Sunday, 18 December 2016

My words

The more I try to discard them,
these words just cling to me.
Poor vagabond souls;
they beseech me to pick them up.
I know they won't leave me alone,
until I write them down.
In haphazard symmetry,
or in well planned rhymes.
These words, they come to me ,
in a rush, taking me along
to the heights of ecstacy
as they unfold one by one
in lines of my own poetry.
I wonder when they change
their meanings to convey 
what I never meant to be.
I am not their master anymore
when they catch hold of me .

Monday, 5 December 2016

Something broke somewhere

Something broke somewhere
and the wreckage still lie .
Why did it happen, how did it happen ;
are all forgotten now ,
the dust has settled long ago
Only the memory remains
in old black and white pictures
that something was here,
many years before.
Glories of kings, abode of Gods,
wrath of marauding invaders,
nobody knows what it was all about;
the reason to break the trust.
Beyond the tattered curtains
those eyes will haunt us forever.
The broken threads will never create
designs of colour anymore.
In the desolation of these ruins,
barren promises reverberate
with every impending season of harvest.
But whatever  broke remains broken,
and that is the ultimate truth .

Sunday, 4 December 2016

#Kahaani 2

It is very difficult to make a well rounded thriller. To get acceptance from the people without high voltage action, sex scenes or vicious crimes and keep them riveted with a social context and a personal agenda of the protagonist is tricky . More so when the director competes against himself in matching the benchmark of this genre set personally and the industry. But Kahaani2 : Durga Rani Singh is altogether a different movie and therefore should be seen as a standalone movie.
The story and plot of the movie is  thin even though it alternates between the past and present through a diary in the first half. The first half is well made and the suspense is built deftly. But Ironically the second half which has more action slows down the tempo. And because of the one dimensional nature of the focus the twists and turns are few and the surprise element fades away towards the end. As a thriller it is probably good.  But could be more. The plot is too linear and simple for a thriller to precipitate.
The social issue brought out in this movie is one that probably is a dark secret. And the director portrays it in a sensitive way. The system that helps the powerful against the underdog and the whistleblower is also neatly exposed. As a social story itself the director deserves credit . But this is Sujoy Ghosh from whom our expectations are much more.
All the blemishes however are taken care of by Vidya Balan and she responds to the director's faith in her in a superlative perforfance. Her deglam looks, intense emotion, understated acting and total identification with the character is perhaps a milestone for an actor, male or female. For me, she has surpassed her role in Kahaani, the previous one. See in spite of my warning, I am myself still comparing. But this again may be the weak point as no other character matches her standard and she carries the entire film on her shoulders.
One actor who could perhaps match up, namely Arjun Rampal is competent but I felt his accent and voice was incongruous with the surrounding. Ditto for Manini Chaddha, who plays his wife. If that was intentional by the director then I would say it was a wrong way to portray them. Other actors from the Bengali film industry support the story admirably, particularly Kharaj Mukherjee by his typical style of comic reliefs.
The director has let the Bengali accent of the actors and use of Bengali words very well to establish the locale and the canvas for his work. It is cleverly done and takes the movie along an identity . The camera work is probing and helps the actors. Actually It is a great work of photography particularly as the night scenes stand out very well. Music by Clinton Cerezo is apt and never goes overboard. The background score is proffessionally done but does not have the haunting quality of say, Shantanu Moitra. The locales of Kalimpong and Chandannagar are brought out well but I felt that the hills of Kalimpong and the narrow lanes of Chandannagar could be explored a little more. And is Chandannagar really so less crowded ? I don't think so.
Overall Kahaani 2 is a very good movie as a standalone but falls short of the huge expectations generated by its association and franchise. It is enjoyable and a clean thiller. Perhaps the best movie for this year on the cerebral quotient. The social message and its chilling relevance is also shown with a lot of sensitivity. I would definitely recommend to watch this movie. 

Friday, 2 December 2016

Love me once again

Love me 
because you want to 
not because I love you.
My being there
or my absence 
doesn't really matter;
once you realise that 
in spite of everything
that happens or have happened,
it is still that same old feeling
between us, even now. 
Before the shifting sands 
obliterate the trace 
of all our efforts.
In these changing times, 

in the midst of chaos,
love me once again.

Want to go cashless ?

#Demonetisation  The televised address by the Prime Minister  on the evening of the 8th November announcing the scrapping of  currency notes in the denomination of Rs 500 and 1000 has been  sudden and dramatic in its effect. The subsequent Gazette notification by the ministry of Finance mentioned the reasons for the step taken as: (1) Curb the menace of fake currency notes ;(2) wipe out unaccounted and tax evaded money; and (3) prevent terror financing and drug trafficking. 

In the wake of the widespread chaos and disruption that followed; the Prime Minister appealed to the citizen of the country to wait for 50 days for the system to normalize. Since then, for the last three weeks, the whole country is coping with the shortage of currency notes. The basic premise of the word demonetisation  being used to describe the scrapping of a set of currency notes and then replacing them gradually by another set  is now being altered to remonetisation as the realisation dawns over its inappropriateness. 

The events which have unfolded in these three weeks show that the basic objectives of the process, as mentioned above can't be said to have been fulfilled immediately and the evaluation on these points will take time. But meanwhile the sucking up of liquidity from the people and piling them into the Banking system has hit the whole financial infrastructure hard. The hardest hit sections of the society has been the unorganized, rural and small business segment. The prevalent confusion due to the change of rules of exchange, deposit and withdrawal of money from bank accounts almost on a daily basis has rendered the whole exercise into a form of undeclared financial emergency. 

Sensing the nature trouble ahead  which may stretch beyond the period of 50 days of patience as advocated by the PM, the whole narrative is now sought to be shifted towards  a related but hitherto unannounced dimension of "cashless" transactions. Theoretically  and conceptually this also looks good and most well meaning citizens, particularly the urban middle class and the upwardly moving class would endorse it wholeheartedly. Maybe as a tool to realize  their aspiration of entering a digital world at par with developed nations. And surely cashless financial transactions would usher in a great societal change. No doubts about that, even from a sceptic like me. 

But instead of getting swamped away in waves of irrational exuberance as previously done over Swatchh Bharat, Yoga Day ,  Surgical strike on Pakistan  or  the fervour of patriotism it is necessary to examine the matter in the light of our capabilities and plans . The recent episode has shown the logistical challenges that have to be encountered in a big country like ours with a even bigger population by comparison with the developed nations.  As the scarcity of currency notes and recalibration of ATMs have shown; there is a crying  need of meticulous planning with military precision instead of reaction through announcements. Nothing is impossible but everything has a cost. 

The advantages of going cashless are many. But we have to ask ourselves whether everything that is possible needs to be done. And that too in a hurry. Most of us are already moving toward a cashless society — not because we care about the accruing benefits overall , but because the stuff is so very convenient.There is no denying the fact that cashless transactions will bring more people under the tax net. It will eventually be the order of the day. But till then, it should not be forced on a population with low level of literacy and ignorance about laws and technology.

