Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year Message

December 31, 2008 4.00 PM IST. There we were standing outside a teashop in T Nagar planning for the celebrations on New Year's eve. There were many venues under consideration but all plans ran into the same problem. Money. Or rather the lack of it. There were about five of us and we needed close to 11,000 INR. So we planned to fool a friend into "sponsoring" a friend and me. He would provide us with 3000 INR. The rest would be "obtained" via contributions from ourselves. We had more or less convinced ourselves as to our astuteness when a ragamuffin emerged from almost nowhere and waving a plastic bag filled with ear buds begged us to buy them. Now we know that the authorities have cautioned us from buying and using such cheap buds because they are most likely made from recycled cotton, i.e, used cotton from hospitals. So we said no. But he persisted, so we asked what do you want now? He said ONE TEA and A BISCUIT. So my friend signalled the tea shop owner to give the kid ONE TEA and ONE BISCUIT. Receiving it thankfully, he sat down to that meagre meal with a gusto that moved us. Seeing this my friend signalled the tea shop owner to give him one more biscuit. 

After sometime my friend went to pay the shop owner. The shop owner said give me four rupees for the tea and one rupee for one biscuit. Surprised, my friend asked what about another biscuit? The shop owner said, "THE BOY PAID FOR IT." 

11.00 PM, New Year's Eve. We were at a rundown shanty awaiting the arrival of the new year. That boy, that ragamuffin, had taught us what honesty was. And that when we were contemplating spending of thousands on something as trifle as a party, millions were going without food and water. God willing we will never do something as stupid again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

As you sow, so you shall reap

Life sure is a circle. What you sow, you shall reap. Boy, they sure were not kidding when they thought up that adage. I have stated this earlier, I will state this again. Being a teacher sometimes exposes me to what is probably the entire list of characters to have crossed the Shakespearean stage right where I work. From the heroic to the downright comic, they are all here. Just a few short months ago, they were rejoicing in their "triumph." Now, they are running hither and thither, looking for shelter, with so called best buddies betraying each other. 

For those who haven't a clue as to what I am talking about, let me fill you in. 

Early July 2008. The students of the college I work in wrought mayhem protesting against the Principal. They held him responsible for their dismal performance in the University exams. College property worth lakhs were destroyed. The College management bowed to the pressure of the students. The Principal in question was removed. Old procedures for awarding marks were reinstated. How the students celebrated their "victory"! Obviously they had not heard of Churchill, leave alone his maxim, "In victory, magnanimity". The "victory" went to their heads. The next two months were hell for the staff members. Students were so indisciplined as to threaten female staff members and verbally abuse them. Many staff quit in disgust. 

Late September/Early October 2008. With a new Principal at the helm, the staff low on morale, things seemed to be taking a turn for the worse, when God intervened. A petty squabble amongst the students turned serious with two groups of students assaulting each other with iron rods and wooden sticks. Many students sustained injuries, with two being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. The Police were called in to restore order. They also arrested a few students. Later on an discipline committee was formed with the Principal as its head. The committee shortlisted the names of students who had indulged in the melee. At this dramatic turn of events, the so called unity of the students cracked and then crumbled. It was like "watching the Boulder Dam give way" (Forsyth, Frederick. "The Afghan") Students called for enquiry confessed every misdemeanor they had committed. I think that some of them even confessed the misdemeanors of their past life. 

Present Time, 2008. With strict control measures in place, and the screws still tightening, the student populace is now regretting its prior high handedness. With exams round the corner and the staff declining to help, they are running from pillar to post in search of salvation. Amidst this running around, a student found the time to tell his friend, "as we sow, so we shall reap. We kicked the earlier Principal out. Now we are being kicked around." Which I happened to overhear and have written it here. 

