Friday, August 26, 2016

What is Real Indian Pride?

True when it comes to a nation competing with the world the idea of national pride takes  a new meaning and height. Sports competitions are the best examples of this. Rio Olympics  just concluded and its highlights are still fresh in our mind.  In this case, the national pride we projected are in terms of the medal tally but of course, in that we weren't featured significantly. India is featured very low there. But that cannot be counted against India's national pride because in a competition there will be always excellent, average and poor. An opportunity to realise where one stands in terms of the strength and weakness is a matter of realism. 

But again how do you define pride?  This is the best definition I got for personal pride after a simple search: PRIDE Pride is Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence. There is also something confused as pride; arrogance and disregard for others to boost one's self-importance and ego. 

The above definition of PRIDE is applicable at the national level as well because a nation can be taken as a big person.

Now coming to the other Rio highlights; let us look at what news has been flashed across the world about the way Indian's sports officials, including Vijay Goel the sports minister of India, took responsibility vested on them in delivering excellence. Oh yes, he went to visit Rio, unlike sports ministers in other nations, but to embarrass the whole nation including the Indian Olympians. 

A few samples of this bitter pill the Indians talk about when they meet and feel ashamed, that is those who really understand the meaning of PRIDE. 

  • "The sports minister of India, Vijay Goel, who was accompanying Indian athletes to show his support and monitor requests of athletes, ended up almost losing his Olympics accreditation. The minister's  'entourage' without having accreditations to certain locations behaved in 'aggressive' and 'rude'manner when they were stopped by the officials to enter."
  • "The Indian Olympics contingent had two official medical staggers, Pawandeep Singh and Col R. S. Negi, who both were radiologists by profession and had no prior experience in sports medicine." 
  • "The two radiologists, coincidentally are related to Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) key members.  According to reports, O.P Jaisha's coach had to get into scuffle with the doctors to demand medical  attention after she fainted during the marathon."  

You can read more of this here

Well, one can argue, it's all over, the next Olympics is going to come only after four years, so why should we bother about these things anymore or doubt the sincerity of those who feel ashamed about these things.  

As individuals we feel helpless is also another way of seeing this. And it's where the officials and politicians who were responsible for causing this outright mayhem get scot free. And they will continue showing the same disregard riding the people and a nation thinking that is what they are appointed for.

One way to make a change is everyone who feels that PRIDE should talk about that to create its awareness. If none talks, we are helping to make it a forgotten thing and the show of ego will take precedence over it. 

It's good news that while I was concluding this, I saw this on Facebook; a petition started by Devyani Chaudhari, "a former table tennis player who represented India in 1980," addressing Mr Modi, the prime minister of India. She is asking the PM to take necessary steps so that the oncoming Asian games and the Commonwealth games both happening in 2018 can avoid the Rio embarrassments. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

One Indian Girl

We all heard it: Chethan Bhagath's One Indian Girl, broke all records in Amazon's pre-order history thirty minutes after going live on the platform beating Harry Potter and Cursed Child's Day 1. 

Chethan Bhagat is a best-selling Indian author. The banker -turned author's debut novel is 'Five Point Someone', and One Indian Girl is his eighth work; previously he has written  five fiction and two non-fiction.

The book is set to hit stands on first of October.

What makes the current work unique according to him is that it is about females about feminism. This is what he writes in his blog on this:"I wrote on feminism because it isn't an equal world for woman, and most don't realise it. As a writer, I want to highlight issues in society that affect a lot of people. Feminism affects us all." He adds that his desire to write about females has taken a long time because to write in a 'female first person' was a 'huge challenge'.  
In the book's teaser released last Friday, he hints what feminism we can expect from his book. This is how he pictures the Indian Girl's profile: "Hi, I'm Radhika Mehta and I'm getting married this week. I work in a top investment bank. Thank you for reading my crazy story. However, let me warn you. You may not like me too much. One, I make a lot of money. Two, I have an opinion on everything. Three, I have had sex before. Now, if I were a guy, you'd be cool with all this. Since I am a girl, these things don't really make me too likeable, do they?"

