Sunday, 31 July 2011

Destiny.. the journey to within..

                        Destiny - The journey to within-

It was an odd path and that was certainly an odd junction. Standing near the  distorted rusty rail, Anuradha felt a feeling of exaltation as she hasn’t felt for a long time. The type that has your chest opening up to the wind leaving a longing to hug the world all around you. The type she hasn’t felt since childhood. The train was due in ten minutes. People were hurrying to the main platform. Tired looking, women in faded rajasthani skirts, some with children tugging along with them. Men looking grave in turbans. She followed them to the Main platform to wait for Rathnasagar Express. The train that will take her to Ranthambore.

      May be it was the thrill of going to a totally new place. Or the fact that for the first time in her life, she was completely free. With no one she knew around her, no commitments, no expectations, no self made constraints and with  no serious plans for future. She felt weightless- and even the crowded train and the fact that she hadn’t managed to get a seat yet was not able to dampen her mood. Everything was exhilarating. The greenery that slowly paved it way to dry paddy fields. Sun light creeping into the train, and the light wind that played with her duppatta.
    
    She had first read about ‘Ranthambore’ in article in a local magazine. It was written by lady journalist who had been there to study about the thriving coal business. But it had turned out to be an article in women empowerment as well. The journalist had devoted quite some space to discuss the woes of the women working there. Their ability to cope up with even the most difficult work which was typically done by men. But Ranthambore was a poverty stricken village-the draught hadn’t left anything much for the villagers. So every bit of money earned, had counted even if it was earned by their womenfolk. The article had immensely attracted Anuradha. The 11.15 shift of the work and very short intervals in between had certainly applied to her aesthetic sense. 

            Rathnasagar express began his journey uphill the Nanda hill tracks. Ranthambore was just on the other side of the Nanda hills. Instead of cutting a tunnel through it, Government had opted for a twisted rail track hoping it would attract more Tourism.
   As the train became nearer to Ranthambore, Anuradha began to feel nervous. Will I be able to fit in? Also there was the problem of communication. How will she understand her supervisor or fellow workers? She knew absolutely no Rajasthani and her Hindi and Tamil were limited. But .She wanted to put her very soul into work. Her complete, undivided attention, concentration and dedication. To do something perfectly for the first time in life. To feel competent for the first time in life. To experience that joy that comes from a job perfectly done. That feeling of worthiness. To stand proudly before life and feel that she has earned every bit of that.
      Train slowed in to a station. It was MeshaKott. Ranthambore was the next station. Anu gathered her things. She didn’t have many things with her as she was planning to do her shopping from Ranthambore. She wanted to purchase the type of dress the womenfolk there, especially the coal workers wore.

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 P.S.1. To be continued...

 P.S.2.  My first attempt at a novel. I know people generally start by writing short stories and then expand to novels. But I am doing it  the reverse way. I was hesistant to start writing because  I read a lot. I was afraid that things I read will uncosciously make its way into my writing, making it a work of plagiarism. Hope this write-up is okay.



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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Keralites deserve all this and much more..

Once up on a time, Kerala was god's own country. We had good climate, scenic, beautiful landscape, plenty of rivers, educated and cultured people. We had everything. Then we sold our souls to Satan. The details of when and where this happened and what we got in return are not clear. If Kerala had a patron saint, I would imagine him to be like Dhritharashtrar. We know things, but we pretend not to know, prefer not to see. We are content curling up in our comfort zone and being easy chair philosophers.
   Let us analyse the present scenario. The number one red zone is how Keralites treat their sisters, mothers and daughters. While it is true that we don't necessarily kill our girl child, the Kerala society does everything it can to make their life miserable. Recently, a girl called Thasni banu was attacked for travelling late at night with her colleague. Moral policing at its height! I have been living in Tamil Nadu for nearly 3 years now and I don't have any complaints about the people here. I have travelled alone, travelled late @ night. But I have never encountered any problem. While in Kerala, it not advisable for a lady to travel alone after, let us say, 7.30. p.m. Even in broad daylight, girls encounter problems in Kerala. As a high school girl, my friends and I used to prefer walking 2 kilometres than boarding the local bus.
  Then there is case of our so called secularism. Fortunately, its facade slipped away during the last elections. We gladly sold our votes to religion and caste. I would say it is worse than selling our votes for money. The people who sell their votes for money do it because of their helplessness and also because they don't know better. But we know better. Yet we are not ashamed of doing that.
    Another serious concern is the increasing inaccessibility of education for the poor. While it is true that the church played a crucial role in educating Keralites in their early days, now it has become nothing more than a  greedy  money-oriented corporation. I am remembering the tale from bible where Jesus drove the buyers and sellers out of the church. What would he do if he sees the thriving education business going on in Kerala under his name? And the government lacks the political will to take tough measures which is not surprising seeing as how the church sponsored their ascend to power.
      Hmm. Then there is our so called 'Intelligent main stream' film. It is totally pointless to blame producers and actors for the lack of good films. The bitter and difficult to digest truth is that, the taste of the Malayali audience has changed. We no longer want to see good films. I should say, our taste reflects what we have become.
   If Kerala still retains the title of 'God's own country', it is because of the scenic beauty of our land God unwittingly endowed us with. Rest assured! It is a work in progress! We are doing all what we can to destroy it. First there is Mathikettan, then Munnar... (I don't know the latest  ...don't read much of Malayalam newspapers nowadays)
    What I feel is, we are a society of pseudoes. We are pseudo secularists; we have pseudo morals and we are totally two faced people. But what I am wondering is, when and where and why this transformation occurred? Is there a way to buy back our souls like in the movie 'Ghost rider' where devil offers a chance to buy back the human's soul?
   Pour in your thoughts. I am curious.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sree Padmanabha Temple Treasure

