Justice Delayed 

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The problem with the law is that it is blind. It is quite like the plight of a young blindfolded child trying to hit a piñata – there are always chances of collateral damage. The blindfolded statue of Justice which is supposed to portray Her objectivity and therefore Her greatest strength also becomes Her greatest weakness. 

Justice, as a concept is depicted by a statue of lady justice which is blindfolded, carries a balance and a sword in hand. What is the significance of this depiction?  

Lady Justice is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from one hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case’s support and opposition. 

Since the 16th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or any other status. But in some statues, the blindfold is removed. The explanation is that the maidenly form of the statue implies that she will be impartial.  

The sword in her hand indicates the power that she has as the final authority. It suggests that there is no argument on the decision taken by the authority of law.  

All these definitions and discussions are fine in. But does one always get justice in real life? What is the definition of justice? After all, the justice system in any state or for that matter in the world is based on rules and regulations decided by you and me or our representatives. So, the justice system is fluid and needs to change as per the situation. At the same time, it cannot change at the fall of your hat.  

The thoughts about the justice system started in my mind as I have been reading about the Nirbhaya case. (The brutal rape and murder of one lady in Delhi by a gang of six thugs including juveniles in the year 2012.) After a long and delayed case, finally, the verdict was given to hang all the culprits to death. But the convicts are taking advantage of the loopholes in the legal system.

Nowadays, when I read the judgements, a term regularly is used “rarest of the rare cases.” In many countries, the death penalty is not given. But the maximum sentence given is life imprisonment. It is difficult to say what is right and what is wrong. India still has the death penalty in its system. But sometimes the term “law is blind” seems to be appropriate. In the Nirbhaya case, the most brutal attacker was a juvenile! But what should be the definition of a minor? Simply because the person is below eighteen, he/she is defined as a juvenile. The brutality displayed by the young person in the Nirbhaya case was so severe that the person should have been hanged publicly; if possible, he should have been stoned to death. He got away with a stay of three years in a correction centre. I am sure that he is leading a healthy life now as an adult. I am not sure if it is possible to live normally when the person had behaved so brutally. Maybe he is a demon in human form.  

The sentence given to them is to hang by death. But it appears that the ruling was that all of them should be hanged together. Why is that so? The only logic a common man like me understands is that since they performed the act together, they should be hanged together. To me, it is the most illogical. All these guys are taking advantage of the system and are making appeals after appeals in cyclic manner. If an appeal delays the hanging of one person, all persons escape the hanging. Innocent till proven guilty is a sentence which one hearstypically. But once these guys are proven guilty beyond doubt, the current system allows them to delay the final act. It is making the mockery of the system. How long the cyclic appealing will continue, only the god knows. The system does not consider the family of the victim. They are looking for closure about what happened to their beloved daughter.  

One side story in this episode is equally awkward. A well-known Supreme Court lawyer, Indira Jaising, has suggested to the family of Nirbhaya that they should pardon the convicts. She has given the example of the pardon by Sonia Gandhi in Rajeev Gandhi assassination case. But no two families are the same. Who is Indira Jaising to tell this family about forgiveness? It only adds to the agony. Why has Indira Jaising not filed a PIL to ensure that the cyclic escape route for the convicts should be eliminated from the system 

A couple of days back, there was an attack in London during the daytime. A terrorist attacked a few people with a Matchette which was as long as someone’s arm. One person died, and a couple of people were injured. The attacker was caught by the anti-terrorist squad a few years back. He was sentenced to three years of prison. He had appealed, and during the hearing, it was found that as per the existing laws, the attacker could not be kept in jail. So, he was released after the stay in prison for one and a half year. He was released. But there are hundreds of such cases in Britain and these persons are required to be physically followed to ensure that they don’t attack people. But there is a limitation of how many such people can be observed. 

The terrorist was under the surveillance, but still, he managed to attack and kill. It was the system that released him. The British law or for that matter laws of any country were designed and defined when there was no terrorism as we have today. They were planned when there was hardly any migration. It is observed that the terrorists in most countries are migrants. These things take time to change. But real-life situations like terrorism and immigration don’t wait for the laws to change. These aspects of life are like time and tide! They don’t wait for anybody.  

What is the solution for this? I honestly do not know. But one thing for sure is that preachers like Indira Jaising should not interfere in somebody else’s life. Her daughter was not raped and murdered. When the event occurred in 2012, Indira Jaising must have surely burnt a few candles in the candlelight march. I hope she had not met Nirbhaya’s family at that time to suggest to be lenient to the perpetrators.  

 

 

 

 

Cuckoo in the nest!

The expression a “cuckoo in the nest” has a range of meanings. It can mean any person or thing found where it doesn’t belong and is also used to indicate any problem that snowballs, consuming resources needed for other purposes. Also, the term is sometimes used to refer to an illegitimate child.

How did all this begin? It began with the fact the Cuckoo puts its eggs in the nest built by the Crows (in some areas different birds). I was trying to find out scientific reasons for this but could not find any logical explanation. Cuckoo is smarter than a Crow. But I also understand that crows are smart, but they are not smart enough. The Cuckoo puts the eggs in the Crow’s nest when the Crow has gone out.