We sent a Person Who was preaching love and peace to the cross. We shot a person who preached non-violence. Now we are reaping the deadly harvest. As we sow, so we shall reap. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

During a train journey... (2)

August 21. Somewhere in Maharashtra. A wide expanse of greenery as stretched as far as the eye could see. Crops waving in the silky breeze that soothed the soul. Even the sun which seems oppressive in the city is mild here. In the distance stood a brick house with a tiled slanting roof. Near the house, a farmer hard at work, ploughing his fields with his pair of bullocks. Unmindful of the train thundering by, he merely gives it a passing glance. Not for him the hustle and bustle of city life. He dictates his pace and is perhaps the only person in the world to get work satisfaction. And if the government decides to give him a good price for his grain, no one could be happier or contented.

When I have earned enough money I plan to retire to a remote village, buy some land and become a farmer. There is no life that is equivalent to that of a farmer in a quiet village.

Critics may vary about the success or the rating Rambo IV received. But the last scene where Rambo walks to his home, his land, the place where he belongs is the most heartwarming scene of all. And they did not pick New York, Los Angeles or Miami for that scene. They chose a farmhouse, set in the midst of a veritable sea of corn for the scene (Arizona?).

A man at peace with himself, going back to his roots.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

During a train journey... (1)

August 19. Somewhere in Madhya Pradesh. We are yet to reach Itarsi Junction. Our train has stopped for one of those inevitable "crossings" that occur on all train journeys in India. There are thick forests on both sides of the track.

A small platoon of monkeys, obviously used to getting food treats at this spot, came down from their tree shelter. Almost as if by reflex, the passengers on the train began throwing fruits(bananas mostly), biscuits, slices of bread and other eatables toward the monkeys. And the monkeys did not disappoint the waiting audience. With loud shrieks, they pounced on the food and feasted like no tomorrow to the immense delight of the children on the train who goaded on their parents to hurl out more eatables.

One passenger threw a half empty soft drink bottle. Confronted with this strange object, a few monkeys shied away. It reminded one of the The Gods must be Crazy movies where bushmen come across a softdrink bottle accidentally dropped by the pilot of a small plane. That bottle was made of glass and empty. This was made of plastic and was still half full.

A bold male approached the bottle and gave it a feeble poke. And when the bottle spun round, he jumped back in alarm. A few such attempts later, determining that the bottle held malice toward none, he grabbed it and gave it a bite. Great was his surprise when the pressurized gas inside began to escape with a hissing sound from the hole he had created. He scurried back to the safety of his mates. The whole platoon watched as the dark brown liquid spurted out like a fountain.

A few seconds later, a bigger male, perhaps imagining the bottle to be a wounded animal spouting blood ventured forward and tried to drink the 'blood'. The fact that he did not like the taste of the 'blood' was quite obvious. He began grimacing and wiping his mouth with his front paws trying to take the taste off. Two other members of his clan decided to try out the taste as well and they too joined the pathfinder in wiping their mouths. After that the monkeys avoided the soft drink altogether. They didnot even go near it. Perhaps they had no sports or movie icon to advice them that the softdrink was good for them. Or perhaps we need to rethink the statement about Man being the most intelligent of all creatures.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Fig tree in the Vineyard

The following is an abridged translation of a sermon delivered by Pastor Daniel Thomas. (This presentation lacks the power of his presence and his magnetic voice, yet his message is universal)

The Fig tree in the Vineyard

Key Text: Luke 13: 6 – 9 (All references are in KJV)

6: He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7: Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8: And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Fig trees are usually found by the wayside. They are not cultivated. And yet, here we see what seems to be an anomaly. The owner of the vineyard has knowingly planted a fig tree IN his vineyard.

And when he saw a fig tree in the way ... (Matthew 21:19)

This is unusual. Why would somebody do so? It has been estimated that one could plant 70 grape saplings in the place occupied by a fig tree. So it is obvious that the fig tree has no place in the vineyard. That brings us to the first “tree” on our list

(i) The Undeserving Tree

The tree had no right of place in the vineyard, yet the owner had planted it there. Likewise, God has planted us in His vineyard, undeserving as we are of His grace.