 In Malayalam, my mother tongue, there is a saying "Deepasthambam Mahashcharyam; Enickum Kittanam Panam". It roughly translates to "The light house is great! Give money to me as well". The context of the story is something like this. The old king of travencore constructed a new light house and invited his courtiers to see that. The greedy courtiers began to praise the king and the light house hoping to get money by pleasing the king. They even wrote poems praising the light house. The court jester alone remained silent. When the king asked his opinion, he simply said the above written lines revealing the greed and insincerity of his fellow courtesans.
        If you are wondering why I am narrating this old story, I was reminded of these lines while watching the fiasco over Sree Padmanabha Temple treasure recently discovered in Kerala.The treasure was found while opening the century’s old vaults in Sree Padmanabha Temple. Lord Padmanabha is the family deity of the Travencore Royals, who submitted their state to Lord and ruled as his representatives taking the name Sree Padmanabha Dasa ( Servants Of Lord Padmanabha). Even though the royal family was aware of the immense wealth in the temple vaults, they didn't use it for their purposes, but remained faithful guardians of the wealth. The vaults were only opened recently following a court order.
        Once the contents of the vaults were known, chaos reigned. Each and everybody were laying their claim in the wealth. And every Tom, Dick and Harry pronounced their opinion on the topic. But underlying most of these sentiments was bare, pure greed. The only exception being the Royal family who said that they don't need any part of the wealth and that the wealth belongs to Lord Padmanabha only.
         It was quite amusing to watch total frauds who have never done an action of charity in their life talking about how the wealth must be utilised for the poor people. (As if they are unaware of the fact that we are living in India and money would never reach the needy hands). Some people were saying that money should be given to Keralites because it was discovered in a Kerala temple. Some of them were even more specific saying that money should be distributed among people belonging to the old Travencore kingdom (Wow! What an idea Surjiii!) Then again, there is a section of really patriotic people saying that we should sell these ancient heirlooms and use that money to eradicate poverty in India. Sure, next we can sell off Taj Mahal. It would surely purchase quite some money! Many people in Kerala and around are losing their sleep worrying over what to do with the treasure .The only people sleeping peacefully are those who don’t want any piece of treasure. All in all, the most humorous thing is, the treasure is roughly estimated to be 1 lakh crore Rupees while the loss Indian treasury incurred due to 2G scam alone is 2 lakh crore. Looks like even the richest of the god can't compete with our politicians.
         One thing that amazed me all throughout the entire fiasco is people's greed. Even some of my well-to-do colleagues wanted a part of the share. They don't pause to think if they deserve the money, or if they really need it. They need more and more money, whether they deserve it or not. That is all.
       Anyway,  the only  thing that worries me is, Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple is a really beautiful, calm, serene temple. But I am afraid that the temple will lose all these soon. It will get filled with treasure hunters and curious travellers. The sincere devotees will have to barge in their way through the crowd.

P.S:  A forwarded SMS. Sree padmanabha calls up the deity of Sabarimala, the Lord Ayyappa and tells him: “If u have any valuables, hide it away quickly. The looters just took everything of mine!"


Fighting Communalism

 After the recent Mumbai blasts, the general mood of the public is one of despair and hopelessness and acceptance of the fact that with every step, we Indians are taking a chance. The government applauds the spirit of the Mumbaikars yet again and (As if they have any choice other than to move on!) and continue to make stupid statements like "There is no intelligence failure"(hmmm, intelligence failure occurs only if there is any intelligence to begin with!)  And "The terrorists had the advantage of surprise (Good one, Mr. MMS!). Now, even if the government enhanced the security and acted tough and efficient (which is expecting too much), it does not address the basic issue, the root cause. That there are Indians working against India, trying to destroy their country.
       We, the general public can do a lot to fight the existing terrorists and to prevent the creation of new terrorists. After all, they come from us, they were people among us, people like us. We can fight corruption, poverty, lack of development and just about everything provided we stand together. But communalism prevents the very idea of standing together. The question is how can we fight it-how can we prevent more terrorists from being made. If people among us are turning terrorists, it is our own failure.
      The need of the hour is for people to have a scientific / rational temperament. Statistically, I am an Indian and Hindu. But that is not my identity. My identity is that of a free independent human being. I didn't have a choice in any of these matters and anything that is not my choice, does not define me. Being an Indian or a keralite or a Hindu are just my circumstances. (I love my country/state/religion, but that does not define me, that’s all) The trouble with most people is that, they confuse their circumstances with their identity. Society also plays a major role in it. When society looks @ a person, it does not see or acknowledge A or B as they are. They are identified or judged by their religion/caste/nationality. Thus people are forced by society into accepting a social identity. Instead of squeezing ourselves   into these readymade robes, we have to create our own identity.
       Let us take the case of a Hindu/Muslim/or any other believer. From childhood itself, he/she grows up worshipping their deity and that belief is deeply embedded in them. They grow up hearing all the good things about their religion and little/false things about the other religions. So naturally, when they grow up, they think that their religion is the best or even worse, that it is the only true one! Seriously, how stupid can human beings get?
       We teach our kids science and history and even religion. But we do not teach them to think rationally, independently and scientifically. They are learning science, but the spirit of science is lacking. The world will become a better place only when individuals are able to think rationally.
       We can try to be rational and scientific. Also, next time we see a person, let us not judge him/her by their circumstances. Let us try to see the human being inside. Let us also encourage them to think rationally. We may not be able to convert existing terrorists. But we will be able to prevent more terrorists from being made.