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Cuckoo thinks that this fellow Crow is building the nests for him, so why should the Cuckoo waste his time on building the nest. They act like humans and try and conserve their resources. Cuckoo’s eggs hatch early and then Cuckoo’s try and ditch the host’s eggs. The young ones in some cases look similar in the initial phase to that of Crow’s young chicks. They make a lot of cacophonies so that the crow feeds them early and more. It’s like the small babies; the mother gives them milk when they cry. Another theory I have read is that the Cuckoos are vegetarian and they ensure that their young ones get the proteins in the form of bugs from Crows.

All this discussion leads to a question about parasites. A parasite is an organism that lives within or on a host. The host is another organism;  the parasite uses the host’s resources to fuel its life cycle. It uses the host’s resources to maintain itself.  Parasites vary widely. Around 70 per cent are not visible to the human eye, such as the malarial parasite, but some worm parasites can reach over 30 meters in length.  Parasites are not a disease, but they can spread diseases. Different parasites have different effects.

We see parasites in the human race too! My first interaction with human parasites was when I was in engineering college hostels.  We used to be three per room. But in some places, more than three students lived. These students lived in the hostels for a couple of reasons; there was a music lovers’ gang. They would have music sessions on many nights. Sometimes these sessions would continue for a few nights at a stretch. On those days, some would sleepover and continue to do so for weeks. Those were pre-security or terrorism days, so nobody bothered who lived and who went back home. Last year my buddy Nayan and I visited the hostels out of nostalgia and were required to make the gate entry, inform the purpose of visit. We also had to wear a security tag. Then there was another set of parasites, though in small numbers. They were from families with financial constraints and would live in their friend’s room right through the year. Nobody would even discuss such an act (which could be called illegal!), but these folks were parasites out of compulsion and could be called good parasites.

I remember a very distinct system from my school days.  I used to come to Pune sometimes for holidays to be with my grandparents. In those days, there was a system called “Madhukari” (माधुकरी). In my grandparents’ home, a couple of young students used to come for lunch every day. I would not know the basis for choosing such persons for lunch. They were obviously from low-income families and had got themselves attached to different families for getting invited for a meal, on different days of the week! The Marathi term for this is “वार लावुन खाणे.” Technically, these young people were parasites, but they were invited by the family due to an act of charity. It was resource sharing by the family with these unfortunate young people. I shudder to think when I remember this system.

Cuckoos are smarter and many times larger than the hosts. The same analogy can be applied to business organisations who follow a very similar concept. I know about a particular organisation which is massive. They have businesses in many spheres. When they find that an individual small, agile and smart organisation is challenging them in a business area, they compromise with them in that area. But in other business areas, they compete aggressively with the same small organisation. I am not sure whether to call such organisations savvy or smart or aggressive. They conserve their resources in certain areas to compete like hell in the other areas! These large organisations cannot be called parasites, but the act of conserving resources is a part of the definition of parasitism!

There is an old fable of the ugly duckling. It is a story of accidental parasitism. By some accident, a swan egg becomes part of duck eggs family. The eggs get hatched, and the swan gets treated as a duckling. It looks different than the ducklings and is treated like an ugly duckling. The ugly duckling cannot quack like the other ducklings and looks very different than others in the family as the ducklings grow. Once the ugly duckling looks at its image in the water. It realises that it has turned up in to a beautiful swan. We know and hear of such fascinating stories in real life too!

Take the case of Jasprit Bumrah. The Gujarat cricketer has an unconventional bowling action, and when he started playing in IPL for Mumbai Indians, experts gave him a couple of years to be around. They all predicted that he would not be able to sustain his action over a long period. But look now where he is! After five years of Cricket, he is very much around and has become the number one fast bowler in the world. He has taken advantage of his asset/resource of different bowling action and is expected to be around for years to come. Conversion of ugly duckling into a Swan?

Talking of Cuckoos, I always used to wonder about the word Cuckold. Diving a bit into the background, I found something interesting.

From the word Cuckoo, an interesting word Cuckold has been derived. A cuckold is the husband of an adulterous wife. In evolutionary biology, the term is also applied to males who are unwittingly investing parental effort in offspring that are not genetically their own. In the days of when DNA testing was not available, it would be straightforward to get Cuckolded. When the child was conceived, only the mother would know the birth father.

I must share an amusing story. In olden days, when the kings would go on wars, they would use the Chastity belt on their wives. The belt design was such that it would allow the wives to continue with their ablutions, but it prevented them from having sex. A king prepares to go for a war. He gets a chastity belt for his queen. He locks it and hands over the key to his trusted servant so that it could be handed over when the king came back from the war. The king was about five km from the town, and he heard the sound of someone riding the horse. The king is surprised to see his trusted servant; he comes next to the king’s chariot and says, “My Lord! You have given me the wrong key”!

Coping with Death!