He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. (Deuteronomy 32:10)

We are to have been cast out into the wilderness; yet, He has taken us and transplanted us in His vineyard.

And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.
- Ezekiel 16:4
He knew us even before we were born. And He chose to plant us in His vineyard. That brings us to the next tree.

(ii) The Deserving Tree

We are undeserving of our place in the vineyard, and yet because He has planted us there, we have become deserving. We have been given a fence to guard us, a Gardener to tend us and speak on our behalf, and an Owner.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
- I John 2:1

Just think of the blessing we have been given. We are His chosen people, His peculiar treasure. We are in the vineyard by Choice, not by Chance. We ought to have been cut down and cast into fire, yet Jesus has interceded on our behalf.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
- I Peter 2: 9, 10

There is another Person who speaks for us to the Father.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
- Romans 8: 26

Yet, why are they interceding? It’s because we have failed to bear fruit. A tree’s fundamental duty is to bear fruit. But we have not. So we are

(iii) The Failed Tree

A man who plants a tree certainly expects it to bear fruit. That is natural.

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. – Luke 13: 6

And yet we have either been barren or given “strange fruits” i.e. fruits contrary to God’s expectations.

Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
- Jeremiah 2: 21

What fruits does our Owner expect from us?

(a) Fruit of repentance
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: - Matthew 3: 8

(b) Fruit of righteousness
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the
glory and praise of God. - Philippians 1: 11

(c) Fruit of good deeds
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every
good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; - Colossians 1: 10

(d) Fruit of Thankfulness
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the
fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. - Hebrews 13: 15

And of course, (e) the Fruits of the Holy Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law
- Galatians 5: 22, 23

And we have been given time to bear fruits. Like the gardener in the parable, Jesus has interceded for us before God the Father. He has bought us time, making us

(iv) The Tree that received a new lease of life.

Jesus has interceded on our behalf and has said that He “shall dig about it, and dung it:” so that we bear fruit. Many of us wish for love or greater faith so on. Yet does God give us faith or love, or does He give us the opportunity to love or be faithful? Obviously the latter. So we all have received new leases of life. Everyday we should thank God that He has so graciously given us another day to bear fruit.
But we should not take it to mean that the lease is permanent. It can be revoked any time, any day. But we should not bring “false fruit.”

Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.
- Hosea 10: 1
(v) The Tree that received Grace.

We have received grace in the eyes of the Lord, and He has interceded for us.

And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
- Exodus 33: 17

Yes, He knows us individually by our names and we have received His grace.

But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
- Genesis 39: 21
Like Joseph in Egypt, we too have received grace in His eyes and have been given a new lease of life.

Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.

- Job 10: 12

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
- Psalms 30: 5

The command had gone forth, that the tree be felled. But God in His great mercy has stayed the felling just a little. Remember the time of Noah. God gave them 120 years to repent. They did not. Only Noah and his family escaped.

(vi) The Tree that escaped.

For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
- Isaiah 48:9

For His (Jesus’) Name’s sake, God has deferred His anger and refrained from cutting us down.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
Psalms 124: 7

Through the Saviour’s intercession we have escaped felling. We have received grace and a new lease. We have been given time to bear fruit.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
- Matthew 3: 7 - 10

Therefore remember that the axe has been laid next to every tree that does not yield fruit.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper

- Psalms 1: 1 – 3

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
- John 15: 16

And we (the church as a whole) should welcome our Lord like a bride bids her groom to come forth and enjoy the fruits of her labour.

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.
- Song of Solomon 4: 16

And if we follow His commandments,

And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
- Deuteronomy 7: 13

Therefore let us all go forth and bear fruits to the glory of God. God bless you, Amen.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

On Death

Good-by to the life I used to live,
And the world I used to know;
And kiss the hills for me, just once;
Now I am ready to go!
- Emily Dickinson

If tolling bell I ask the cause.
'A soul has gone to God,'
I'm answered in a lonesome tone;
Is heaven then so sad?

