Monday, November 7, 2011

"Jai Shree Raam"

Taking clues from the title you may be expecting a serious article on "Hinduism", Ram Janma Bhoomi issue or BJP & the politics involved. If so, you are in for a surprise because I am about to tell you a funny story from my childhood which even today makes me laugh each time I think about it. On a serious note, the incident also highlights the impact of television media on children's perceptions. The thought of writing this article came to my mind, when I went to my Buaa ji's place this Diwali and saw my nephews watching Cartoon Network showing animated versions of Indian mythological stories (Chhota Bhim, Krishna etc.)

I distinctly remember that every Sunday, Ramayan used to be aired on Doordarshan around at 10:00 am. My family used to stay in a small town called "Kurara" that time and we used to stay in a small two room set on the roof of a "Daal mill". On Sunday all workers of the mill will come to our house to watch Ramayana. My mom will ensure that we had taken a bath before 10:00 am. 10-15 minutes before the Ramayana, everyone will do a small "Aarti" in front of the black and white Onida TV set and then everyone will say in unison, "Jai Shree Raam". (A tangential thought comes to my mind that if Ramayana was never screened on Doordarshan, would Ram Janma Bhoomi Aandolan of BJP have got the same support from Hindu section of the Indian society?)

When Ramayana used to be aired, it would seem as life in the town had come to a standstill. The streets would become empty. I remember my mother used to tell me mythological stories before sleep. We used to make bows and arrows of plywood, Bamboos and used them as toys. I would play character of Laxman, another friend of mine will become Ram. We would go and hunt Ravan and Rakshas Sena (Demon Army) then. I was in class 4th then.

Once day, my mom and dad had to go somewhere for some work. I and my sister were left at home. We were given one rupee each. But the doors of the mill were closed from all the sides and we were locked inside. We had two big roofs (each around 7200 square feet big in area) at our disposal to play whatever game we wanted. But I desperately wanted to eat a toffee called "Swaad", which was very popular back then. It did not use to be sweet but had a different taste which would make your eyes pop out of their sockets and corrode the upper surface of your palate.

What do I do? I was locked. So I decided to use my lateral thinking or creativity whatever you term it as and decided to jump from the roof. The height of the roof must have been around 40 feet. It may sound suicidal now but I had a logic supporting my idea of jumping from the roof!!! At one side on the ground, there were many heaps of river sand. I thought, it will serve as enough cushion for me. My sister, who is one year younger to me, started crying as soon she figured out what I was about to do. She tried to hold me back but I was physically stronger than her, therefore her attempts were unsuccessful. As I reached near the edge to jump, I became terrified looking at the distance of the ground and decided to discard the idea of jumping and rather wait for my parents to return. But then this friend who used to play "Raam" came there and asked what I was planning to do. After hearing my he said that, "you say 'Jai Shree Raam' loudly before you jump and nothing will happen to you". I told him that it is not going to be helpful. He tried to convince me that Lord Rama will definitely protect me and for a moment I also believed him. And then as an obedient brother "Laxman" to my brother "Raam" (in this case my friend), I jumped from the roof shouting "Jai Shree Raam" loudly. I still remember the moments when I was in the air. I remember to have thought about Newton and his apple of enlightenment. And I also remember the pain after I had reached the ground on my back. As it turned out since it had rained two days ago, the sand had become hard. This was something I had not considered. Still sand served as a minor cushion and I had only minor injuries. I was lying there still for 5-6 minutes and then tried to get myself up. My back was aching but temptation of buying a "Swaad" had not ended yet. I went to the nearest shopkeeper bought a "Swaad". My nose was bleeding and the shopkeeper asked me to lie down. By then my parents had returned and my sister had told them the full story. They came running to the shopkeeper's house and then took me to a doctor.

There were only minor injuries and next day I was able to go to school. But everyone at school had come to know about my adventure in advance and I had become a common subject to mockery. When in my class my teacher asked about the incident, I had to twist the description of the incident by mentioning that my sister had pushed me by mistake and therefore I fell from the roof.

But today when I think about this incident, I think that for a moment I believed what my friend said, that Lord Rama will definitely protect me. Even today when someone asks me even if I have ever told lies in my life, I always remember about what I told to my teacher about my sister pushing me off the edge of the roof. Even while I was filling forms for some MBA entrance interviews, I thought about this story multiple numbers of times. It may sound funny today but watching "Ramayana" on Doordarshan had impacted me a great deal.