Birth and Death are the two absolute truths in life, there is no other side to these events. The birth in any family brings joy, and death brings sadness. In the case of birth, it is expected to be a natural progression after marriage. But for some couples giving birth to a child becomes a very complex event. But in the end, it is a joyful event.

Any death is a sad, dreadful event. Humans expect everything to happen sequentially. Humans hope that the parents will die first then the children and then grandchildren and so on. As we know, life is not so simplistic. Deaths can happen in any which way and are pre-decided by destiny. Though we know that such a catastrophe can happen, nobody is ever prepared for the break in the death sequence. In fact, we are not ready to accept death. Death is a daily occurrence in life, we directly get involved in very few of them. In India, when a death occurs, the body is generally cremated. In many communities, children and women do not go the cremation ground. We tend to shield them from death. This lack of mental preparation makes it challenging to handle death.

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This morning, I received an email from a close friend of mine, about the sudden death of his 35-year-old niece. She died in her sleep. The reason was a heart attack. The family is devastated. I immediately called him, and we talked about life. Both he and I have gone through cancer treatment. Though the onset was not significant in both our cases, it was a sudden reminder sent by destiny to both of us. It was a wakeup call saying that we are not infallible. Both of us are nearing 70 and have generally lived a happy life. But this out of turn death has really shaken me. I had met his niece a couple of times, and I remember her as a lively person. How can such things happen? How her parents, siblings, husband and other close ones must be feeling? I am not really sure that in such deaths, how even the excellent healer time will help.

Another event occurred a month and a half back, when a 42-year-old son of another close friend of mine, died of a heart attack. The son had a heart condition and was taking treatment under expert guidance. The therapy included some exercise. He was told to exercise in the hospital gym. While exercising he collapsed and died. People were around him, he was only 100 meters from the emergency room. He could not be taken there; he died before that.

It can happen that if the child were 4 or 6 years old, others might understand the grief caused by death. Some parents might feel that life is unjust to them and will think that all the sense of Godly support is over glorified; it will not be a surprise if they challenge the spiritual beliefs. When an adult dies, the person is still a child for the parent, whatever the age. Outsiders may not understand the shock of such deaths on parents. In such cases, it can so happen that the sympathy and focus may shift to the spouse or the children of the person who died. People sometimes fail to realise that the bond between the child and the parent is powerful, whatever the age. In such a case, the parent cannot be deprived of the right to grieve.

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When an adult dies, the life of his/her parents becomes more complicated as the parents are already going through a series of problems. Parents may be able to understand at some stage after the death that love is stronger than death, though it cannot stop the death from happening. One thing is sure, love ensures that attempts made by death to separate people from love do not succeed. Death cannot take away memories. Maybe life is stronger than death.

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Each religion, each philosophy has thought processes which provide solace to humans who go through extreme events like the death of an adult child. How far these are successful, I am not really sure. Such incidents have their own vagaries. It can happen that parents may not be involved in funeral arrangements for different reasons. Parents may not be in conditions to travel. Parents’ relations and interactions with the child’s spouse and the grandchildren may change, sometimes permanently. It is possible that they may be required to grieve commonly, with the spouse of the child and their other relatives. Private grief at that time may not happen. As seniors, parents may have to support younger members in the family, by keeping their own pain aside. Things can be tough.

Practical aspects will be dependent on whether the child was married or unmarried. In the case of an unmarried child, all the responsibility about banks, investments, properties, informing the employers will be with parents. The friends of the child will want to help, take it. Don’t forget that friends are also grieving and want to help. I am sure that the most challenging part will be how to handle the future. Every individual will do it differently, but a good idea will be to plan.

When I write a blog, I try to come to a conclusion at the end of the blog. But this blog is not a blog, in the real sense. I have just written down thoughts as they came to my mind. I pray to HIM to give strength to the family and friends to somehow cope with such stressful events. I also pray to the almighty, that fewer families are required to face such catastrophes!

Nirvana!

When I wrote the blog “Self-Development or Nirvana”, a friend Shrikant felt that I have over simplified Nirvana! He also said “My definition of modern Nirvana…..is….be balanced…be at peace….be happy…. be as good a person as you can possibly be….be thankful to Almighty for what you are!!!!!” I told him that when I wrote about leaving all whatsapp groups as Nirvana, I meant it is as a metaphor. In this blog there could a bit of repetition of thoughts as I am elaborating on Nirvana!

This exchange started a chain of thoughts in my mind. Hinduism is a very old religion, it is a way of life, and all the thinking, teachings and preaching prevalent today, are thoughts from a totally different environment which prevailed when these thoughts were expressed. Human society as we visualize today did not exist in olden days. It started developing today’s format as late as in 18th century when industrialization started taking place.

Earliest human societies were groups or tribes of people which consisted of hunters and gatherers. They would move around the areas surrounding but had limitations. Twenty thousand years back there were pastoral and agrarian societies. Pastoral societies depended on domesticated live-stock and agrarian societies grew crops, settled in certain areas as permanent residents. Life obviously was not easy and larger settlements started from 6000 BC. On this scale, large cities are very recent phenomena.