That bells should joyful ring to tell
A soul had gone to heaven,
Would seem to me the proper way
A good news should be given.
- Emily Dickinson

Most of us fear death, the absence of life. Many a time have I heard the statement, 'I love life.' Many party animals enjoy 'life' or so they claim. Why does no one enjoy death? It is inevitable. And if one believes in God, we have to meet the Maker. We are all here for a short sojourn on the planet and then we depart again. Yet in those sixty odd years we accomplish a lot of nonsense. We all know that we are not going to take anything with us when we depart. Everyone from an emperor to a slovenly beggar has to meet Mr. Death and depart from earth. Yet many do not go willingly. They kick and scream and Death has to literally drag them by their heels.

We amass wealth, fight 'enemies', think the world of ourselves, indulge in back biting, generally create a ruckus for something temporary. We do not care that we will have to stand before the Judge one day. We completely miss the picture. Life is a gift. True. It is like a roller coaster ride. True again. And yet when the ride is over, we do not want to leave.

All religions talk about death. Christianity says that death is a short sleep before you meet your Maker. Hinduism says that when you die, you go on a trial, literally, and thence to heaven or hell depending on your conduct on earth. We all place emphasis on the wrong things during our time on earth. Material things gain value at the cost of spiritual well being. Yet in that divine court, all your earthly power, your wealth account for nothing. There are many who have welcomed death. Socrates was one. As Dumbledore says in Harry Potter, "To the well ordered mind, death is but the next great adventure."

Personally, I would welcome Death. Provided the process happens quickly. This world and its mad rush has lost its appeal. I just smile at the things that go on under the name of survival. Can all this equal the love that the Divine can give us? Think about it. We are going to meet the Creator. What can equal the joy that that can give us?

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
- II Timothy 4 : 7

The 'lost' 8 years

I was talking to a friend of mine recently. He had a love affair that went on for eight years. Then circumstances separated the two. The girl married a software engineer and is now shuttling between countries wherever her husband is posted on duty. While reminiscing, he pointed out that the girl would right now be thinking that she had made the right decision and may even be regretting the eight years she "wasted." I agreed with him on the first count, but not on the second. We cannot be sure of that, though that does seem likely, I said then. Thinking about it now, I am positive that the girl in question would definitely be thinking so. If she is, I would like to take this opportunity to prove that she is wrong in thinking so.

It is true that the affair did not end on a positive note. But he conducted himself a true gentleman throughout. He could have taken advantage of her naivete, but he did not. For eight years he remained loyal and in fact shielded her from possible other misadventures that could have happened to her. They had had fights, misunderstandings, tantrums; the entire gamut of feelings that run in a relationship.

But they had a good rapport with each other. Each understood the other well. Now even though he is out of the picture, that does not mean that the experience she gained is of no use. Those eight years would definitely have left her more matured, composed, able to understand a relationship better. What if she had had an affair with a cunning confidence trickster. She may have paid a huge price for that misadventure. Or if she had had an affair with a young hot head, they may have eloped hurriedly only to repent at leisure. But all that did not happen.

Now that she is flying from continent to continent, she might consider it her good fortune that she was not able to wed him. While that is open to further debate, I would definitely have an issue to her or anyone saying that the affair itself was a waste of time. To outside eyes, it would seem so. But to those in the know, it is priceless. It laid the foundation of her present life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Train Journey

Many have written about train journeys. Most complimentary, some not so complimentary. Yet the writing continues. And now I take up the pen, or rather the key board. I hope I do my predecessors justice.

There is something about a train that fascinates the male mind (my apologies to the remaining half of the human population, since I have no evidence to the contrary I will have to surmise that you are not fascinated by trains). Maybe its the sense of power it radiates. The sheer sight of the engine making its way to the platform is itself awe inspiring. The huffs and puffs, the screech of the brakes, the loud hawking of the vendors, the mechanized voice of the announcer, the babble of confused voices shouting aloud a thousand goodbyes, take cares and see yous all make for a very potent cocktail.