This Diwali, when I saw my two year old nephew watching mythological series on Cartoon Network (CN) in animated form, with Lord Krishna flying and fighting Demons(As I heard from my cousin who told me that they are crazy about these episodes), I wondered how it would impact him. In Doordarshan days, these demons were shown mostly in human form, though very big in size with magical powers. But now Demons were mostly in anthropomorphic form with faces of wolves etc. Animation has opened multiple possibilities in portrayal of mythological stories. I am sure with kids getting more access to television than ever; a more pronounced imagery the impact will be even more on children. I am not suggesting that they will do anything as silly as I did. It is also necessary to mention that I was also impacted in a very positive manner by the mythological stories. They were my first reference to relationships in a family, moral code of the society, perfection of a human and even politics. I am sure these children will also be impacted positively by it. But it will be interesting to see, how it helps to shape their perception about various things in life because I am hundred percent sure about one thing that It will definitely have a role in it. On the finishing note, I wonder if today's children will be subject to an information overload by television and if their perceptions about things will be more flexible than ours.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Technology & Human beings (i phone 4GS)

Steve Jobs died today !!! He was someone who has impacted our day to day life, even if many of us don't possess a Macbook, iphone,ipad or an ipod. When I heard the news, I felt that the world has lost someone who was a guiding force. I felt sorry as if I had lost someone very familiar. I opened Facebook and found out as expected that many of us felt the same way. I would be very happy and satisfied with my life, if on the last day of it, I know that I have created even 1/10000th of the impact that he has created on human life today.

Incidentally yesterday only Apple launched iphone 4GS. I had thought of writing this post prior to today's tragic news. I was watching the demo of i-phone yesterday and was awestruck to see the changes that this technology can bring to human life. I mean people can buy an omniscient & never forgetting assistant for themselves. Its like you have got a Genie for yourself. In last 10 years, the internet has impacted our lives drastically. Google has virtually precluded the need to remember anything. I think about the time when people with good memory, knowledge of things had a distinct advantage over others but that advantage has diminished in the past few years since information is everywhere spread on internet now.

This led me to thinking of the way in which human has changed because of its inventions. Our ancestors possessed great physical strength. They had to protect themselves from wild animals and had to hunt for food themselves. At that time people with higher physical strength were leaders of the group. Then the fire weapons were invented which obviated need for physical strength. Then Strategic & political skills, vision provided people edge over others. Simultaneously physical strength of average human also decreased. After further progress of Science and specially after invention of Computer importance of mental skills increased. People who possessed great intelligence got an edge over others. But because of the lack of physical activity various lifestyle diseases became prevalent. Then the Gyms became popular. People started going to gym to keep themselves fit.

I was wondering with the current invention of Apple and many such future enhanced versions need to remember, even calculate or applying logic will be obviated. For instance if I am working in Corporate Banking, my future phone will be capable of remembering various techniques, calculations that I do in my mind currently and it will do them for me. My life will become very comfortable. But with this kind of invention, we will hardly exercise our mind. Then some diseases like amnesia may become prevalent. On some day a concept of Mental gym will come in.
In these mental gyms you will possibly go after coming from work and solve a sudoku puzzle to keep your mind fit. Well, you may say that this is my wild imagination which to certain extent it actually is, I wouldn't agree though that it is impossible to happen in our lifetime.

Technology has impacted us greatly in past few years. But because of technological inventions if human capability to think diminishes, the technology itself will thwart its progress. What will that human be then? I mean the devices like iphone 4GS will become our need rather than luxuries that they are today !!! You can again say that this is a far fetched conclusion, I wouldn't disagree to that. But I am sure you will see some merit in my argument. I just wonder that the world may never remain the same after Apple iphone 4GS ;-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ambition Vs. Pleasure of Small things

The city that never sleeps can challenge your basic belief system of life. The mad rush that starts with the ringing of the door by maid ends only at the night when you watch an episode of Friends or listen to some soft music. Sometimes this continues even in the dreams despite all the palliatives.