Banks and payment systems  industry will make a huge amount of money . There will be a major risk of cyber crime syndicates replacing the present organised crime gangs. All these may look like whining of a nitpicker but the most relevant aspect of the cashless society is the tremendous power that the government will hold on the individual citizen. What about it ? How do you limit the ability of the government to use the payments system as an instrument to control the behavior of its citizens. Do you we really want the banks and the state to know every single detail of what we are spending our money on and where. It is very easy to say yes just to press for the cashless world and score debating points. But remember once you surrender that freedom –  it will be very difficult to get it back.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

False start

I am now able to handle the music.
No more of those evil chants
for me to bear with , anymore.
I can arrange all of  everything
as I do with the furniture .
Sometimes when I care
To look around them ,  dishevelled
I can feel the incompleteness
of the notations  that reverberate.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

I miss you

Why do I miss you
when deep inside I know that 
we will perhaps never meet again. 
It's been such a long time spent
with you and also without you
Sitting with you on that bench 
speaking to you in low hushed tones
laughing at your jokes, 
looking in your eyes.
Sharing those secrets with you 
and listening to your stories.
I miss them, I miss them all.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Feel the pain

Feel the pain
that completes you
Feel the pain,
that changes you.
Feel it inside,
through your veins.
Feel the pain,
that breaks you from within.
In moments of glory
feel the pain of the loser.
In the shattering defeat
feel the pain of trying hard.
Feel the pain all through the night
when  sleep eludes you.
Feel the pain of broken dreams,
in the busy chores of  the day.
Nothing else will matter,
when you can feel the pain.
You can try to run away
But you can never beat the pain.

Monday, 21 November 2016

A cursed life 10

The fire died down immediately and the monster too vanished. The most strange sight was unfolding before their eyes. A funnel shaped ray of light descended on the earth from the sky above and captured in the light was the ethereal form of Mahadev Shiva , with his telltale blue throat . His right palm was straightened in the gesture of granting a boon while on his left hand was the trident . Ashwathamma made a dash and lied on the ground . Kripa and Kritabarma too threw their weapons and fell themselves on the ground. All the three were in tears to behold this sight, which was beyond their wildest dreams. Their whole body tingled with a strange sensation as a tremendous energy got spread all around.

The face of Lord Shiva was filled with a childlike smile. A deep resonating voive echoed around them "Get up, O dear Ashwathamma . I am so pleased with your sacrifice. Perhaps you don't know, a part of me in my Maharudra avatar is already there in you. You have pleased me tonight with your prayers. i never return my followers empty handed from my presence. Ask for whatever you want.

Ashwathamma , still prone on the ground sobbed " O Lord, there is nothing that I have not received in this world, by your benevolence. Sighting you has been the best experience that can happen to anyone. I have got my salvation , Master . But I have only a very small thing to ask for. I have promised my king and to keep the promise I have to eneter the Pandava camp and fight with them. Remove the wall of safety which you offer them my Lord and let me enter. The rest I leave to my destiny and the strength in my arms."

Mahadev was still smiling "O brave son of Drona . I was guarding the Pandava camp on the request of Krishna only for the period of the war. Krishna is most dear to me by his truth , purity,sincerity,austerity, vows, forgiveness, devotion, patience, thought and words. There is no other person equivalent to him in this world. Protection of Panchalas was to honour him . But now, time has something else in store for them . No one can be ahead or behind time because destiny is written by time . The Panchalas have their time running out. And you are only a vessel to fulfill what their destiny has in store for them . Enter the camp, O son of Drona, for I will be with you till you come out of it".

The ethereal form contained in the light now fell directly on Ashwathamma and vanished as if soaked by his body which radiated with a brilliance and stood erect on his feet. It was an incredible sight for Kritabarma and Kripcharya to behold as a battle cry emanated from Ashwathamma , standing upright with his sword raised in his right hand . He turned around to them and said "O brave warriors, you need not enter the camp, for there is no way they can stop me now. Both of you stand guard here , at the entrance and make it sure that nobody comes out of the camp alive .

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

A cursed life 9

It was almost midnight when the three shadows emerged out from the darkness and stealthily approached the Pandava camp. Kripacharya and Kritavarma had followed Ashwathama. But both of them were very silent. As if they carried a heavy burden on their hearts. They had reached the camp from the other side. As they circled around the periphery and approached the gate they saw something which was totally unexpected for them. The sight was as diabolical and fearsome to bring shivers, even to the bravest.

Standing guard in front of the main entrance to the camp was a gigantic figure. A dazzling bright halo surrounded the person. A loin cloth made of tiger skin was draped around his waist and a deer skin adorned the upper torso. A huge hissing snake was thrown across his shoulders like the sacred thread of the Brahmins. He seemed to have many hands, each of them holding a deadly looking weapon. Fire belched out of his open mouth and nostrils there was a big eye at the centre of his forehead which rotated. All in all it was a grotesque yet fascinating sight to behold.

Ordinary mortals would have fainted at the sight but these three were among the elite fighters in the whole of Aryavarta. They immediately brought out their bows and invoking different mantras started aiming arrows at the figure. But all their efforts went in vain. The monstrous apparition devoured all their weapons. Ashwathama aimed a blazing javelin; it just broke into pieces like a falling meteor. All the three of them were surprised. They could not understand what really was happening. Kripacharya and Kritavarma were retracing their steps back but Ashwathama brought out his sword and holding it high above his head recited a mantra learned from his father. The sword blazed with blue lightning. Aiming the sword straight, he threw it to pierce the body of the unknown monster. But the sword just broke into smithereen like a sparkler.

Filled with anger at this obstacle to his purpose, Ashwathama used an array of weapons on the strange figure. But nothing appeared to bother it. But it was also not attacking them. Feeling dejected, he turned back at the two warriors for support.

Kripa shouted at him “O mighty son of Drona , I had already warned you about the fallacy of considering human effort to be supreme over destiny. We seem to be wasting our time in attacking this person. For surely it can’t be anything human or Rakshas. It must be a divine intervention which stands guard against anyone trying to attack the Pandava camp. I again ask you to reconsider your decision and step back from this frenzy that has you in its grip.”

Ashwathama was surprisingly calm now. He replied, “Uncle, I cannot go back from this point. I have vowed to decimate the Pandavas and that will happen tonight. Or else I will sacrifice myself here in front of this divine spirit who keeps watch upon their camp.”

Saying this, he kneeled on the ground and closed his eyes reciting verses invoking Lord Mahadeva “O great Sankara, the creator and Lord of this universe. You hold the reins of this universe. People know you by many names. The most benevolent of powers and the source of all energy, your devotee Ashwathama has many impurities and negatives in him. Nothing is beyond your knowledge, my Lord. I have promised to my dear friend and benefactor, king Duryodhana that I will avenge his death. Resolving so, I have come to this point. Help me Lord; remove all obstacles from my path. If you don’t help me now, I will understand that being of an impure soul; I can’t receive the shower of your benevolent blessings on myself. I am ready to sacrifice myself and purify my soul to do penance for all the actions that I may have committed in my lifetime and achieve eternal salvation at your altar.”