What must have been life when the Ashrams in Hinduism were defined? I am aware that the top creations/achievements in this world are done at a very young age. So it is possible that many of the brilliant treaties must have been written by people at a very young age. These were prodigies! Like Dynaneshwar wrote Dnyaneshwari at 18,  Mozart wrote his first symphony at the age of 5! My point is when these treaties were written, many things that exist in today’s life just did not exist. So a new interpretation of Ashrams, vis a vis modern civilization, is essential.

For this purpose, we must first understand the meaning of Ashrams as interpreted, based on old knowledge. I am taking the definition of Vanaprastha  & Sannyasa which I felt were reasonably comprehensive.

Vanaprastha – The Hermit in Retreat:

  • This stage of a man begins when his duty as a householder comes to an end
  • He has become a grandfather, his children are grown up, and have established lives of their own.
  • At this age, he should renounce all physical, material and sexual pleasures, retire from his social and professional life, leave his home, and go to live in a forest hut, spending his time in prayers.
  • He is allowed to take his wife along, but is supposed to maintain little contact with the family.
  • This kind of life is indeed very harsh and cruel for an aged person.

Sannyasa – The Wandering Recluse:

  • At this stage, a man is supposed to be totally devoted to God.
  • He is a sannyasi, he has no home, no other attachment
  • He has renounced all desires, fears and hopes, duties and responsibilities.
  • He is virtually merged with God, all his worldly ties are broken, and his sole concern becomes attaining moksha, or release from the circle of birth and death.
  • (Suffice it to say, very few Hindu men can go up to this stage of becoming a complete ascetic.)
  • When he dies, the funeral ceremonies (Pretakarma) are performed by his son and heir.

I will not discuss about Sannyasa as I feel that it is irrelevant and I don’t believe in it. Just because it is mentioned in Hindu treaties, I need not discuss it. So we will discuss Vanprastha.

In the definition of Vanprastha, first two lines are just statements of facts. The third line suggests what he should do at this stage. Next it said, he can take his wife along. But the question is does wife want to go?

To start with, something which does not include both male & female species is incorrect. This thought process “of he”, mentioned in definition is very old. It is suggested that he should renounce everything as his duties in life are over. His children are grown up, he has grandchildren and so on. Does reaching an age really mean that his duties are over? Has everything in life to do with duties?  Is life only about duties then what about pleasure? When this status is reached, I feel that he has the right to enjoy his carefree moments of life without any serious responsibilities. He may want to do things which he was not able to do, during his busy life. He may want to paint, he may want to trek, he may want to learn to sing, and he may just want to meet his friends once in a while for a cup of tea. He may want to read books. He may want to travel and see the places he has not been to. He may want go for a pilgrimage- what is pilgrimage? The definitions are changing. My friend Shrikant suggested that the recent Alaska Cruise that we took was a pilgrimage, to be with the nature for a week! Yes, I agree.

The system of ashrams is believed to be prevalent since the 5th century BC in Hindu society. However, historians say that these stages of life were always viewed more as ‘ideals’ than as common practice. According to one scholar, even in its very beginning, after the first ashram, a young adult could choose which of the other ashrams he would wish to pursue for the rest of his life. Today, it is not expected that a Hindu male should go through the four stages, but these thoughts still stand as important “pillars” of Hindu socio-religious tradition.

Many things in life are followed as “Pratha” (a way of life followed as a tradition). Many a times we follow these as God’s directive. We don’t try to discuss traditions in reference to modern society and modern way of thinking. Some of traditions may not withstand analysis of modern way of thinking as these were decided when world itself was totally different. My friend Ramesh said that Pratha becomes tradition, Tradition becomes faith and faith turns into blind faith due to fear of God! Very appropriately said!

Why were thoughts like Ashram suggested, like giving up everything in Vanprastha? First scientific point that needs to be discussed is the life expectancy of those times. I don’t think many saw their grandchildren, maybe many died even before they produced children. That is the reason population was not increasing rapidly in those days. In fact societies were wiped out by diseases like plague and cholera! Now those people who saw their grandchildren must have found life irrelevant as not many people of their age were around. So what else do you do? Give up everything, maybe die quietly one day! There was nothing else to look forward to, for such people, maybe it was very easy to give up everything when there was nothing.

What is the meaning of life? What is reason to live? What is the purpose of life? To be born and to die are two things on which we have no control. It is the life in between that matters. Based on these discussions on life we can try to arrive at definition of Nirvana! Our definition of Nirvana should address these three questions.

I do not think anyone will be able to give you an answer unless we know a person who has attained nirvana. We as humans probably do not understand this completely. This is similar to a color blind person from birth, will never able to explain what red and blue is. The person will be able to talk about the wavelength of the color, how it’s used in the human world, it’s speed, through education but will never really can explain the look or feel of the color.

If you are in the state of nirvana, then you will not be having attachments to anything. No greed, no wants, no lust, no fear, no temptations. Nothing. Zero. That is when you know you have attained nirvana. ( As per older thought process)

Some people think that they have let go of these worldly things, so they have attained nirvana. It’s not easy, but not impossible. Can everybody attain it?