The last paragraph pretty much sums up my first few days at Mumbai. Coming from a middle class background and from a small city, I always derived pleasure from small things. Sometimes from a cup of Ginger tea, from the dim light of lantern when there is a power cut, from the deep silence at 11 pm in the night, from the noise of a Baraat, from the chants of Shlokas at the temple nearby, from the little drops of rain on the window pane. But city that never sleeps does not appreciate the concept of "Small". Here "Unlimited" is the best way to live.

Some people say that the city inspires you to achieve the maximum. And everyone in the city is after that "Maximum". Is this the basic nature of Human beings? Are we inherently ambitious? Or it is the effect of times that we live in?

In my opinion there is a Dichotomy in this aspect of life as well. Either a man can choose to be ambitious or he can decide to live peacefully. And the good thing is that he can be happy both ways. But if he is ambitious he should be aware of the fact that he is ambitious.

Because If one is ambitious, he will have big Goals for himself. And given average luck that most of us have, he has to work hard in life to achieve those goals. If he does not work hard enough to fulfill his desires, there will always be a dissonance in his life. He will be happy at the end of the day only when he knows that he is giving his 100% to achieve what he wants to achieve. ( That is similar to Concept of "Karma Yoga")

On the other hand one who has decided to live and enjoy the peaceful life, will nevertheless enjoy his life. But there will be sometimes a dissonance when the thought will come to his mind that he has not done enough. But that day if he is aware that this is the choice he made for himself, he can be very happy.

Therefore the most important thing in life is to hold yourself responsible for your choices and act according to your choices.

Well, this seems a Matrix (Morpheus) like statement !!! But this is a very comforting thought as fast as I am concerned. I guess, I have slowly slowly started loving this city that never sleeps. And may be some day I will be saying, "Mumbai, Meri Jaan" !!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Silence of the Statues

There are 12 of them, all pointing to different directions. Their bodies are covered with Black cloth. Their hands are tied. Their faces are covered too, and there is rope around their neck. They seem like they are there to be hanged. They are standing there in the scorching sun when the mercury in thermometer reads 49 degree Celsius. They seem to be silent. The crows are flying above their heads not realising that they are just statues. They all stand in a park. The surrounding road is very busy with people running in their mad rush. They don’t pay attention to these statues any more. They are invisible to them.

When I passed through them, I heard someone crying. I thought to myself, the heat must have got on to me. I asked the auto driver to stop there. I heard a definite sob. Who was it? Who was crying? Suddenly I saw them, 12 of them, standing there, breaking their silence. My auto-driver was shouting at me: ”Sahab 50 Rs.mein Idhar dhoop mein rukna nahee chalega”. I ignored the sob and came back to my place.

Later I found that these statues were built to represent the glory of our mother nation, India. The hard-earned money of the Indian taxpayer was wasted on them like water. There were multiple corruption scandles and many people made fortunes in the process. The end result was a case in the inefficient judicial system of India, which put a stay on inauguration of these statues. The motive behind the case filed was the struggle for political mileage between different parties of Indian political system. In a country where the eighth wonder of the world can become a reason for dispute, this was a complete non-issue.

In a far village, a child was waiting for his father to return. A case had been registered in the local Kotwali that a man, who had gone to the city to build the monument of Indian glory, was missing. Some of the other workers say that he had gone mad before he was missing one morning from their tent near the construction site. They say that he sometimes used to wake up in the night and start to utter random things. Some say that he talked about selling one of his kidneys to pay the fees of his child’s education. Some say he had died but sometimes he could be seen near those statues. Some others say that he had become one of the statues.

I again went again to that place the next day. I found that one of the statues was covered in blood. Onlookers said there was a man there in the morning crying. But I could still see a man standing there and pointing his fingers at me.

Later that night I had a dream, where the same man came to me and said," I don’t need any sympathies from you. You are also a part of the system. Because you ignored me when you could have made a difference!!!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You must not necessarily follow !!!

The packet of Wills Classic had just been finished. It was the World Environment Day. Those few, who cared about the environment were requested to switch off all the electric appliances and lights in their houses, between 8 to 9 pm. It was 8:30 pm. Pari and Rahul were sitting in the Balcony. Pari was playing guitar and Rahul was singing. For the month of June, It was a beautiful weather. It had rained some hours ago and mild breeze was blowing in the balcony. The smell of first showers was still in the atmosphere. The scene from balcony consisted of a park and many multi-storied buildings.