Okay, Chethan Bhagat's female protagonist is a North Indian girl, we can see that from her surname. If she were a Keralite, I wonder whether the first reason in the list would have mattered, but certainly the other two. And for that matter, I wonder, how a parallel story if ever written in Malayalam (not a translation) be received by us?  

Just a thought. 

Those who want to read his debut novel, Five Point Someone can be freely downloaded from the link 

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Page From My Writing

From Long Island Express Highway, Kailas turned north to enter Spring Filed Boulevard.  His visit to his home, he wasn’t sure to call it home, would have impacted who were close to him, had the events happened recently taken another turn.  The Boulevard was chock-a-block with traffic; his laziness didn’t allow him to check the traffic level before entering the Boulevard.  The road ahead stretched in two lines.  A tall advertising vehicle in front prevented him seeing anything beyond its flat back. He switched on his car radio and tuned on to the SyriusXM channel.  The announcer went on and on about all routes busy, he got angry and turned off the channel.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Radicalization of Kerala youths

How alarming is the theory that 21 people, some say, over 40, were recruited from Kerala to join the IS in Siria and Afganistan? It's a theory so far because the Kerala government has no tangible evidence to prove they were truly the cases of IS recruitment. They could have gone on a pilgrimage and emerge later is a possibility, so we have to wait until the official confirmation comes from the government.  Until then we go one making our own theories and facts. However, the government has started investigating.

Monday, July 11, 2016

My Uncle's Heirloom

It was a mistake happened in a split second.  The lamp shade, I just removed of a table lamp slipped off my hand; fell onto the floor and crashed in a jingling. How I watched sadly, the shade was turning into a white net of shards. The dust that had gathered on its surface had rendered the lamp a dead, fearsome look.  So I was prompted to give it a facelift.

 I was also earnestly trying to help my aunt in secret.  But, if my aunt got a clue of what I was intending, I was sure, she wouldn't have allowed me. The lamp, my uncle told was his family heirloom, so had lots of sentimental values attached to it more than its material value.  His great uncle got it from Vas co Dagama's yacht; his story went like that. I never believed him. My point was, how could he discard a thing of much sentimental value in the corner of the passageway to gather dust? Only when visitors came, he got my aunt to dust it and display on his table.  The following week, some guests were coming, and my aunt had to clean it. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Freedom in Creative Expression

Kethan Bhagat, one of the India's bestseller authors, answered in an interview; he writes for changing people's perspective.

He's right. Writers are mainly the people who deal with emotions, and only emotions or feelings can change people's perspectives or views. And how can this be possible for writers, if they aren't allowed creative freedom, and tethered at the end of limited expressions? The individuals and the society as a whole get to with only stale or outdated ideas.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Work - Life Balance

Now that I'm not working, so, I can write only about how I experienced it while I worked.

Throughout my career life, I lived in Africa, where I'm still living, where conditions of life varied from those at home. I came to Africa, after I got married. When I got married I had to drop my work in India. When I worked in India, my colleagues and myself, stayed together in one house. We cooked and completed cooking and other home chores together, in turn, and life was very balanced. Less responsibilities, more freedom, that was for the spinsters.. But for those among us who were married, didn't seem life as balancing as it was for us, for they were always saddened by missing of their family members-husband and children.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

What's Your Favorite Season of the Year

No doubt, my favorite season of the year is spring.  That is the period in which the nature pauses graciously on its fashion ramp in the most eye-catching make-over.

I fondly remember the Kerala spring, though we hadn't used that word in our common vocabulary, because we weren't that conscious about transitional seasons; we talked only about rainy season and summer. Instead the arrival of spring, we associated with the arrival of Onam, which is a harvest festival. It came as a relief from a three-month's horrendous, South-Western Monsoon. For the three months it poured non-stop, breaking the sky into a constant war zone.The dark cumulus clouds ran amok over our head like maddened elephants, clashing violently forming thunderclouds shrieking with thunders and lightening. It appeared the Monsoon relished a sort of cruel pleasure when it reeked insurmountable havoc in the lives of people, especially the poor and the deprived.  Those who received its worst firing rage were the ones lived in the hilly underdeveloped highlands, where Kerala's rich forest lands are situated. They suffered large scale life losses, landslides, aggravated deprivation of material and spiritual well-being.  Monsoon was a period when nature was unforgivably harsh on them.