And once on the train, the real fun begins. There is a wild rush for the window seat. And usually a great shout when the train begins to move. The luggage is secured. The train begins to gather speed and the landscape whips past you. The peculiar rocking motion of the train is another reason. Everyone brings out food packets and no one knows whose hand is where. Finally, the eating all done, the group separates in differing activities. Some begin to play cards, some make a furtive trip to the bathroom to smoke and down a drink. Some tipplers are a inventive lot. They buy a large soft drink bottle, preferably pepsi or coke owing to their dark colour. They dump half the stuff and add liquor to it. And they comfortably take a sip out of it openly. To all unsuspecting eyes they are enjoying a soft drink.

Others bring out cards and soon there is a big crowd around them. Till the Ticket Examiner comes. As soon as he leaves, the game is on again. A few take out books, novels and bury their noses in them. And then there are those who just look out the window. Like me.

The swift breeze generated by the furious pace of the train blows on your face. Your windswept hair brushed back by its force. Somehow the train's motion makes me feel at peace. And now the tracks curve and necks crane out to catch a glimpse of the engine puffing away. It seems amazing that that solitary engine can pull all these compartments. You wonder at the driver and all those people who are working to ensure the safe passage of the train. Sometimes you look inside the compartment and try to guess who each passenger may be. So many different faces, different thoughts. It seems a tableau of life.

Sometimes life too seems to be a train journey. We meet so many people on the way, past friends and acquaintances, future friends and acquaintances, well wishers, people who wish we were in a well, so on. People get off, get on. This is one train journey where all get to be drivers and passengers at the same time. There are those who grumble at the tardiness of the train or the unkemptness, some who do not like the their co passengers, some looking very anxious, some looking down and out, some full of life and having the time of their life, some quiet and some relaxed. Yet it is a journey one must necessarily take. If at all for the reason that you will never get a chance on it again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
-- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

One of the most profound statements on life that I have read. Quite easy to read. Difficult to accept. We all seek excuses for our failures. Many a time we see an extremely talented person in a position far below what he promised early on in his/her life. And we say, cruel fate and move on. But was it really fate? If we do a post mortem on the life that has been lived, we would see that at every juncture in life, we would have taken a decision that may have seemed simple at that time yet one that was life altering. It may be something as simple as deciding to ride on a bicycle even though you know that the air pressure in the tyre is low. You are to meet a person regarding some funding for college fees. On the way the tyre gets punctured and you wheel it to the cycle shop. Time passes by and by the time you reach the person's house its late and he has left for work. You'll have to wait till evening and the seat you sought in a college of your liking is a distant memory.

Many choices both right and wrong have brought us to where we are now. These are choices we made with our lives. What about those choices that we make that involves others lives? Many people in high offices or positions of responsibility are often caught in this catch-22 situation. Two people are about to be sentenced. You can save one of them. They both are friends. Whom do you save? And how will you justify ditching the other? These are questions that no one would want to answer in a hurry. And yet Life sometimes demands that we do so in a jiffy.

Over the years I have trained myself not to worry about decisions past. But yet there are a few I wish that could be undone and gone through again....

Oh! For a life minus regrets.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Being a teacher has its advantages. One gets to look at a wide swathe of humanity. From winners to whiners, you see them all. Recently, I heard of a piece of news that left me amused, angry, disappointed and just plain sick. A boy had hit a girl with his belt so hard that the girl fainted. Such an act cannot be justified no matter what the provocation. Well, there had to be a provocation for that if that had been a random occurrence. But it was not so. The boy and the girl were "lovers" (what that term means no one knows, its becoming such a cliche.. sheesh) it seems. And they were "sincerely" loving each other (another cliché). "Everyone" believed that their "love" would succeed. (I do not know what success they meant) There was just one fly in the ointment.

