIM. No two persons are same. We should be proud of what we are. We should have self-confidence about ourselves. Many a time we do not understand our own abilities, our expertise and our own self. Be proud of what you are and what you have achieved. But for that you should have tried your best in whatever you did.

I want to apologize to Martha Medeiros. She has inspired me to add a couple of lines to her poem! Friends, you also suggest your own lines!

You Start dying slowly 

When you do not show empathy for others 

When you do not want to give back to the society 

When you don’t help people in need! 

Martha, thank you for allowing me to take the liberty!