The moment he said this, a large altar of fire appeared from nowhere and lit itself up in flames leaping up the sky. Along with that numerous strange animals appeared all around him. They were of different shapes, sizes and varieties. In a cacophonous unison they approached him from all directions in a menacing way, as if to devour him or tear him into faces. It was frightening and any normal human would have been terrified beyond his wits. Seeing them, even Kripa and Kritavarma hastily stepped back for cover, not knowing what to do. But Ashwathama was calm.

Bowing down before the altar of fire he said “O great Lord, I am just a toy in your hands. You who his child-like in his innocence yet combine the fury of thunder and earthquake in your anger. You, who pardon all with a smile, destroy all with your wrath. King of kings, you who live like a beggar and have only a tiger-skin to cover your body smeared with ash, I pray to thee. Take me Lord under your tutelage. Permit me to complete my vow or let me leave this mortal body here and purify my soul.”

Saying this, he stepped into the altar with his palms folded in a pose of worship. Before the eyes of his two companions, his form was engulfed by the raging flames.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A cursed life 8

Only a few Kroshas away, even less than a Yojan of distance from the forest lay the Pandava camp. The atmosphere there was still jubilant and raucous but slowly the revelry was ebbing due to tiredness and the female Dasis serving the soldiers with their warm bodies. The commander, the mighty Dhrishtadumnya himself had gone around and visited their tents and in some places shared wine with the seniors. He was himself very happy and allowed the Dasis inside the tent today. The war was over for them and they were the lucky ones to survive it. Soon, they would return to their homes.

After the felling of Duryodhana, Yudishthira decided to stay the night at his capital Indraprastha with his brothers. He had a lot of planning to do. Along with his brothers, he needed to assure the entire Aryavarta about the continuity. Most of the kings and warriors who took part in the great war, either for the Pandavas or the Kauravas have met their fate on the battlefield. It was necessary to appoint kings and governors in various places in consultation with Krishna and Vidura. And he was to perform the awkward ritual of visiting his uncle emperor Dhritarashtra and the empress Gandhari. This was the most difficult of formalities which he dreaded.
So Yudhisthira along with his brothers and Krishna had left the camp. When Satyaki learnt this, he too accompanied them. Everyone understood why. There was no love lost between Satyaki and Dhristadumnya and it would really be a miracle if they would not come to blows if left together. Satyaki the unconquered was the only Maharathi other than Dhristadumnya from the Pandava side to have survived the war. But he was a loner. Unlike other great warriors, he did not join the war with his own band of supporters. Because his clan the Vrishnis were all fighting the war under the command of Kritavarma.

The Pandava army were majorly composed of the Panchalas and the Matsyas, the two kingdoms who were solidly behind them by relations of marriage. The Panchalas under king Drupad were the major source of support as Draupadi was their daughter. The king Virat of Matsya who died in the war along with his son was father of Uttara, the princess who was the wife of Abhimanyu. Pandavas by themselves had a much smaller army and it was rendered much smaller by the war.
With the five Pandava brothers away along with Krishna and Satyaki the mood in the camp was less formal and the binge drinking started quite early. The five sons of Draupadi, each from her five husbands were great followers of their uncle Dhristadumnya and instead of visiting their mother at Indraprastha, chose to stay back and join the revelry inside the camp. The soldiers had seen the most terrible carnage for the last eighteen days and now as the war ended they wanted to drown themselves and forget the dreadful memories of the war. By the nightfall most of them were too asleep, too drunk to move or enjoying coitus with the maidservants.

Dhristadumnya himself was fully inebriated and lying on the couch as the Dasis gave him foot massage. He had visited the quarters of Shikhandi, his hermaphrodite sibling and discussed about the future plans. He had instructed Shikhandi to start for Panchal the next day itself and take care of the kingdom till he returned. As the commander of the Pandava army it was his duty to set things right and assist Bheema and Arjuna to take over the kingdoms of the fallen kings. But as it happened, half of his own country Panchala was still under the rule of Ashwathama, his sworn enemy.

Deep inside him Dhristadumnya had a cruel personality hid behind a suave exterior refined by the upbringing of a prince. It was not entirely his fault. For he was born of this dark desire for vengeance. King Drupad begot him from the fires of the altar to fulfill his revenge on Drona. And he was drilled with this thought. In spite of being taught by Drona, he hated him from within because what he did to his father. Together the three siblings, himself, Draupadi and Shikhandi were vessels of destruction. Destruction of Hastinapur, death of Drona, death of Bheeshma. Their own father died in the war but they survived. Completing what fate had destined for them. And now each of them were poised to play their part in the post war situation. His father must be smiling in heaven.

The soft fingers of the Dasis were working on his battle ravaged body and the effect of wine had dulled him. But he could not sleep by himself. A lot of thoughts crisscrossed his mind. He was thinking about Satyaki and Ashwathama alternately. He considered both of them as his enemy. Ashwathama was an old enemy by virtue of their individual parentage. But with Satyaki, the matter was slightly different. He never liked the loner Satyaki. The only Yadav from the Vrishni clan to take up arms in support of the Pandavas.

Satyaki had joined the Pandavas out of his respect and affiliation to Arjuna and Abhimanyu. In the intricate political mosaic of the Indraprastha court, Abhimanyu was always considered as the chosen one. And Satyaki was a Maharathi too. just like Kritavarma on the Kaurava army. He never gave Dhrishtadumnya the respect as the commander of the army and took his orders from Arjuna. The Panchala prince bore it without showing his displeasure. On the surface both maintained a formal and civil relation for the sake of unity.

But the thin veneer of formality broke the day he killed Drona, his father's slayer. As Drona sat on the battlefield mourning the news of his son's death, falsely informed by Dharmaraj Yudhishthir, Dhrishtadumnya saw his chance to avenge his father's death. With a swift flow of his sword. he finished off the enemy. The same person who taught him how not to show mercy on the enemy in the battlefield. What followed was unbelievable. Instead of applauding him, the Pandavas roundly castigated him for this and accused him of the crime of Mahapatak - the killing of their teacher. But what else could he do. Drona was reducing the number of Pandava army with his waves of attacks and their was a direct danger of the tide turning in favour of the Kauravas. As the commander of the army, he did what he thought best.

But Satyaki was enraged . He abused him with the vilest words and had challenged him to a duel. Even Arjuna supported him, for he was the favourite student of Drona. The same Drona who was one of the seven warriors who entrapped his son Abhimanyu and killed him in an unequal fight, against all norms of warfare. But Krishna intervened and stopped the imminent duel between the two. They embraced each other and truce was called but the animosity between them was now firmly established. Since then, they did not cross each other's path. And it was good that Satyaki chose not to stay in the camp. He will deal with Satyaki later. He needed to savour this hard fought win. Leading an army of seven aukshahini he defeated the the Kauravas with eleven aukshahini strength.

He reached for the young Dasi . Tonight he would enjoy this nubile young girl. And then if he felt the need, he could have another. Tomorrow would be another day.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

A cursed life 7

Listening to them, Ashwathama was infuriated. His jaws tightened - Both of them are trying to stall my decision - he thought by himself. But he was far too intelligent to give vent to his rage on them. After all, they were the only persons standing by him and he needed their cooperation to make his plan work tonight. 