My take on Niravana, similar to thoughts Shrikant’s mentioned at the beginning and bang opposite of old thinking.

  • Always keep your humility and empathy for others
  • Keep your faith intact and believe in divine power, some people may call it God
  • Let the child within you be always alive
  • Be keen to learn something new, it could be technology, art, religion
  • Don’t lose your ability to keep smiling
  • Enjoy your passions, it could be watching movies, reading books, travel
  • Do something which you were never able to do in your life
  • Don’t feel bad to enjoy materialistic things but never go after them
  • Be thankful to Almighty for what you are- (as my friend Shrikant said)
  • Last but not the least be in touch with family and friends, always

I feel that if we achieve 70% of above we have reached Nirvana! This my friends is my definition of Niravana!! What is your take?

Dance of Civilisation!

We, humans, are creatures of habits, especially small kids. Every day when I come back from office, my grand-daughter, Rhea (all of two years old), is waiting for me to take her out. I live in a modern 11 story tower. This building is amid bustling locality. We usually go to a Vitthal Mandir complex, which is nearby, for the evening outing.

When we go, Rhea is all decked up with a small empty purse on her shoulder and cell phone in her hand! She wants to imitate her mom. The Mandir complex is not more than 150 meters from our house. But during this to and fro movement to the Mandir, the activity that I observe is amazing. During these 45 minutes that we spend daily, I see many nuances of human activity. When we are in a rush, we find only chaos, but when we look at things leisurely, each person that we see is busy in peculiarly doing something. Hence, I thought of the title Dance of Civilisation!

Our observations start with the watchmen at the gate. Different security guards have their patterns, some not bothering to see who is passing through, some are busy talking on a cell phone. Some are very attentive and doing their job, sincerely. Some are friendly with kids and chat with Rhea.

From the society gate, our first stop is a next-door Bank and sometimes a shop selling various tea leaves, including the imported ones! The bank is a new bank with internet banking and ATM’s and whatnot. One sees so many people rushing to the ATM and running away. The Tea shop is in a basement, so our favourite pass time is climbing up & down the steps of the bank and the tea shop. While we are busy with this, we see every day, a set of pensioners whiling away their time, a collection of young friends chatting. Dogs were sleeping, an old beggar just idling and not begging!

We move further! There are grocery shops, a tea vendor, and an electrical repair shop. Almost a similar set of people are seen; some are chatting with owners.  some are talking over a cuppa while some are waiting, doing nothing. (Is it that many people have nothing to do or pursue in the evening?)

Further ten steps ahead is a cobbler sitting in a corner. In the last 30 years, I have never used the services of a cobbler or a मोची in the local language. I had thought that cobblers do not exist these days! I have always done my shoe polish myself, and my footwear never needed any mending! But every day when we pass through, there is a set of different people getting their footwear mended, and it appears that there is good-natured gossiping going on while footwear is patched!  In Marathi, there is an appropriate word for this kind of gossip “चांभार चौकशी”! Rhea has become friends with the cobbler, and we spend a minute or two watching what he is doing and then say bye to him!

The Mandir complex is about 2 minutes walking distance from our society, but we meander watching, observing, questions all the time what is this and what is that? We take almost ten minutes to reach our destination. Amidst the human activity, there is traffic. The road is small, and there are mostly no footpaths. Most drivers think that by honking, the person in front will get blown away; unfortunately for him, that does not happen. So more honking! Then there is Slalom plus Obstacle race combined for the two-wheeler riders. These blokes will easily win any such race world over! I saw one motorcycle rider missing the footpath by a couple of inches in Slalom mode! I am going to write to the Sports Minister to encourage such sports in our country! Coming back to honking, I think since the horns do not work as expected, many will shift to Helicopters! (Do Helicopters have horns?)

Finally, we reach the Mandir after watching some part of “Dance of Civilisation”! If you want to watch the spectacle, you must spend sufficient time in a Mandir. Why do people come to a Mandir? Well, there are various reasons, but the top of the list is to pay obeisance to Him or Her! Every individual has different degrees of beliefs in Him; for some, HE is the ultimate, some come daily to meet Him. Some come when they are in trouble, some visit when something good has happened in their lives, some come to see him just before getting married, (You need it!) all decked in their traditional silks followed of course by a videographer. Some groups come to Mandir on specific days for their Bhajans; some groups come every day for Bhajans! The level of activity that we see is unbelievable.  The process of the visit to the Mandir starts with the removal of footwear! Different people follow various methods of removing shoes; some keep them very near the steps; some keep shoes far from the steps. Some request even a stranger to look after their footwear so that it is not stolen!  Getting inside a Mandir is again an art, I thought one just walks inside! Some just solemnly wait for a few moments, hands doing Namaskar, some follow similar methods like Christians do it! Some touch each step by hand before walking up the next level. In extreme cases, some people crawl on all fours, up the steps! It is said to be done as a penance. (Penance for what?) Rhea’s favourite is to watch meshes on the gutters inside the Mandir complex and ask me questions on the same!

