Tuesday, March 29, 2011

There is hope !

The last post was negative.  Whenever there is something negative, I search for something positive.  For negative energy is always bad.  So browsing I came across this. 

Chhavi Rajawat, is the sarpanch of Soda village, 60 kms from Jaipur, Rajasthan.  She left her job and opted to do something different.  Her father was sarpanch of the village before. 


I hope there will be more of Chavvi Rajawat's.  That the India to come will be stronger and more bold, empathizing with the have nots and building a country that is for all. 

An Encounter with a Policeman

Today morning, I was driving down to work.  I stopped at the junction leading towards Brooke Bond road for the policeman's hand signal.  The traffic signal was not on.  There were three two-wheelers in front of me.  Finally, the policeman allowed us to go.  The three two-wheelers went straight while I took the right turn.  Before I could pass, the policeman asked the oncoming traffic to come.  I had to brake as there were two wheelers in front of me before I could go.  I asked the policeman, very politely, 'Enna sir'? (What sir ?).  He started shouting at me.  I put up my hand in utter disgust as a sign of giving up and said, 'Eh ok' and kept coming.  At some other point of time, I would have stopped and questioned his right to shout at me when he had made a mistake and had put the lives of the two-wheelers as well as me in danger by his impatience.  If I had hit the two-wheeler, I am sure he would have charged me for causing hurt to the persons on the two-wheeler.  He might also have written down that I broke the rule in crossing when it was halt, though it is not true.  He will charge me under all possible sections.  Today, I had to be in college on time and so, I continued,  telling myself that talking to him will not help at all. 

Is there no means or place where we can question a policeman's behaviour towards the public, especially when his action will cause danger.  Or does the policeman think that whatever his action, even if it is wrong, it cannot be questioned.  I hope the day will come when policemen are answerable for their actions to the public. 

There was a time when I used to look upto policemen - that was when I was young - Kiran Bedi, Swaran Singh.  But then that image has changed a lot.  Today, good policemen are hard to come by.  Whenever I find one, I always think that he is one of a dying tribe that I used to admire.  You will see policemen asking for money from lorries parked in business areas as well as taking fruits and vegetables for free from the hand carts that line the road, for if the sellers object, they know that he will cause unnecessary trouble.  Then you will find policemen breaking signals so often that you wonder if they are above the law of the land.  Once, at a signal of four roads, I found two policemen on a bike taking a circle in the center area.  God knows what they were thinking of.  So, an encounter with a policeman is something you best avoid.  For in India today, despite the supreme court questioning the actions of bad policemen, it continues to date. 

Ant evolution

Come summer, it is the time when we see an army in pursuit.  Pursuit of food, saving up for the rainy day they know surely is to come.  So, it was.  But there was something different with these red ants.  They weren't interested with the flour left on the table after the rotis were made, not the crumbs of sugar. 
They went after something richer.  The empty vessel that contained cheese spread.  And what an army it was - red in colour(the communists would loose) and hundreds of them.  They refused to go away for three days after that.  No amount of sweeping and mopping the home would stop them.  Finally, I had to use Lakshman Rekha. 

I then wondered what they liked.  So, I tried a lot of things.  Bread crumbs left in the waste bin, little bit of wheat flour, little sugar - yet they wouldn't be tempted.  Finally, I thought that they had decided to change the direction of food gathering and hence I was safe.  So, one morning, packing lunch to go to work, I left the pan in which I had sauted the paneer(cottage cheese) on the cooking slab.  When I got back in the evening, the red army was pack in full vigour and then started the routine of trying to discourage them from coming by the usual methods till I hit again on the Lakshman Rekha. 

So, ant colony studies are used so much in computer science.  They go by the source of food as well as the choice of food available.  Okay, this is known.  But is there something called evolution in taste of the ants, that too collective taste ?  Or was it that they had enough of bread crumbs, sugar and wheat flour at home that they had narrowed down their shopping list.  They have left me wondering.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Pain of Waiting

Wait !  - that is one word that is difficult to follow.  Patience is a virtue - yes.  However, the process of waiting is a tedious one, given that the subject continues to creep, crawl and roll over in your mind.  If only there was a pause button for certain instances in the brain, then things would have been easier.  But, it is not so. 

We all know that it is upto us to control our brain.  But ask someone who has tried it.  For people like me, lesser mortals, it is so difficult.  The waiting.  And more so is the suspense.  Family I speak to tells me that there must be a reason.  That there is a reason for everything in the bigger scheme of things.  Maybe there is, maybe there is not.  Nothing can be definite. 

In Indian mythology, there are so many instances of waiting.  Waiting like Sita did for Rama to come and take her back, not knowing if he would be able to cross the sea and get to Lanka.  Like Radha did for Krishna.