The boy had a peculiar habit. Every now and then he would thrash the girl to show his "love" for her. And the girl would bear it without a sound to show her "love". Once he had actually made her bleed. What a pair! Wah! Wah! This is "true love". (I thought that people considered love itself as true, never knew that there were categories like true love and untrue love. Maybe they are going to define "true love" as the feeling that contains 99% "love" and 1% impurities) Well, I am digressing.. To come back to the story, the girl has been admitted to a hospital and is receiving medical aid. The boy's parents came to college and secured his transfer certificate.

How stupid can people get? Well, that is a good question. The problem with stupidity is that you cant define a lower limit. People seem to revel in pushing it still lower. It is natural to fall in a crush at 18. If you do not fall, you are not human. But you should be able to identify a crush as a crush. How this girl kept on in an abusive relationship remains a secret. But why she kept on is no secret. She was following the typical portrayal of women in the visual media. Or in other words, she was plain dumb.

Last heard : She is still thinking about the boy and his "love". God help her.

On Being Alone

Many is the time we feel the urge to be alone (as opposed to being lonely). We want to be away from everyone and everything. Probably relish the company of Nature. I understood this recently while on vacation in Kodaikanal. I was in the company of friends. But what I liked best was rising early in the morning and wandering out in the early morning mist with just my faint shadow for company. It was mentally refreshing. No wonder many holy men walked into the jungle to pursue meditation. Better than any coffee that can be brewed up, the crisp air refreshed me to no end. And with no one to disturb me with chatter, I revelled in the solitude.

I do not mean that friends are a disturbance. But I feel that we are at peace with ourselves when we are alone. We learn to admire Nature in her pristine glory, think about how mechanical our lives have become. We just need to view the starry sky on a clear night to realize that we are just a speck living on a speck. Yet we think the world of ourselves. (Some think the universe of themselves) All around us, life is moving on. The spider does not know that we exist. It knows only the difference between the touch of a raindrop or the footfall of an insect on its web. Yet we seek attention all the time.

Yet, how many times has one looked up at the sky? We SEE, but we do not OBSERVE. A man was walking through an art gallery with a bored expression on his face. He bumped into an artist. "Sorry", he said "I wasn't looking." Seeing his bored expression the artist said, "Maybe you SHOULD LOOK".

The story doesn't end there. The first guy continued. "At what?" he asked casually. The artist looked around at the riot of colour around him and said, "if only I could lend you my eyes."

I would advise everyone to take a Mental Health Day, i.e, a day alone, a date with Dame Nature. I assure you, you wont regret it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Scope of it..

There are many scopes in existence that help humankind, viz., telescope, periscope, microscope, endoscope, even the kaleidoscope to name a few. Yet there is one scope specially designed by humans, the principal aim of which is the downfall of as many humans that believe in it. Its reputation is still growing strong even after all this scientific progress. It is the mighty HORRORSCOPE, er.. sorry, whoroscope, oops.. sorry sorry, the horoscope.

There are umpteen numbers of swamis who claim that they can talk to Jupiter in person and ask it to shift a few lakh kilometres so that it lands in an auspicious 'square '. Or to Saturn and request it to stop revolving for a year or so. These horoscopes are the idiot's answer to astronomical treatises. My argument is that there was once a fool, a man so completely bereft of brains that the entire village/town/city where he lived in ridiculed him. However he had one great ambition-to study astronomy. However, the study of astronomy required lot of grey matter inside the cranium and our friend did not possess even a gram of it. But he thought of a way. He began to borrow palm leaves from the students who had taken up astronomy and began to read them. Whenever he was caught doing that, he was teased. Yet he did not give up. But a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. With no one to explain gravity to him, he came up with his own answers. The planets and the stars were influencing us. They were influencing our lives. Voila, Eureka.. and so on. A new 'science' was born. Astrology-the study of the cosmos (with emphasis on the universe's influence on humans).

Overnight he founded an institution and imparted his new found knowledge to fool and idiot alike. It still persists today. People, even educated ones, believe that the planets and the stars influence us, as if they have no other work. They let the horoscope and its so called predictions run their lives. They consult it when they have to make important decisions. Yet when a truck is about to run them over, they do not consult it to see if its auspicious to jump out of harm's way. Is not that an important decision. Maybe the truck's licence number is lucky for them and will send them straight to heaven.