Once people enter the Mandir, there are again different ways each pays his/her obeisance to Him. Some perform a standing Namaskar; some perform Namaskar entirely lying down on the ground. Some enter the Sanctum Sanctorum; some don’t. Some perform their Pradakshina (Circumambulation), but all do it clockwise; some do it once, some twice, some many times! Some do it slowly; some do it fast. Some are in a hurry to go out, and some sit in the Mandir for some time. Some sing a hymn during all this process. My understanding tells me that when you come to pay obeisance, you should spare some time for Him. He does not invite you to visit the Mandir. We visit for our own sake. If we do not spend some time, we may not be able to feel the tranquillity of the Mandir. If you visit the Mandir just as another daily chore, then one might as well not visit! Rushing through is against the basic concept of visiting the Mandir. A child has ideas clear about such things. Rhea does what she wants to do. On some days, she will say I don’t want to do Namaskar; she can do this because she is not afraid of Him! She is not worried about His reaction to her actions. He never reacts, anyway! It’s all in our minds.

Another 30 meters ahead is a Mandi. We stroll in that direction at our speed. There are vegetable, fruit & flower vendors, hawking their goods. Then there are small roadside food vendors who sell their stuff. For Rhea, it’s a great treat every day to see and touch so many different vegetables, fruits, and flowers. We repeat the same process of naming them and discussing their colours. She touches each one and gets the feel and expresses how she feels about it. Some vendors interact with her, some offer her fruit, and some just ignore us. One vendor is more curious than others; he started telling her the names of vegetables in English, so I said to him that English names are taught in school; hence I am teaching her Marathi names. Then he started asking me about school education in my time, whether I had my education in English or Marathi and so on. The same set of people but different curiosities and interactions!

Then suddenly I see a bit of commotion in the area. I find that Municipal Corporation  Van from the anti-encroachment drive has reached the Mandi. Some unauthorised vendors picked up their goods and put them in the zone of the authorised vendor’s area! So they are safe now. Some food vendors had no place to hide, so they lost their stuff to the van. Other equally unauthorised vendors continued their business as if nothing has happened! They had “settled” their issues beforehand. Then there is one Ice Cream vendor. He occupies almost 15 sq met area, including blocking of the footpath with his ware and chairs, bang in front of the mandir gate! Encroachment van makes sure that they do not even go near him. For them, that vendor does not exist! He is a well-connected politician. This unsavoury activity goes on right at the gate of the Mandir, but they know that God is in your mind, He does not exist! Jaihind! Amen!

Half Century 50!!

Today I am on the threshold of becoming fifty! Those who know me personally must be wondering what has happened to this guy! He is much older but claims to be fifty, is this the start of dementia? Has this fellow gone senile? Some will say “must go and meet this chap before he stops recognizing people”. Some may call Jaya to find out how things are in general at our end and specifically about my health. She will, of course, confidently tell that all is well except for my little quirks, irritable behaviour which is increasing. My carcinoma stuff is currently well within background! So far so good, all will get more confused.

As I go down the memory lane, I remember many things that I achieved. My thoughts go to five years back but suddenly I remember my childhood for a couple of years in Ahmednagar. Sometimes I remember my growing up in Mumbai in Dhobi Talao area. Other times I think of my favourite things. One thing is for sure I also remember the writer’s block that I used to get; but as I am nearing fifty that phase seems to be tapering  off. Why my thoughts are veering today, I don’t know. Now I suddenly remember my departed friend from Chaupati who died when we were in school. I then remember some incident from Sunshine Villas where we normally live. Now I feel like thanking my mother, why did I suddenly remember her! Then I am reminded of a friend of mine who has settled in the US. Oh my god! Suddenly I am thinking of Osama, then again I have bit of block but I overcome it when I remember my favourite things.

My mind goes in different direction and I think of Anna Hazare. Now my mind switches to people behaviour and Aaron Shwartz comes to mind. What is happening to me? Am I really going crazy? How is it possible because according some of the people close to me, I am already crazy! Now I have a mental block, I don’t think I will be able to complete this blog. I am thinking of some incident which is forty years old, I am worried about state of our nation. I suddenly remember experience shared by a friend of mine. Now I am thinking about human nature and then back to the state of the nation. Am I awake or I am dreaming? Why  my dreams are changing so swiftly on varied subjects.

My mind switches to industry, then Parijataka flowers, to my good old friend Suhas Urf Suya Kulkarni. Then to life and death, whatsapp/facebook, remember an old song Que Sera Sera, thinks of death, gets irritated by media, shocked by major blunder by Volkswagen. I feel like sharing my illness with my friends and how we overcame the stress as a family.

Friends don’t worry, most of the adjectives mentioned above will stick to me anyway. But dementia is not what is around. When I was talking of turning 50, it is the number of blogs that I could churn out over last five years. It seems that the consistency is improving and now I don’t have to worry about writer’s block, hopefully. All the crazy thought processes from my mind that I mentioned were the “subjects” on which I wrote 49 blogs!