Addressing them both, he said “What you say is true to a great extent, o experienced ones, but realise this. The faculty of comprehension varies from man to man. But then, everyone is satisfied with his own interpretation of events. Each one has a higher regard for their own intellectual ability and therefore anyone whose judgement concurs with that interpretation is applauded and is accepted.  And as human nature is as diverse as the number of people, very often the judgements passed by different people also vary in their substance. People try to judge situations on the basis of their experiences which may not necessarily be the correct process.  Along with that we find that the level of understanding also varies with age. What is acceptable in the youth may not remain so in the middle ages, for a person. Then the situations cloud our understandings too. Terrible distress or unbounded joy can afflict us all in examining a situation.”

In the stillness of the night his voice was distinct “O respected warriors, all persons start an endeavour with the hope that they would succeed, even if it is fraught with great risks. It is the positive state of mind that   helps us to embark upon tasks that seem as insurmountable obstacles.  What I have resolved today is the only way to account for the ravages of the war and dispel our gloom. I can speak for myself. Even though I was born in a high class Brahmin family, I have chosen the occupation of a Kshatriya. But I have not forgotten my duties as a Brahmin, which tells me that I need to achieve a higher meaning of my life. I have one of the best bows among the mankind and almost all the lethal arms are in my collection. Now even with such endowment that I have, if I do not avenge my master then how do I show my face to this world. Therefore I must don the battle dress and walk into this darkness to avenge my master.”

“I tell you, these Panchala dogs will all be tired and sleeping heavily after the elation of victory. And this will be our best chance to take them by surprise. I assure you that we can wipe out the entire forces by tonight. And after we cut the heads of the Pandavas and exterminate them like vermins, we can prove our commitment to the Kaurava flag.”
From his demeanour, Kripacharya sensed his urgency. Knowing Ashwathama from his childhood, he knew that it would be well nigh impossible to stop him. One could try to dam a mighty river in floods but not an enraged Ashwathama. When angered, he could be the most difficult person to deal with. So he tried to mollify his nephew.

“ My son “ he started “ It is good that your heart is lit with the flames of vengeance. I know it for sure that when you begin your campaign, even the thunderbolts cannot stop you from achieving what you set out for. I am with you and so is the mighty Kritavarma. We will accompany you and slay our enemies. Tomorrow at dawn , we ride with you leading us .  Take rest tonight. You have also been awake awake for many a night . So put off your armour and relax a little  to rejuvenate yourself .”

Kritavarma too supported him “O leader, the Gods are witness to the fact that the united force of three of us can smash any opposition to smithereens. Yes sir, we will unleash carnage on the battlefield which this world has never seen before. For thousands of years to come, stories of our bravery will be sung by mothers to their sons. But pray take rest to clear the cobwebs of the mind so that we can concentrate on the task at hand, tomorrow morning. “
Ashwathama could barely control his anger. His feverish mind did not register the sane advices by the two men. His eyes were now burning in a rage. “How can you ask me to sleep, dear uncle. Knowing full well how I am feeling and what goes on within my heart. My senses are wounded by the death of my father at the hands of that sinful wretch and I cannot bear the thought of carrying on with this life without having slain Dhristadumnya. Or till I honour my word which I promised to my king lying there with his thighs broke, in the most heinous way.  The enemies are protected by the might of Arjuna and the guiles of his mentor Krishna. It will be difficult to beat them on the grounds of this Kurukhsetra. I cannot live with the searing pain of not avenging the deaths of  my father and  benefactor. So it has to be tonight that we attack.”

Kripa was now sombre “My son, any person who does not possess intelligence and have no control over his passions will never be of any use even if he is morally superior and a good servant. Similarly a brave man who does not practice humility fails to understand the settled conclusions of morality. Only the person endowed with intelligence who can keep his passions under control can exercise humility and succeeds in knowing what should be done, just as the tongue tastes the juice. A reckless person who does not respect good counsel and is bent upon a course of action to suit only his interests by disregarding destiny can only invite his downfall. It is the duty of friends and well-wishers to dissuade a person embarking upon a journey of self destruction.”

“O, great warrior. The world looks down upon the slaughter of sleeping persons and those who surrender. No texts or scriptures permit such hostility. Doing so will surely bring disrepute in this life and the invitation for the fires of hell in the afterlife. You are a man celebrated for your bravery, courage and the array of weapons that you command is unparalleled, even by Arjuna or the late Karna. So don’t let impatience take over you. This deed which you propose will be a blot of sin on your entire life, pure and white as snow. Wait for the dawn and challenge your enemy to a face to face battle under the sun.”

Ashwathama decided to seal the matter. Arguing with his uncle would make him lose precious time. He started walking towards his steed. Turning back he addressed them in a voice, clear of all doubts “ Respected uncle , O brave scion of Brishni , I do not want to repeat my arguments. The Pandava forces , assisted by the Panchalas and the Matsyas have transgressed all considerations . I do not care what destiny holds for me. It does not matter to me anymore; whether I will be born as a worm or as an insect in my next life. Iam on my way to complete my resolution. As the commander of the Kaurava army, I call upon you to follow me. But leave it upon you to decide on it. With you or without you, I will destruct the enemy tonight.

He said no more. Gathering his arms and mounting his horse, he nudged it forward, with an open scimitar in his right hand raised above his head. Both Kripa and Kritavarma tried to dissuade him with fervent words of advice, beseeching him to wait. But  he had now crossed over the line of reasoning . No one could stop him, anymore. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

A cursed life 6

Ashwathama felt the rush of excitement within him. As the idea flashed upon his mind, he could not contain himself. Involuntarily he started pacing in a circle, around the tree, oblivious of the situation. Even with the slightly chilly winds blowing, he was perspiring. Kripacharya observed him. In a gentle voice he called him “Come on, son. You need some rest to revitalise yourself.”

He stopped suddenly and came up to both of them. “Yes, uncle, we can do it. We can be like the owl and hunt them, in the darkness of the night. “His voice was in a whisper but very distinct. Both Kripa and Kritavarma were jolted out of their blankness of mind. They could not see each other’s face distinctly in the darkness.

Ashwathama went on in a low but excited voice, as if speaking to himself “Don’t you see? O mighty Kritavarma, the scourge of enemies on the battlefield. The owl has been sent by the heavens to show us a way. Blessed be the forefathers dwelling in the stars, who had been kind enough to guide us on our road to vengeance. Our hearts are burning with the fires of revenge, for which the time is ripe. And the time is now. We must start this very moment”.

Seeing them silent, he continued “I have great reliance and faith on the abilities of our trio, as together we are like the trident of the Lord Mahadeva, his blessings be on us. But at the same time, I am realistic about our chances. The Pandavas are not like ordinary kings or princes that we have slain before. We may not be able to harm them on the battlefield. And they have the support of the scheming Krishna to help them. But we have already vowed before our king Duryodhana, who may not remain with us for long. We also have to keep our solemn word..”