Monday, June 13, 2016

What am I thinking

Tree on winter meditation 

What am I thinking about now?

I'm thinking about a tree, I see daily, outside my window. It belongs to the Betula Pendula species, commonly known by the name Silver Birch

It's reminding me of the beauty of a temporal transformation. When I was in Kerala, the facts of seasonal changes weren't something that affected my sense of reality much, because there I never got a chance to experience them in such sharp contrasts. But in South Africa we have all four seasons,from 1 June to 31 August it's winter. So right now it's winter here. After that from 1 September to 30 November it's spring and the summer starts on 1st December and ends by the end of February.

Here, I am watching the tree's transformation, as it happens daily.  I have captured two momentous points in its transformation through two photographs. Already by the beginning of the winter it started losing leaves and would stay in that state until the beginning of September, when the dormant shoots of leaves would be unfurling and by the beginning of December it would mature into a fully fledged tree.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

My Missing Child

The car screeched into the parking lot at a high speed and stopped haphazardly. Not straightening its position for fellow drivers' convenience, she stepped out of it and walked in the direction of the building close by. The building wasn't causing any interest in her. Not because of its dull quaint appearance, but because it was a police station.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Post Inspired by the Picture # Friday Refelctions

I'm joining Friday Reflections on the prompt "Write a post inspired by the picture provided."

Write Tribe
I was reaching the end of the tether.  Like the three goats that I have seen in a dream. Three goats, tethered to one piece of  gnarled, dried, old log that was lying flat in a room.  The room was dark but the goats were visible in the light poking in its head around through the door ajar and though many chink on the roof. The goats wore on its body, thick coats of long shinning, sleek silky fur. One nanny goat and two billy goats. Their backward turning hones were in a brownish black shade. With big eyes beaming with innocence, that we find always in children.

Their tether too matched with the colour of their coat; silky white, made by twisting together strands of nylon.  All three were nibbling on things found on the floor, and were walking steadily, making kind of circular motion, so that their ropes never got tangled. It was interesting to watch how could they went on doing that regular routine! At times they stopped altogether lifting their heads upwards looking at the roof and baying. Their baying was marked with a sort of inherent sadness; sorrowful, grief stricken.  Can animals feel sorrow, and pain, like humans, the thought crept into to my mind and  haunted me. Animals have no mind I have heard, beyond that I had no elaborate notion whether it was true or not.

Then all of a sudden, in front of my eyes, they lost their rhythmic, mindful motion. It started with the billy got taking a sudden jerky break, stopping in hesitation, and walking in reverse direction. The other two, began baying in high pitch to caution him, but of no use. He did it; he started it with no going back. A caring, kind looking animal was suddenly turning aggressive. And in no time, the three nylon ropes got entangled. The three goats were tumbling over each other, and rolling on. Having nothing to stop on their way, they plunged into a deep gorge, in the side of the room that I noticed only then.  Their fearful collective baying exploded into the room like a big explosion, which slowly ebbed out.

As I was waking up from my dream, my mind was coming to the realization, that it wasn't a mere dream. It was a symbolic reminder of what was happening to my own life and of my family.  The innocence that I saw in the big eyes of the billy goat was what I saw in Mohit's eyes- my elder brother. He was ten, I was already seeing a leader. and a protector in him.

What I could remember clearly even now, was he counting numbers. We were playing hid and seek. We had instructions from Papa that outside the gate was out of boundary for children while we were alone.  But, he went outside.Burying his head into the cleavage between the two branching trunks of the old oak tree outside the gate, he was counting.  I was pushing Mikki. We were sealing our lips, tumbling over the lush garden, and looking for a place to hide. I heard him starting counting, and reaching 20, 21, 22. Then it stopped.  In a alarm alerted in my mind, I stopped for a second, but in my childhood innocence and playfulness, preferred to ignore it. After a long while, when I wasn't hearing any counting at all, and no call out form him to start the pay, I moved out of my hiding and went in search of him. Mikki was strolling after me. Poor Mikki, his brain wasn't able to respond to the stimulus from the surroundings like a normal child was able to do. It was an inborn condition, doctors had told.  I rushed to the gate leaving Mikki, and Mohit wasn't there. I called out for him until my throat broke, and my voice cracked into a lean cry.