Now this is the 50th! Happy 50th blog to me! May many more come from my pen er Laptop. It will be a great joy to me if I am able to continue with the current consistency. I also hope that those who have been encouraging me, to write more will keep on doing so. Thanks Jaya, Sachin, Deepti, Sonya, Shashi and many more. Cheers! Sonya hope this event will encourage you to start writing consistently! Go for it man!

Myths of the Dance of Democracy!

India just finished general election for the year 2014. This election was “marketed” by TRP hungry media as Dance of Democracy! It was a Dance no doubts.

Indian elections get analysed in India by so-called experts in details same as the so-called share market experts! There have been so many theories to explain many things happening in the election. Some of them have almost become myths. Have those myths gone for a toss? Here are a few of them.

The biggest myth is that Indian politics and voting patterns are governed by vote banks, caste equations. This was supposedly happening all these years, especially in Northern India. How do the experts explain the results from UP, the cauldron of caste politics? 73 out of 80 seats are taken by BJP+ ! Where is Mayawati’s power, Mulayam’s strength? Have they lost these supernatural powers overnight? Same Dalits, Muslims and so-called downtrodden have they suddenly deserted their bosses, en mass and voted for BJP?

India is looking for criminal free, corruption free society is another myth. I think 35% plus newly elected MP’s have a criminal background! Where is AAP? Four seats!! Even Congress with so many mistakes, frauds, scams managed only 50  seats!! What happened to the euphoria of last year? Now no one including Anna Hazare is talking of Lokpal bill! Have they forgotten about it? I think the main reason for last years euphoria was that there was a lame duck Government in Delhi which could take no action (or was afraid to do so) against the agitators who took the law into their hands. It was more of a Governance issue.

Another myth is that so-called crusaders or strong candidates may lose the election but with a reasonable fight. How do you explain the loss of deposit for (32 Crore) Shazia Ilmi, Congress blue-eyed boy Salman Khurshid, Vishwas in Amethi?

One significant point that needs to be pondered. Votes in Orissa for Patnaik due to decent policies is understandable. But how do you explain Mamta Banerjee and Jayalalitha winning so strongly! Andhra area is currently highly emotional due to split, so it is understandable. But Bengal and Tamilnadu are they sitting in their own cocoon? Are they yet open to the idea of India? Friends, please comment on this aspect which I am not able to understand.

Here is my take on myths. People may say anything about Congress Government and their governance. But during last 10/15 years because of the mobile revolution, IT & TV revolution in India, tools were made available to people all over India, to really know what is going on in all parts of India rather than their own area. Their obvious conclusion was Congress was not good enough which reflected in the result. Probably the same tools in people’s hand helped them take a decision in favour of development rather than their caste! With no such tools available previously, people’s thoughts were restricted to their close vicinity and people used to think about their Biradari rather than thinking universally. This probably explains the changes that have happened. Salman Khurshid & Vishwas were perhaps punished for arrogance, Ilmi was thought of like an imposter!

I am sure more myths have got created in this election too! One of them could be “Now we have Modi the Superman!” Please let us not develop such legends and then get disappointed later. This world is beautiful, but it is also very tough and cruel. Managing India is no joke. Let us hope that the Indian economy which is that bottom at this stage, will only go up aided by sound policies and governance. Let us not expect that suddenly everything will change. Give apro Narendra Bhai some time!!

Mother of All mothers!!

I read a comment by an Indian about noise pollution during Diwali!! I 100% agree that nobody really cares about the noise in India. I read this comment on Facebook.

But based on that comment another person commented, “I hate every single day or moment in India!!”

Wow, I really enjoy such comments. The second person to my knowledge has spent all first 25 plus years in India and has moved to the USA recently. I am really amazed that people hate the place where they are born and brought up.

What was that person doing in India all these years? Why hang around in the place one hates? The person forgets that India has “made” them.
What has India done for such persons?
  • Give them primary education almost for FREE
  • Taught them to respect others and elders
  • Has provided a culture where it is challenging to become an addict of bad things because of culture at home. Let me tell you this person is a cultured person.
  • Taught them patience, humility
  • Showed them to manage within means (no subprime issues!!)
  • Provided them best possible weather (Oh I hate the Sun! Talk of this after staying in Boston)
  • Taught them how to live in democratic anarchy
  • Showed them what free world is
  • Taught them how to keep things working even though outsiders feel that they are not working
  • Taught them to create corrupt politicians (Which country does not have corrupt politicians?)
  • Taught them how to put them in jail
  • Showed them to survive as a country with more than one billion people
  • Given to them worst possible infrastructure and is struggling to become world class
  • Has overcome communal violence where 180 million Muslims live in peace with 800 million-plus Hindus
You don’t HATE your parents because they are not world class! You don’t HATE your parents because they make noise while eating! You don’t HATE them because they burp.
What have you done to help your parents to become world class? What have you done to reduce noise pollution during Diwali? Have you ever done anything for your motherland?
Don’t forget that your motherland is your mother’s mother!! She will forgive you all your utterances and deeds. She is, after all, mother of all mothers!! She has large enough stomach to gulp all such thoughts and statements and gulp them.
And on top of that, she will bless you to prosper where ever you are!! (and become world class- she has made your basics strong isn’t it?)
God bless all such children of India!

