Romeo was a great lover and a faithful one. The love between Romeo and Juliet was mutual. It is tragic yet, legendary. In the east too, we have such legends like Majnu and Laila, Sohni Mahiwal, Sirin and Farhad and many others.
Laila oh laila, aisi hun laila, har koi chahen mujhse milna akela – there goes a popular Bollywood number downgrading the legend associated with Laila to the lowest level possible. Of course, we have made the legend of Romeo to meet with the same fate.
Shakespear’s Romeo does not have the least bit resemblance to the roadside side badchalan laundas of India who are the inspiration behind our anti Romeo squads. Thank God, neither did Romeo live, nor did he leave any progeny behind to see this day. Had he been a little less tragic like the hero of De Caprio Titanic, his descendants would have commuted mass suicide after coming to know the down-gradation of his legend to such base levels.
These badchalan laundas stand at street corners passing lewd comments and teasing each member of the opposite sex, who dares to pass by. Sometimes things take uglier turn when they try to gain physical proximity and they create nightmare for girls who are not escorted by any male member. Wholeheartedly, do I support the action of the so called Anti Romeo squads who are out to make public places safer for women.
Then, there are these true followers of the glorious tradition of Romeo and Juliet. I mean the romantic part not the tragic part. I do not have any objection to two consenting adults coming together in response to certain emotional and biological stimuli provided, they are as faithful to each other like the legends whose footsteps they follow. Neither is it unlawful.
Of course, there is thi minor irritant what in technical jargon is called – PDA, which is Public Display of Affection in its expanded from. Quite often, such Romeos could be spotted with their Juliets in public places like Parks and Cinema Halls, busy in PDA activities as if being oblivious of the people around.
To counter these PDA activities, some self styled preservers of public moralities in India have come up with anti-Romeo vigilante groups, in line with the cow vigilant groups. While I condemn the activities of such vigilante groups who have no right to take up their own romantic failures on such romantic achievers, I appeal that even the official Anti Romeo quads should not take any action against them.
Rather, we should come up with innovative ideas to save and encourage such couples who are the preservers of the beautiful traditions set by the legendary Majnus and Lailas.
My suggestion is that we should enact a central law to make it mandatory for parents with children afflicted with Romeo Juliet Syndrome to give their children enough pocket money so that they can afford Private Display of Affection.
Alternately, we should have Romeo Lounges in every public place in India in line with the Smoker’s lounges at airports and elsewhere, so that the public is not the least bit affected by the cultural pollution spread by these Shakepearean Romeos and Juliets.
😀 😀 😀
(In response to Indispire Edition #166 at Indiblogger )
When I first came across the word Half Girlfriend during the launch of the eponymous book written by our great Indian novelist and twenty first century intellectual Sriman Chetan Bhagat ji, I wondered what might be the meaning of such a word.
In Indian hotels, we are used to the rate card of a full plate as well as a half plate. You have half versions of tea and coffee. In Indian tradition, after marriage the girl becomes ardhangini.
Of course, the concept of ardhangini is understandable. After marriage the wife and husband become one unit. So, each unit is half of this arrangement. But, our male dominated society never uses the word ardhanga which should be the synonym to mean the husband.
Is this girl gifted with only half of the limbs that a normal girl has? Then, her boyfriend must indeed be a great hero to be emulated by all Chetan Bhagat devotees? (by the way, bhagat is derived from the word bhakt– a devotee)
Or, the protagonist boy has two girlfriends concurrently, thus, each one deserving only to be a half girlfriend?
When I confided my confusion to a dear friend and Chetan Bhagat fan and who goes by the name Ketan, he suggested me to read the book to clear my confusion. I shuddered at the prospect. The last time I attempted to read one of his books, after two pages I had such mental indigestion that it took me two weeks to recover. Such heavy stuff.
Imagine. If I struggle for a day and break my head to make sense of only one word invented by this great innovative author, what will happen to my chetan man (conscious mind) if I go through the whole book.
So, I let the meaning of ‘half girlfriend’ remain a mystery. What is going to happen after all. Already I am living with half a million mysteries of the universe that may not get solved in a million years to come. That includes the greatest unsolved mystery of all times, “Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?
At the same time I am afflicted by another mystery. The name half girlfriend is an insult to the women folk. To be more politically correct he could have used the word half boyfriend. Is Chetan, a misogynist?
I expected some feminist organsiations to take up the gauntlet, come in an Arnab Goswami show to spread the fire of protest so wide that the nation wanted to know only one thing – How dare Chetan Bhagat be more incoherent than the host of the only fire powered show in India?
The nation wide controversy would have made Chetan rolling on the floor laughing all the way to the bank while the sales figure of his books reached the moon.
But all this did not happen. Chetan did laugh his way to the bank, though. But, what happened to the feminists? Did they think it too trivial an issue considering the history of this nation in treating its female species, or, all of them got converted to the cult of Chetan Bhagat?