Police found nothing.  The worst thing was, our Pappa was turning obsessed with Mikki's disappearance.  He wasn't able to sleep a single night, there after. He shouted the whole day and night finding fault with people, family, relatives and friends. Was he losing his mind or had he got a point? Who would know? One day, he began chasing a car. He saw Mohit in a speeding car, he was claiming. He called the police, but before they got to the scene, my Pappa had started the chase, and in that rush, his car was thrown off a bent on the road.

We got to see, only a charred lump of human flesh as his remaining.  Sometimes, I wondered, was it truly Pappa's body that arrived in that box, carried by people I never knew. Who were they? I would never know. Sometimes, such thoughts makes me heave and sigh. They persuade me to keep a belief that Pappa is somewhere living, like Mohit, or with Mohit, and the circumstances, whatever they were, were preventing them from reaching us. That believes gave me hope, even now it gives me hope.

Papa's body was cremated; I was fearful of that, but all his family insisted in doing that. Was it also pointing out so something ominous?  How could I easily loose faith in humans, and relatives to such a dangerous level, I wasn't able to explain. I was changing.

The tragedy continued its relentless attack on us. Very soon, Mamma got a brain stem stroke; she lost the ability to move her body parts. Numbness made the left side of her body useless. One good thing was Mikki was getting organised in his brain; he was now able to make right meanings to his own experiences. He could do a lot to help mother.  

For sixteen years, I was remaining trapped in our house in guilt and fear. I was afraid of reaching up to our gate, and going out. On many occasions, I was tempted to take a hatchet and cut down the huge oaks tree out side the gate, which according to me was the reason for Mohit's disappearing.

Now I'm 26.  Mamma persuaded me, and by the way, she has proven herself to be the best fighter against her own brain, to overcome  her advertises.  There were times I had thought, I had lost my mother too, but she was gaining strength in her mind and body. She forced me to have a look at the outside world to see how people were living their lives in happiness and unhappiness.

Finally, I got the courage to walk out through our gate, pass the oak tree, and walk along the street. On the street, I began to hear people's stories; sometimes a word uttered by them was a story. I could complete it into a beautiful story.  In doing that, I was entering their mind, and brain, and I became their close relatives and friends. I lived in them, without they knowing it, and they lived in me too.

I began to visit daily, the library closer to my home. Soon I was beginning to delve into the fascinating world of books.  One day, a girl of my age came to me, and hugged me. "You are Pinky, isn't it?, she asked, me. While I was paging through my memories to figure out her face, she said, "I was your classmate." She was with me, in standard one. There after, I haven't attended a regular school. Like that, I got a new friend, that too someone who knew all about my life.

She was so pleased to hear, I passed my grade 12 exam and that I joined a university through distant learning. She took me, one day, to her home, and straight to her room. The first thing I saw, when I stepped into her room was a framed picture on the wall. It made me drag my feet, as though I skipped a beat in my chest. The picture to me appeared, everything dark and depressing, materialized inside a picture frame.

"You want me to remove that?"she asked. I said "no." Then I looked at the picture with keen interest. The photograph of a desert rock,I assumed it was, I wasn't sure. A young girl was sitting on the curb of the culvert.  She was looking down at something in her hand that I couldn't make out clearly. She afforded me, only her side view. But that was enough to sense her inner turmoil. Slowly, I was getting used to that picture. It honestly showed a stage in my life, and similarly in many one's life. What's the point in denying that? What's the point in running away from that? Or putting it differently, in discriminating dark against the other. That dark was the point where I started to see the brightness. So, how would I see those two separate from one another? They form a whole only in pairing; one alone is incomplete.

"I love it." I said.

My friend was pleased to hear that.