Heil Anna!!

Before you lynch me for the worst sin “Talking against Anna” let me tell you that I am pleased that we finally have someone who is talking against corruption and doing it persistently. I am not speaking against Anna but giving reported statements verbatim.

Usually, it is fashionable to talk on such subjects in Five Star environments or TV shows maybe followed by Cocktails and Dinner. Anna has brought this out to street level which a great achievement.

The title only reflects the reaction to the statements. It does not reflect my opinion on Anna, but I hope the Anna team shows some humility in future.

  1. Anna is India and India is Anna
  2. Lokpal bill Lao ya jao
  3. I will leave Ramlila ground only after Jan Lokpal bill is passed
  4. Why has Delhi corporation not kept Ramlila ground clean after rains? Only 70000 people were there on the ground!
  5. How could you arrest Anna? (The law should have been changed, maybe!! Remember that Indira Gandhi our mere ex prime Minister was arrested and jailed by Janata Govt during her Satyagraha)
  6. I don’t believe in Govt, they will not pass the bill
  7. Anna needs to fast even when there is Red Alert declared in Delhi for 15th August
  8. Also if Prime minister comes, I will not withdraw my fast until Janlokpal bill is passed in Parliament. I can die, but I will not bend

Anna’s Lokpal Bill

Anna wave or storm has hit India. At last something has started stirring people to think. I hope its effect is like a tsunami and it just throws aside or sinks corruption. But it is not as simple as that. Nothing in life is!!

If someone thinks that India is going to change overnight by Anna’s fast at Ramlila or where ever, they are sadly mistaken. Anna is a force that is showing us the way but its a longhaul for all of us. What was discussed all these days on TV by the gliterrati and by you and me over a glass of what ever poison we like, has come out in open. The common man is now discussing these things over a cuppa, at the thela!! The common man has finally realized that there is something definitely wrong with our society. Hopefully the scepticism is going and blaming the karma will also go over a period.

He or she is hoping that the magic wand that Anna has will change everything when they get up the next morning. No it is not going to happen that way. It is for you and me to make it happen. We will have to discard a lot of things that are embedded in our DNA.

Here is the magic  potion that we should create and drink (like they do in comics) to make things happen.

First and foremost take an oath that I will never give or take a bribe. (Oh my god! I thought I was not a problem,  yes you are, all of us are!!) Sounds very tough but this has to be done. Like charity the change also must start with you. If one is not true to oneself how we can blame others. Corruption is both physical as well as in mind. We need to tackle both these corruptions.

When you go to an office for some work, talk nicely to the person you meet and speak to the point. If he throws obstacles at you tell him that you are going to meet his boss and meet the boss!! If you reach a dead end, now days there are enough news papers which want such stories, go to them and let me tell you they will publish your story. But dont take this route just for the heck of it, do it only if it is a genuine issue. This method can be used in your day to day dealings too.

If for some mistake of yours a policeman stops you and you think you are right, politely but firmly argue with him. But if you are at a fault please pay the fine and do not bribe him ( you have now taken the oath!)

A society in which there is day to day corruption, is the one that is most difficult to correct. When we go to rationing office, we have to pay Rs.100/ for getting some small thing done when it is our right, that person in that office does our work. We get a good road with a neat foothpath; next day there will be hawkers on the foothpath and no authority will bother them (because they take cuts from these hawkers). We need to change such things. Lokpal bill is not going change this, it is you and me who have to change these things.

We are on the road and late for a destination. What do we do? Blatantly pass thru Red signal! You are at a signal, there are ten seconds for green light. Suddenly 30/40 % people will decide to pass thru the red signal. We should change this. Lokpal bill is not going to change this!

We reach a signal and stop. Suddenly windows are down for many cars and people start spitting! This is mental corruption. We need to stop this.

Go to a railway station; you will see people crossing the tracks. I can never understand how people are not bothered about their own lives. This is mental corruption.

All over the world there is corruption in large deals. The deal maybe for Planes, Ships, Weapons and chances are that in most of them there will be cuts involved. Generally in such deals if value of the contract is X for a quality Y, then deal maybe made for X plus 10% for quality Y.

But take cases that happen in India where the deal in which value of contract is X  for quality Y, deal maybe settled for X minus 30%, for quality Y minus 50%. Amount spent will be X minus 60%! This means that somebody takes a cut and that too for extremely inferior items supplied! Imagine that this is done in life saving drugs where people can die! We need to kill this corruption first and foremost; these people are killers!

My dear friends, we are lucky to have Anna amongst us. He is showing us the path, he is our light at the end of the tunnel. Please take this opportunity and try to change things in a small way. Hundreds of people doing this small change can turn the tide of bad things that are blatantly done in our Bharat desh. But remember that it is you and me who are going to change things and not the Lokpal bill!!