“Taking them on the battlefield will be an act like ants rushing towards the blazing fire. We have to use cunningness and guile to defeat the enemy of such multifarious talents as the Pandavas, considering that we do not have an army with us. Only this way can we be sure of a degree of success. I don’t care about what the scriptures and textbooks say about the war and I have read quite a few of them in my lifetime. The only certainty in a war is that someone ends up on the winning side. Scriptures and laws are written by the winners. And I want to be on the winning side, whatever I have to do for that, I will do.”

Kripa started to say something, but Ashwathama was not finished yet. Raising his hand, in a sign of impatience he carried on with his monologue “O uncle, Kripacharya. You are the repository of knowledge and the princes were your own students, even before me or my slain father came into contact with them. Along with the great Vidura and Pitamaha Bheesma, you must have given them umpteen numbers of lessons in ethics and morality. Then tell me why the Pandavas resorted to all those trickeries in the battlefield. If indeed they followed the rules of Dharmayudha, Why did they fell the greatest of the warriors, their own grandfather by hiding behind Shikhandi? What was their motive in lying to their revered Guru? And do not forget, they gave no chance to brave Karna, who was on foot when he was killed . My friend and master the mighty Duryodhana was invincible in the fight with maces. They killed him brutally by hitting him below the navel. Our scriptures have decided justice based on the grievousness of the error. Correct me if I’m wrong ‘but I remember clearly what I’ve learnt – The enemy’s forces , even when fatigued or wounded, eating or retiring or resting within the confines of their camp should be destroyed.”

He stopped for a fraction and then said in a deeper voice” There is nothing wrong in attacking them now when they are sleeping. This is the only way that our resolution to destruct them completely can be achieved. “

Both of the warriors listened to him with their heads bowed down. They could not believe their own ears . They said nothing and kept still . But their silence spoke a thousand words. Even in the darkness, the language of their taut bodies gave away their revulsion to hear out such a proposal, as outlined before them. Ashwathama understood their sense of dismay. These were, after all the cream of the elite Kaurava warriors, grown up on the highest principles of war and ethics. He had another way to try out his proposal before he forced them to obey his diktat as their commander, for they were bound by their words to follow him.

Speaking softly and a voice filled with emotion he started “We are fighting this war to establish the glory of our Lord and King , the great Duryodhana, who was my hero and my friend. He lies there, gasping his last breath. The master who mobilised eleven akshauhinis of troops at his clarion call now lies fallen among the dead bodies of his great army, nothing worthwhile of which remains anymore. Struck down by the evil tactics of that glutton Bheema who was cheered by the assembled carrion of Panchala troops. They were jeering our fallen king by blowing conch shells and beating their drums. The sound of their obscene jubilation and laughter that carried far and wide in the winds was deafening. Till a little while ago we could hear it. “

Then with a choked voice he appealed to them “Very rarely have we seen or heard of such a havoc. We are the only three persons unconquered. But we had the stalwarts on our side. Make no mistake, dear uncle and O great Yadava scion, they were all Maharathis. Some were endowed with the strength of hundred elephants, some were master of all weapons, yet some were invincible. But time reversed everything and there they are , slain at the hands of the sons of King Pandu . But still we are left unharmed. There must be a deeper reason for this. Pray, tell me. Break your silence and guide me, I beseech you. “

Kripacharya broke his silence "Ashwathama, my son, I can well understand what is going through your mind. You are now the leader of the Kaurava army and it is my duty to follow you. But this old man has something to tell you my dear nephew. I've been advising the king and princes of Hastinapur and you too shall not be bereft of my experience and knowledge."

He continued " O mighty warrior , son of the great Drona, mark my words. In our lives we have to achieve a balance between our destiny and our efforts because both are complementary. To achieve success in our lives ,we need to create a union of them both. For neither of them can deserve sole credit for what we become. All our purpose of living is subsumed into managing them in good proportions. Our actions as also our abstentions are to be seen through the crystal of these two attributes. Nothing can be achieved by clouds that pour on a mountain top. But the same cloud can produce a great harvest when it rains on a cultivated field. Without destiny all our endeavours come to a nought and again in spite of our efforts nothing happens unless it is in our destiny. The exertions of a competent person with all the skills even when well directed will bear no fruit without the concurrence of destiny. But it does not behove of men of intelligence to sit idle and wait for destiny to unfold. The absence of action brings misery upon us."

He stopped for a moment and said “Between the impatience of action and the inevitability of destiny lies the conscience which helps us in choosing the right direction to shape our course of life. Often we need wiser counsel from the experienced to seek accomplishment of the purpose of our lives. Duryodhana was my student and the king for whom I fought the war. But I am constrained to say that he has never paid heed to the wise counsel provided to him by the elders. In his blind pursuit of his selfish purposes, he chose to disregard all those who dissuaded him from the path of hostilities with the Pandavas. The catastrophe that has befallen him is nothing but a product of his efforts along the wrong path that he chose to follow his destiny."

Kritavarma nodded. Coming over his stoic silence he spoke " I am not an educated person nor from a background of princely status. Whatever I have learnt has been from the harsh experience of life. But I can say this, O worthy son of Drona, this war has taken a heavy toll on the warriors of this great land and not only confined to Hastinapur alone. Though I offer my unflinching support and loyalty to you, as a soldier, I want to fight my opponents face to face on the battlefield and if defeated attain heaven. There is no place to carry personal grudges because all these acts of revenge create new wounds instead of closing the old ones. I too think that we can do with some good advice from the wise ones before we continue with the hostilities. That is my humble submission." He stopped rather overwhelmed by his own comments.

Kripa said again" Let us go and meet old king Dhritarashtra and the queen mother Gandhari. Let us consult them and ask from the wise minister Vidura on our next course of action."

Sunday, 6 November 2016

A cursed life 5

He came out in the open from the dark shade of the tree and looked up the sky. The night was clear and the stars were shining brightly. Somewhere there in the constellation of stars his fate was ordained. Involuntarily, he touched his forehead. The glassy touch on the lump that lay hidden under his long hairs reminded him of his unnatural physical characteristic, which people talked about in hushed tones behind him. He was used to such talks from his childhood and therefore made a habit of not tying his locks and let hang over his forehead, often covering his face. In his childhood the other boys were inquisitive about the piece of red ruby that was embedded on the front of his head, just above the forehead. He too wanted to know the reason for this strange stone as a part of his body.

 His parents had no answer to his queries. But his mother used to tell him stories about his father’s penance and prayers to Lord Shiva in order to beget a son worthy to be called a great man in true sense. Though his father never disclosed anything to him or his mother, it was widely believed that Ashwathama was born as a boon that his father received from Mahadeva and indeed his mother always believed him to be a Rudra incarnate, given his temper.

But there were other facets of his personality that made his parents truly proud of him. He was the model son and never hurt the feelings of his parents. Even after witnessing poverty and then living the lavish life of an army commander in Hastinapura, he never indulged in the princely habits of debauchery. His simple life and piety made him stand out even in the presence of kings and above all, was his loyalty. Duryodhana knew this very well and trusted him as much as his own brother Dushshasana. 