It was a pleasant break from their daily routines. For last some days, Rahul had started feeling that his life was empty. It was the same office, same friends, same bus, same piece of software code, same everything daily. His life of so full yet empty. He wanted something else. He felt that he was going nowhere.

The maid had not come that day. Pari had cooked Khichdi. Rahul and Pari(Paritosh) had become good friends in last 2 months, after Pari had come to the apartment as Rahul's new roommate. Rahul today wanted to cry. He wanted to tell Pari about his pain. But he had no words to describe the same. He himself did not know what was causing the pain.

After the session of Guitar and songs, Rahul and Pari had dinner together. It was 1:00 am and Rahul came back to his room to sleep. He had to wake up early in the morning. He tried to sleep but he could not. He got up and started thinking about what he really wanted to do. He wanted excitement in his life. He desperately needed a feeling that he was moving ahead in life. He thought about his career and then, in a flash thought of doing an MBA came to his mind. He rejected it completely at first. But then he mulled over it and decided to apply for the CAT coaching.

Ten months later, he got an offer letter from one of the premier Business Schools of the country. He was elated. He informed Pari about it. Pari was very happy. But he was also sad that he will loose a nice roommate who had become a very good friend. It was 8:30 pm. Pari asked Rahul to come along for a walk. They bought a cigarette on their way and went to the park nearby. Pari told Rahul about all the Booze parties and life style in the premier Business Schools of the country. He said, "Fod dena Dost". Rahul and Pari came to their apartment and then they had a Guitar session at the balcony.

Some days later, the day came when Rahul was leaving the apartment. Pari came to his room and wrote on his his wall with paint, "You must Follow". He said to Rahul that he would like others also to find out what they really wanted to do in their life and move ahead. Rahul told Pari that that was the lucky room of the apartment and everyone who stayed there, moved to a better place in his life. He jokingly suggested Pari that he should shift to that room. Pari said that he was happy with his life and he had all what he want. Then they bid good bye to each other.

Two years later, Rahul had completed his MBA. He went back and met Pari. He found that Pari was almost the same as before. That night they played Guitar. They went for a walk. They again smoked a cigarette together. Pari cooked Khichdi. Next day, Rahul had to go to Mumbai to join a big renowned consultancy firm. Pari was sleeping when he was leaving. There was a smile of Pari's face. Rahul did not want to wake him up. He saw a box of paint kept in the corner of the apartment.

He went to his old room and wrote two more words. Now the message read, "You must not necessarily follow". Rahul smiled and left the apartment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Complan Boy

It had been a hectic trip before that Shared Auto ride from Konch to Ait (2 Small towns of Uttar Pradesh). The trip eased my mood a bit and my head was also aching lesser now. The sun had almost set. It was a huge plain landscape. There were fields on both the sides, which had heaps of already cut wheat crops kept stacked in them. Mild breeze was blowing and there were no other vehicles on the road. The Auto driver was playing "Sheila ki Jawani" and some remix songs which ideally were not suited to the ambiance but nevertheless, I liked the experience.

At the end of this 18 KM trip, I reached the Ait Railway station. It was one of the smallest stations that I had seen before. There were no lights on the platform. Only a small lantern was lit in the Station master's room. I went and sat on a bench and took a deep breath. I looked around and noticed that there were hardly 4-5 passengers on the platform. I was very hungry and thirsty. At first it seemed like, I would not get anything to eat or drink there. Later I saw a hawker at the end of the platform with his "Thela", containing some biscuits, Laddoos, Gulab Jamuns and Samosas. Amongst all of those previously unknown Brands, I found Britannia "Time pass" Biscuits and bought a packet of the same. I came back and went to the Station master's room and en-quired about the train timings. He did not say anything. But he switched a Button on which led to lighting of two CFLs at the station and the station was lit now, though poorly.

I looked around and saw a boy curiously looking at me. He seemed to be well fed but was wearing very dirty clothes. I had already eaten a quarter of my Britannia biscuits when he signaled to me that he was hungry and wanted something to eat. I was hungry but I decided to give the rest of my packet to the boy. As I went near him, a foul smell came from him. I gave him rest of the biscuits and quickly came back to my seat. The boy ate all the biscuits in no time at all and then he even ate from the ground whatever had fallen out of the packet while he was eating at first. I noticed that the boy was wearing his pant inside out and there was a lot of dirt on it. The boy then lied down on the platform and laughed. He started moving his body as if he was doing butterfly strokes on the platform. Then he looked at me and laughed again. I was reading something but was not able to concentrate and was noticing him.