A person may never understand calculus, but he or she readily understands numerology - the study of numbers. No, this is not an offshoot of number theory. This has sprung from the loins of horoscope. It gave birth to many different idiotic beliefs. Perhaps no one gave it family planning advice. There is a gem of a theory-gemology. They examine your horoscope and advice you to buy a gem, viz., diamond, pearl depending on your sun sign or moon sign. Never knew that the sun and moon had signatures. Then there's another champion-nameology, the science of changing your name or choosing different name because it supposedly gives you good luck. Perhaps people would one day name themselves BIG SHIT, because its value is the lucky number 1. Please excuse me while I vomit.

Grain from the Chaff

Most people are able to separate the "grain from the chaff", i.e, the real talented ones from the "untalented" ones. Yet, many support the "chaff" just because the "chaff" belongs to their community or religion or other discriminating criteria that people put to use. They would rather that a "chaff" of their chosen criteria wins the prize, recognition, position than a grain belonging to other rejected, not accepted criteria. I think that by now you would have understood what I am talking about. I am not giving a talk on harvesting techniques. I am talking about the blind support that we give to some issues or people without allowing for their drawbacks or faults. When someone else points out their lacunae we become defensive and sometimes downright stubborn and rude in seeking to support our "pet".

Recently I attended a music competition. Seated behind me were, as was quite obvious from their vociferation, were the supporters of a participant. On hearing their hurrahs one naturally thought that the participant in question was highly talented. Alas. That participant was a nincompoop. His performance did not even take off, to the say the least. Yet, his supporters persisted in their hollering. That was really good of them. In an age where loyalty is thought of as a relic of a bygone era, their loyalty even to a dying cause was and is commendable. However, what happened next was totally unacceptable.

The next performer, a girl, stole the show with her dance moves and superb voice modulations. Added to that her song selection was impeccable which enabled her to showcase the entire gamut of her vocal range. If the Les Miserables behind me had appreciated her performance and given it its due credit, they would have transmogrified into gentlemen. They didn't.

They began catcalling and verbally abusing the participant in effort to dishearten or even intimidate her. It became so bad that the organisers had to warn them to desist else they would ask the bouncers to carry out their duty. They quietened after that.

The question is why did they do it in the first place? Why couldn't they accept the fact that there was another candidate who was visibly better than their candidate? Is the victory at all costs gluttony so infectious? I leave the debate open....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Fair Exchange!!

Today, people seem to change their partners (lovers, spouses, "friends") so fast that they sometimes forget who their current partner is. And sometimes an exchange can take place. While overhearing gossip recently, I was given to understand that a particular Ms. X was currently seeing Mr. B, while Mr. A was currently on very friendly terms with Ms. Y. Very good. Natural. But wait, was not it a few months ago that Mr. A was seeing Ms. X and Mr. B seeing Ms. Y? What happened to that? Oh.. Mutual Exchange. Maybe they should think of constructing a 'Love' Exchange where people can trade partners and also know which partners are in greatest demand.

Time to move on

When does one feel that one has been staying at a place too long.. as they say past one's welcome date? Signals could be anything from a cold shoulder to complete disregard. How would one feel when the toil, the work one put in over many years was disregarded and and one was made to feel very unwelcome. I understood the feeling recently. I believe it comes as a shock. You are made to realize that some people have no feelings or brains or a mind whatsoever. For them all that matters is that the pretence that all is well must go on. They do not care if you have served ten years or twenty. If you have outlived your usefulness, they have no more use for you and chuck you out. They justify it in the name of business. But knowing them, one can very safely say that they know naught about the business. They just want it their way. One can try advising that Plan A would be better, but they do not want plan A, they want a total nonsensical plan. Fine, have it your way. Your money, your plan.