Thinking about Dushshasana and the way he was killed made him wince. For he was a dear friend too. And inspite of his failings, he was a great warrior. He did not deserve to be killed in the way he was. Had Bheema’s son Ghatotkoch, the rakshasha born  killed him, it could be justified ;  but the way Bheema killed him with his bare hands and then ripped apart his heart to squeeze blood out of it for Draupadi to wet her hairs, was beyond anything human .

But then , the Pandavas repeatedly broke the rules in this war . And it was Keshava  , Krishna who guided them in this. Ashwathama always had a great regard for Krishna but after eighteen days of war, he was surprised with all the chicanery that the great man resorted to. Inspite of not participating in the war as a warrior, he was the force behind the Pandavas . They called it Dharmayudha but used all the foul means to defeat their enemies.  

His sixth sense was alerted with the sound of something approaching. The big owl flapped its wings and circled the tree. Then suddenly it dived into the darkness of the tree and attacked the crows sleeping, on the branches there. A lot of screeches and squeals from the crows could be heard. The owl was attacking them ferociously and killing them, with its sharp beaks and talons. Bodies of crows killed by the owl were falling down and the whole tree was alive with raucous sounds of the crows that were fleeing the tree in droves.

Both Kripa and Kritavarma were now on their feet, disturbed by the sounds. They joined him and looked at the scene above, peering through the darkness. Presently the owl flew away and the noise subsided partly.  But his mind was now in utter chaos as an idea leapt there, like a naked flame. 

Random musings

14122016All of us may not have forgotten the recent spate of violence in Kashmir and how it was played up by different organisations and people with their vested interests. Burhan Wani, said to be a Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant was killed by the security forces in an encounter on 8 July this year. His killing  triggered a long spell of  unrest in Kashmir, necessitating imposition of curfew across the valley for more than three months at a stretch.
 News reports mention that the Jammu and Kashmir government has now cleared ex-gratia payment for the next of kin of 17 people who were killed in various militancy-related incidents in the Valley,  over a period of time . It is very interesting to note that the list of those killed include Khalid Muzaffar , the brother of Burhan Wani .   Khalid Muzaffar was killed on 13th April 2015 by the army in the forests of Tral. Army termed Khalid a militant and said he was killed in an encounter. But his family and the villagers of Tral disagreed. The father of the deceased, Muzaffar Ahmad Wani at that time said his son was “tortured to death” because his younger brother Burhan Wani is a militant. Terming the death as a custodial killing , he had questioned “If my son was killed in an encounter then why his body didn’t bear a bullet wound ?”
 The killing of many youths by the armed forces in Kashmir has often been mired in controversies because the nature of these so called encounters. Rightly or wrongly, there has always been the suspicion of foul play and the arbitrary extra judicial nature of such deaths have been stressed time and again by various Human rights organisations , Kashmiris as well as many non-Kashmiri Indians. On the other side there are quite a significant number of people who justify these “encounters” as the only solution against terrorism. We may remember how the Kashmir incident raised a groundswell of patriotism and nationalism earlier this year among Indians , when they were not busy with their preoccupation of exchanging  or withdrawing currency notes from Banks and ATMs across the country. The ruling party BJP, true to its platform of nationalism tried to build up a wave of support for itself by using the difficulties faced by the armed forces in containing the terrorism in Kashmir. Anybody feeling any sympathy with the Kashmiris or trying to put the actions of the armed forces in the proper perspective was immediately dubbed as anti national.
 Therefore it is very strange that The J&K Government , of which BJP is a part has taken the decision to compensate the family of a “terrorist” killed by an Army “encounter”.  Let us consider the facts1.      The act of paying compensation itself is an acknowledgement that the killing of the deceased Khalid Muzaffar by the army was a mistake and gross abuse of fundamental and human rights .
2.      The BJP being a partner of the coalition government in J&K  cannot evade the responsibility of being a party to this decision of paying compensation to the kin  of a “terrorist”.
3.      If Khalid was really a terrorist then what is the effect of such compensation on the morale of the armed forces engaged in fighting terrorists in J&K ?
4.      If Khalid was not a terrorist then what action has been taken against the armed forces personnel who were responsible for the alleged “custodial death”.
5.      Does the BJP support the J&K government’s decision of paying compensation and accept that Khalid was not a terrorist ?
6.      If it does support the J&K Government’s decision, then does it condemn the action by the armed forces and will the Defence minister order an enquiry into the incident ?
7.      If it does not support the J&K government’s decision then why does it continue as a partner in the government ?
8.      Why doesn’t the Central Government dissolve the J&K government for showing sympathy to the terrorists ?
 Those who are ambivalent or maintain their neutrality in all matters , I ask them – If this is not the example of political expediency then what is ? Running with the hares and hunting with the hounds has always been the credo of BJP and its leaders. Do you still believe in this government ? Are you sure that in a given situation the armed forces will not mete out the same treatment to your own family member if they are given such wide ranging powers?  Do you realise that the BJP and its government is lying and fooling us with their every action that they try to package as a great thing for the nation. If you have a small amount of consciousness left in you please protest, in your own way against such duplicity . Call their bluff. There are many BJP supporting Bhakts  whose heart bleed at the tiniest barb aimed at the wrong doing of the armed forces or the BJP government. There are diehard nationalists who keep no stones unturned in their efforts to label, vilify , attack and suggest stringent punishments for people like me whom they dub as anti-nationals . These are great patriots whose sole aim of life is to prove and project the greatness of only one person who is otherwise busy projecting himself. Will these worthies please come forward and give their considered views on the subject matter, without trivialising, without bringing in extraneous references to people and parties and without invoking the last seven decades. Because, I am sick of your diversionary tactics and limited premise of discussion which only  showcases your intellectual deprivation. 


#ChoRamaswamy Death of a person at the ripe old age of 82 and after a spell of debilitating  ill health may probably a welcome relief . Our scriptures also tells us not to mourn for a life lived to its full.  But this death needs to be mourned. For Cho Ramaswamy was a towering intellect and thought leader of our times. Comedy, satire and sarcasm  has always been the best form of feedback on the society, its politics, rulers and people. Cho was perhaps one of the best, if not the best purveyor of this art. The sheer range of his creative talent itself is wide and all encompassing. The words that he used were as much  acidic as  sharp was his pen. And he did not spare anybody. That was his speciality.

Perhaps the Tamil speaking people  will be in a better position to have felt his total personality . We the non Tamil speaking people could only get glimpses of his razor sharp brain and witty humour through his articles, statements and interviews and of course the occasional cartoon on the front page of Tughlaq .  His defiance and the subsequent persecution during Emergency of 1975 will always be remembered. His publication Tughlaq was stopped and when  the publication resumed after the first two weeks of emergency, the issue was published with a black front cover.

Just imagine – he has been active an actor, comedian, editor, political satirist, playwright ,  dialogue writer, film director and lawyer for over five decades. I can only wonder with awe at the vast creative and intellectual power that he  was endowed with.  Personally I may not have liked many of his associations, philosophy or viewpoint but feel sad on hearing the news of his death. I don’t know whether the funny looking man with a bald pate believed in after life, soul or spiritual things. But let him rest in peace. It will be very difficult to get another one like him.  