Suddenly there was a lot of hustle-bustle on the platform and a bell was hit by the son of Station master. It was a sign that some train was reaching the station. The boy stood up and became a little curious. As the train arrived, a lot of Samosa vallahs, Chai Vallahs, Cold drink vallahs attacked the train as if this was their only chance to earn some money through out the day. I thought they deserved to sell their cold drink at more than MRP irrespective of what the law says. I looked around but could not find the boy. For a moment I thought if the boy was actually there or I had just imagined him.

Then, I located him looking at a compartment with curiosity. He seemed to be meditating. Dogs had surrounded him from all sides. He looked at the platform gate and then at the Station Master. Then he looked at me and smiled. He kept looking at me, and I felt very weird. Then the train started moving, the boy jumped and reached near the train. I thought that the boy will hurt himself. I approached him to save him but he ran faster and then Jumped in to a compartment. Standing at the gate he shouted, "I am a Complan Boy. I am a Complan boy". I looked at him, he seemed happy. I looked at the station master, He seemed happy.

I went to the Station master and asked him, who this boy was. He said nothing. He switched the lights off. Again there was only one lantern lit at the station. Only a Complan boy was missing from the platform.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

B2B ( Back 2 Blogging)

So here I start blogging again and I hope to be more regular from now onwards.

Since my last post, I have spent great time at XLRI Jamshedpur, memories of which will remain with me for ever. It was an immense learning experience and I also made some great friends. Last few days at the campus were very emotional, followed by an awesome trip to Goa. And then we received our degree on 26th of March, with our Convocation speaker Mr. Vineet Nayar ( Chairman and CEO of HCL Technologies, an alumnus of XLRI, Batch 1985) telling us to honestly assess ourselves and then to fly.

Then came the moment which filled the heart of now 1.21 million Indians with Joy, India won the ICC Cricket World Cup. I also went out on streets watching people hugging each other without even knowing them. The Bond, called Indianness that connects the hearts of denizens of Second most populous country of the world was on display. I also jumped, danced, laughed, shouted and hugged everyone. On our way back we found a severely injured person lying on the road in unconscious state. People were passing by completely ignoring his need for urgent medical attention. They were busy hugging each other and shouting, "Bharat Mata kee Jai". I and three of my friends stopped, admitted the person to the hospital and then came back to our place. I could not help thinking that this "Bond" called Indianness is only available in the comfort of Inaction. We can not act together on issues that matter to the nation most or even act sensibly as human being. We can sign virtual motions but when it comes to sacrifice our personal interest for a larger cause, most of us may turn a blind eye. Then I realized, that I may be thinking cynically, so I decided simply not to think, have a beer and sleep.

Days passed and more incidents took place. News papers have been filled with applaud for Charismatic leadership of Dhoni, Coach Gary Kirsten and Passion of Men in Blue. One thing that I liked the most, was from an interview of Gary Kirsten where he said that apart from planning and hard work the team Believed that they will win. they did not think about any other outcome. I am sure one of the factors of success of Team India in the recent past has been this "Belief" that they can win. We all can learn from it and apply it to our lives.

Then the news of Anna Hazare has flashed in the media. Again my email is filled with multiple mails to support the cause. BJP leaders and Baba Ramdev have been shown in the media meeting Anna. Headlines are, "Today I am also Anna". Everyone says that Corruption should end. I decided to call some of my acquaintances and asked them what they know about "Lokpal Bill". None of them knew about it. Yet they had sent me mails supporting Anna. I asked them if they made an effort to find out what the Bill is all about. They answered in negative. I thought that it is enough that they knew that the fight is against corruption. Then I received a call from one of my friends boasting about his "Miraculous" escape from a Traffic Police person at the expense of 50 rs. and then talking about Anna in the same breath, I thought that Corruption also is a Bond that Connects at least an optimistic figure of 90% of Indian population together. So even if someday, India doesnt win a world cup, terrorists don't attach Mumbai, We can remain together as Indians.

I again thought, I am being cynical. And hence I went for a walk and had Golgappas at a Kiosk on Jhansi streets. I am sure this delightful activity also connects a lot of people in our Fabulous country.