Waiting like Parvathi did for Lord Shiva to come down to earth and take her back.  Bhishma's wait for death.  Waiting like how we are for Mahavishnu to take another avatar.  Then there are instances of how waiting was not possible.  Like how King Dushyanta told Shakuntala that he could not wait to marry her.  Stories of waiting and not waiting.

Everyone waits, at some point of time, for something.  It maybe for examination results, for the school bus to come,  paper review results, results of elections, waiting in the queue, for someone to say yes, for someone to change.....  The results could be good or bad, according to the person.  What is difficult is the intermittent time.  The time of waiting.  The minutes seem like forever as it does now for me.

[Picture : Raja Ravi Varma's painting of Radha waiting for Krishna]

With Appunni in the Naalukettu

This sunday, I picked up 'Naalukettu' for reading.  After buying it a year back when my supervisor spoke about it, I put off reading it till I felt I was ready to spend a day and more with it.  It was worth the wait.

I picked the book after breakfast and didn't have the patience to cook a complete lunch in between.  Appunni pervaded the air around me.  MT takes the reader to Kerala, the time being 50 - 60 years ago when the mindset was different.  He speaks about the society through Appunni.  He speaks as a boy and then as a man.  He makes the reader question and wonder about many things.  Having heard about the customs prevalent among castes in Kerala from my dad, the ritual of 'Pindam vekuka' was not new.  It only reinforced in me the feeling that society was and is to a large extent primarily patriarchal, where the rights of a woman are non-existant, where a woman is forced to accept whatever the 'karanavar' of the family decides.  Here, accepting as husband an old man. 

Set in the period of transition, where new laws were promulgated to free people, the author brings out this aspect subtly through the eyes and ears of Appunni.  He makes us want a better life for Appunni and at the same time, he makes us expect so much more of him.  Appunni behaves in the same way, as is expected of society in general.  It takes him quite sometime to accept his mother's relationship with Shankaran Nair but is ready to make peace with the person who killed his father.  The author through this shows not only Appunni's growing up, but also the maturing of the society around him.   

Being the first novel of the author, I realized that he is god's way of proving his own craftmanship.  He is a masterpiece given that he wrote the novel in three weeks and took a month for editing.  The only sad part is that I am unable to read the novel in malayalam - the pain of a malayalee not well-versed with malayalam.

Small things in life

Driving up to work, I saw a small boy, dressed up in his school uniforms standing on the side of the road.  His checked shirt and red shorts, were ironed stiff.  I wondered about the socks and shoes in this tropical summer.  As I drew close, I found he had his book and lunch bag right next to him, indicating he was waiting for the school bus to pick him up. 

What interested me was him trying to click his fingers.  He was intent on the activity, all concentration.  Guess he couldn't get the sound as he clicked his fingers.  This made me remember two things:  one, the first time I tried it out in school.  It was fun.  A bunch of us from the class started trying and continued for some time competing who could click loudest.  Second memory related to the same was that of my niece, Deeksha.  She had this habit of touch and feeling everything.  I had 'Lee' embroidered on my red T-shirt.  She came up, sat on my lap and then started using he forefinger to feel the embroidery.  It went on till she satisfied herself.  Then, she was off as something else had interested her.  This went on for sometime till she wanted to use her leg to feel things.  That is when things got a little serious as she didn't understand the working of something called 'gravity' and the need to 'maintain balance'.  After a few falls and the attention of a worried mother, she had satisfied herself. 

Nature has its own way of teaching its children things.  Birds learning to fly, a calf running helter skelter the days after she is born, an elephant calf not understanding the trunk she has and wringing it in all directions.  So it is with human beings.  How similar we are in the scheme of things ?  Yet we think we are different, superior.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pandit Jasraj at Velliangiri hills

As part of Yaksha 2011 at Dhyana Linga, Coimbatore, we had the opportunity to listen to Pandit Jasraj.  As he walked in, there was a hush.  We saw an old man, with cotton fluffy hair walking in.  An accompanist tried aiding his ascent onto stage.  He went down again and climbed himself showing his zeal for life. That made me understand that the man I saw may be old, physically, but at heart he was young, younger than many of us.

He raised in hands and started with raag Darbari.  He mesmerized us, took us up and took us down with the ups and downs of the raag.  The Velliangiri hills, a group of seven forming the backdrop reverberated with his voice.  There were connoisseurs and novices alike to listen to him that day.

 Still, he spoke volumes to novices like us through his music.  His students accompanying him were gifted themselves.  Their faces lit when Panditji said 'Shaabash' when they sang a difficult note.  Accompanying him on the tabla was Vijay Ghate whom I had the honour of listening to the second time(the first time with Pandit Chaurasia).

Shivarathri day was a dream come true for us.  We were honoured and blessed to listen to Panditji.  It is true that voices and energy like his are once in a lifetime. 
[Pictures courtesy the Hindu  http://www.hindu.com/mp/2011/03/05/stories/2011030552640300.html ]