#Justsaying. The preamble on the RBI website says - To regulate the issue of Bank notes and the keeping of reserves with a view to securing monetary stability in India and generally to operate the currency and credit system of the country to its advantage”. Please don't laugh after reading this. 

#Randomthoughts. Yesterday I was dwelling upon the inevitability of death in a serious vein. Today,two separate news items that I read in the newspaper makes me continue with the intriguing subject, though in a lesser serious vein.
The first report says that a man in Chennai , who was walking on the railway tracks, tried to save himself from an approaching train by jumping into the river. He got stuck in the slushy mud and died.
The second item mentions a man in Pune who jumped into a tiger's enclosure at a zoo , probably trying to kill himself. The tiger had just finished a full meal . So the animal did nothing and the man lives.
All these may sound like scenes out of the movie Final Destination and it's many sequels. But I think these examples prove that our lives are entwined with that nebulous something called fate. Otherwise, it is very difficult to explain why a person, eager to die, continues to live and those who want to live have to die.
A case in point may be the demise of the great Fidel Castro, who died at the ripe old age of 90 due to geriatric reasons. It is said that there were more than 200 attempts on his life made by the USA. Well, I can't verify that but it appears true to me. Even if we take that there were two attempts made by the most powerful state apparatus on the head of state of a small neighbouring country , it sounds quite a remarkable feat that he survived them and lived upto his senile , bedridden days of old age and died a natural death.
Closer home, we have the examples of our ex PM Shri Vajpayee and ex Defence minister Shri Fernandes still carrying on , away from the prying eyes at advanced stages of their lives. They are supposed to be in very bad shape. But they continue to live. Then consider another politician Shri Priya ranjan Das munshi who has been in a vegetative state for about a decade or more. Maybe good health care is helping them to survive. Maybe it will sound brutally impolite to wish them relief from their bedridden existence. But the bottom line is that their time has not yet come.
Personally I know of quite a few number of such cases where people continue to live, somewhat interminably. On the flip side I also know of so many deaths which were sudden and out of the blue. Often I have thought how it would be if the life, in obvious misery, could be supplanted to the one who could have more use for it. But that is only a wishful thought , nothing more.
Maybe our lives are part of puzzles which complete other lives. We may not be aware of it but there is a sense of completeness that others feel in our presence. So we live. In misery or in glory ,we are just witness to whatever that happens.


#Randomthoughts The unpredictability and the inevitability of life is perhaps best reflected in its antithesis, death . So everytime that we experience a death from a little too close,it makes us a little more mature in our thoughts.
All these thoughts came to me while I was at a crematorium today for the last rites of a friend's wife.Sometimes death gives us an insight into life. As the fire was lit to the pyre by her son , the sobbing daughter and the forlorn husband made me realise that even as the central point of their lives may be missing from now on, they have to live. Because life prevails over death inspite of its inevitability.


#Randomthoughts The food habits which we have in India presently is largely influenced by the foreign invasions and colonial rule that we were subjected to. The diehard nationalist puritanical Bhakt may not even be aware that most of the common vegetables that (s)he swears by, has its own story. These food items have slowly integrated themselves with the soil, habits, culture of our land and have now become indistinguishable. Farmers who produce them are not aware about their foreign origins. Actually, with the rampant use of hybrid and genetically modified seeds, it will be very difficult to single out fruits ,vegetables and plants that are originally from this land. And this may be true for all countries; not only limited to us.

So sometimes, I find it very amusing to see certain food items being offered as Prasad during religious functions and suddenly the question that comes to my mind is – What were the fruits and vegetables that Rama would have eaten during his exile along with Sita and Lakshman.  Now there are some people who believe that Rama was indeed a historical figure and also designate a certain place as his birthplace.  But strangely they will not be  able to answer to questions about the dress, food, lifestyle of that period. All that we have as records are mythical literary creations. Based on myths  if someone has a religious affinity, I don’t mind. Frankly, I am not bothered too unless someone forces me to believe that it is authentic history.

Coming back to the subject of foreign influences on food, how many of us are really aware that the fruit named “Sitaphal” or custard apple probably has nothing to do with Sita because it was introduced to India by the Portugese , that too from South America.  The Portugese that way were  great believers of cross breeding , be it plants, animals or humans.  They have spread the seeds all across the world and have changed the course of culture, dress and food habits across the globe. The Indian housewife who cannot think of cooking without Potato and Tomato must know that even five hundred years back, these vegetables were not to be found in our country. They are again imports from South America by the Portugese. Actually the Spanish and Portugese influences had brought exotic South American flora to our country. Take Papaya for instance or chillies , for that matter.  Now that brings another doubt to my mind.  When we say Chillies are an import from South America , do we factor in  Bhoot Jalokia of Assam or Dalle of Darjeeling . Are these varieties also imported? Do we have any authentic proof on their ancestory ?

That way, sabudana or cassava seeds that is used by many religious people as a substitute for Anna (Grain food) during pujas too is another import. Our Tea, Coffee and Tobacco industries are all based on agriculture of such foreign influences. The only Desi weed we should be proud of is Ganja (Marijuana) . Bam Bhole . At least there is reference of Ganjika seva by Lord Shiva. See,  that’s the reason I like this God as the best.

So the next time some fraud Baba , Doctor or beauty specialist prescribe you treatment through herbal naturopathy, be sure that they know their job and the plant or fruit is listed in old scriptures. And basically don’t have too much hang-ups about Swadeshi type theories. We are a melting pot of cross bred habits, food , plants, flowers, languages, races, culture and that is the only way to progress ; rather than being tied to something specific. The Batata in the Vada and the loaf of Pav are both Videshi but the Swadeshi Manus is ready to fight for the local identity of Vada Pav. So strangely surreal !!!


"We are going towards a new economic independence. In this battle for economic independence, the person who stands with Modiji for the next 50 days will become a soldier in this battle, and the one who does not stand with the PM will be against this country." “

"Now, you have to decide whether you want to become a soldier in the battle for economic freedom or whether you want to become a 'desh virodhak' (those against the country)."

"We all should stand with Modiji for the next 50 days and win this decisive battle against black money.”


There are so many type of plants and trees around us; so many type of birds. I only know the names of a few. My ignorance is larger than my ego.


I have a strong feeling that the decision on scrapping currency notes of Rs 500& 1000 will soon be "Rolled back","Extended" or "Amended" after a "Review". The only thing which they are waiting for is some face saver event to happen.Which ,if it happens will actually be a shame. Because all said and done, this fracas which have ensued could have been well avoided with some careful planning and coordination.
This is a lesson for everybody to realise what happens when the decision makers get blinded by the need to satisfy their ego and the narcissistic propaganda to prove their superiority over others. The reverse inferiority complex. This also emphasises the requirement of independent institutions who can speak out their mind and curb the irrational exuberance of supporters. The role of RBI in advising the government properly in this whole issue is suspect. Whether their recommendations are paid heed to is another matter altogether.
Personally speaking and contrary to what some people may like to believe, as a citizen of the country I do support any government initiative to curb the menace of black money and corruption. Like I had supported the "Swatchh Bharat" and "Yoga day" initiatives before this . Sadly the implementation of both those programs have proved that they have been each an exercise in hype, only. That took about two years to realise. These programs were insincere efforts to get publicity and then put the onus on the people to carry it forward and take governmental credit for public participation. But the currency demonetisation has proved to be a shoddy work and unplanned, hurried implementation of a good idea. Within two days, the realisation has set in that it is a botched job.
If I speak about myself - I come from a middle class family. My father and grandfather were employed in private service, like me. So do my son. All our family income for these four generations have been earned without corruption or unaccounted means. Maybe we have abetted corruption and black money in the system by a trifle, if we consider the sundry bribes paid in cash without insisting for a receipt. Neither do we ever had a large amount of cash stashed in our homes, firstly because we never had so much of it and more importantly, we have always enjoyed a good credit in the market due to our steady income from service. So scrapping of notes had not bothered us earlier nor has it been an inconvenience this time too.
And we are also theoretically and primarily not affected too much by the scarcity of currency notes because perhaps we live on the right side of the digital divide. Living in a metropolis, that too a designated "smart city" (by the way, another hype), I really do not have to bother about paying in cash other than the rickshaw fares for local travel, if I do not want to drive, that is. Today I found to my pleasant surprise that the local fishseller Pilu is also accepting credit cards as a form of payment. That nearly seals it.
So I am not touched at all by the decision immediately. I have no reasons to complain. Then why am I cribbing? I am cribbing because I know that this happy happy facade is all sham. I am cribbing because I can understand what actually the problem is and what may happen if the situation continues like this. On one hand you do not have enough notes in denomination of 100 to cope up with the cash requirement of people . On the other hand the supply of notes of Rs 2000 is hampered by a technical glitch which will take some time to get over. Meanwhile most of the population are on the other side of digital divide. Maybe more will join me to usher in a cashless society after this fracas. But that will take time.
It would be only a matter of three months for this scheme with proper planning.and above all good intention. But instead, it has made the next three weeks a bleak challenge for the entire country. Therefore, the question arises - who is responsible for such a gaffe? The decision was made public by the head of the government in a sudden announcement and since then there has been justifications, arbitrary decisions,brazen defiance, emotional rhetoric and tepid platitudes by the government and its officials. They know very well that they are stuck and they are trying to get a way out.
In cricket parlance, this is like preparing a turning track for the opposition and then getting bowled out for a paltry total while facing unheralded spinners. Before the spin they rely on spins the situation out of control they need to do something about it.

Fifty days will be too long a time which people may want to give.


#RandomThoughts Today the 14th November is a Bank holiday . And in the literal sense it is a well deserved one for the bank employees in branches after the harrowing time they had during the last few days of madness triggered by shoddy implementation of a lofty idea. Their travails are not finished yet because from tomorrow they will again have to take up their positions and face the fire. They have already foregone their holidays on Saturday and Sunday preceding this holiday today and maybe this will be the template for the whole of this month.
Let us have full sympathy for them but also not get carried away in eulogizing them to the moon because they will get compensatory leaves, overtime, tiffin allowance and other such things to soften them and motivate for the extra effort they are putting in. But for that they must thank the unions and collective bargaining which was instrumental in formulating different laws to take care of workmen against firmaans by the powers to be.
The reason why Bank's and stock exchanges are closed today is ostensibly due to Guru Nanak Jayanti. Of all the religious figures, this man holds a special place in my heart because of the message of love, unity, piety and fellowship he preached. Perhaps he never wanted to establish a different religion which his 10th successor did. He was a simple person and preached against the dogmas of established religions. I see him more as a social reformer. The Sikh religion may have appropriated him but he remains a figure who can inspire all,even atheists.
Guru Nanak's birthday like many other saints, historical and mythical personalities of India is celebrated on the basis of the lunar calendar. In some places, this day with the full moon night is also celebrated as Ras Purnima. This festival is related to the Hindu mythology and commemorates the communion of Lord Krishna with his Gopinis. Shorn of physical motifs the festival is actually the celebration of love, in a myriad ways. It also establishes the importance of platonic relations between man and woman beyond the boundaries of social union or physical intimacy. That is how I look at it. Strictly a personal view by myself.
The night of Ras Purnima is magical and will breed love in the hearts of even the unromantic. The weather, the clear sky and the fullness of the moon all come together to play on the senses and induce the feelings of longing. The materialistic USA have typically robbed the soft, lilting and romantic aspect with their interpretation of the Super Moon as if it is a merchandise like the biggest Pizza or hamburger to gulp down. But I dedicate this night to all the romantic feelings and to all those who inspired them in me. Like Krishna, I would like to be with all the Gopinis and share the eternal love with them .
One important memory of Ras Purnima will always be my brief stay at Coochbehar in 1987 with a brand new scooter and a new wife with one year of married life. It was a mad, mad time of exploration all around and within, too. There is a big fair called Ras Mela which is an annual event in Coochbehar, starting on Ras Purnima. How we enjoyed the fair and how simple was our life then . I would like to visit Coochbehar at least once again in life on Ras Purnima.
The children are also having fun today. Children's day has always been special in our lives. The joy of being a child is the most which we can feel. Perhaps the reason for all the strife we experience all around us because we have all lost our child like qualities of innocence, questioning and playfulness as we grew up into adults. The best we can probably do is to reclaim the child in us, even for a day at least. Hope we can make the world a better place to live for the children.
And finally, the Uncle; the much celebrated Jawaharlal Nehru, whose birthday is marked on our calendars as the Children's day. Presently, he is a much maligned name by the pygmies who can never reach his stature as a wise statesman and a complete human being with follies and frailties. His elite background will always be pointed by the people who want to bring him down from the pedestal. Half truths, blatant lies, innuendos and obscene interest with his personal life has not been able to obliterate the fact that he was indeed a colossus. And the values of liberalism, secularism and socialism that has stood by us for seven decades would never have been possible without him. Homage to the architect of modern India.

#Onceuponatime.  Sometimes it all comes back to me in rushes of memory.  The winter days , the courtyard , the well , the charpoy . Sitting with the back towards the sun with the head covered with a gamchha. Reading a book or the old newspaper , listening to cricket commentary on the transistor radio  , eating sweet and sour pickles or just dozing off .
And the afternoons when after lunch , all of us would gather together to soak in the sun and have those small pieces of guava with salt. Sometimes we played Ludo or simple card games.   The womenfolk used to do a lot of knitting those days.  Balls of wool , knitting pins , half finished sweaters were a standard sight . And as the sun weakened , we would play those games with  strange names which children no longer play . King king , Ice spice, Saat gotti , chor police , Kiska patta , gilli danda , Antol goli and so many others , I don't even remember.
As the winter evenings fell, our lawns lit up for badminton which my uncles and their friends played . We would try to complete our homeworks swiftly to join them as spectators. And sometimes we even managed a chance to play . That was the height of achievement for us . But Wednesday evenings were for Binaca geetmala . Nothing else mattered.
Those days will perhaps  never come back . If I could ever sit on a time machine and get back there ; at the same place , the same people and the same age , I would never want to come back . Oh, how I wish I could stay there, forever.