Of course, there were some halfhearted protest responses. One wrote a book titled Half Boyfriend. Another wrote a blog post titled Half Girlfriend/ Half Boyfriend.
A few days back, Ketan phoned me. He said he was speaking to me from Thailand. He had taken a short break from his vacation activities just to speak to me.
“Hey buddy. You know what. The movie trailer is out.”
“What movie?”, I asked.
“The movie based on Chetan’s book, Half girlfriend.” He was so enthusiastic – like a cult member out to recruit.
“You wanted to know the meaning of half girlfriend. Well, see the trailer”.
He sent me the link. I opened the link and saw the trailer. My confusion got more compounded.
So what is a half girlfriend?
A character in the trailer, who seems to be the protagonist’s friend, tries to describe the boy girl relationship as – Dost se thodasa jyada, boyfriend se thoda sa kam. Somehow it makes some sense, vaguely though.
But man, how do you decide it fits the definition of a half girlfriend/boyfriend or, a half relationship. How do you assign a numerical value to an abstract concept.
Of course, there seems nothing special about the relationship that the author tries to hype up by assigning it a value of half. In any boy meets girl story, there comes a point from where the relationship could go either way. It is just a short lived phase of a relationship.
But the relationship must have a number. Otherwise, it will not bring good luck to the book. Thus spake Chetan’s astrologer.
Yes, it is the same astrologer that Ekta Kapoor is affiliated to. Let me reproduce the enlightened conversations between the astrologer and Chetan here:
Astrologer: Look Chetan. I have already given alphabet K to Ekta. Knowing your type, for you no alphabet. Only numbers will do. Use any number between five and half in your title.
Chetan: Surely I will do. By the way, anybody who knows five words (three English and two Hindi) can not only understand my book, but also aspire to be a best selling author like me. But sir, after spending four rigorous years in IIT, and later on at IIM, this much I know that half is not a natural number.
Astrologer: It is a combination of two numbers one and two. So don't worry.
After a few years Chetan wrote a book and wanted to titled it - Point Five Someone, to sound like the earlier one and to ride on its popularity all the way to his bank account. But before sending it to the publisher he wanted to have the final word of advice from his astrologer.
Chetan: Sir, I have written another book about a guy who is not even worth five points. Shall I call the book Point Five Someone?
Astrologer: No no. Make it more spicy. Give him a girl friend and call the book Half Girlfriend. It will achieve two things - confusion and curiosity. They go hand in hand. Good for marketing, you know.
Chetan: By the way Sir, I thought you are an expert in astrology only. But, I see you are good in marketing too.
Astrologer: Ha ha. Why not? let me tell you. There isn't much difference between you and me. Both us make millions by selling truckloads of bullshit.
Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him. His books adorn the bookshelves of half of my friends, occupy at least half a self in any library you visit, cover half of all the total space available in leading book stores- offline or online. He is on TV- on talk shows and f**k shows. (I was thinking of a match making show where he acts like a f**ked up host).
He writes half banal and half unintelligible centre page articles on national newspapers. Like his books, movies based on his books make millions. Ketan, says that the movies are not exact adaptations of his books, but are loosely based.
Oh God, that is the saving grace. Being loosely based, the movies can take any kind of spin off.
It is said that the Americans are so adept in sales and marketing that they can sell real estate located on the moon to the Chinese. Well, Yankey dudes, here in India we have got the baap of all salesmen.
The unique thing about living in India is that one learns to live under a plethora of diversities and yet, love it. Nowhere does one get the real taste of this unique feature than in Armed Forces.
Yes, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of an Armed Forces fraternity; Indian Air Force to be precise, for two decades. Close interaction with people from different parts of India is a daily affair as part of your work. Moreover, your frequent transfers throughout the length and breath of India gives you an in depth experience of the locality, that a casual visitor to that place may not get.
Hard work and celebration is a part and parcel of military life. In addition to official celebrations, we used to have a lot of informal celebrations organised by the members of different religious and cultural communities. Without any inhibitions every one participated in those informal celebrations. I have lost count of how many times I have been part of X’mas and Id celebrations. We respected each other’s religions and cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Yet, neither did we lose the pride in our own unique culture or religion, nor did it make us a chauvinist or a fanatic.
In a formal way or in an informal way, there was was zero discrimination based on caste or religion or ethnicity. It was secularism at its zenith. Whenever we met with someone, we just felt we are meeting with a fellow Indian. No judgement, prima facie or otherwise, was formed about an Individual because he belonged to a different religion, caste, ethnic group, or spoke a different mother tongue.
Of course, by and large, people in India live peacefully in spite of having so many groups with conflicting ideologies. At the same time, it cannot be ignored that vested interests incite fanatic and chauvinistic feelings in the common man who falls prey to such mass manipulation tactics. Quite often the leader who incites chauvinistic feelings based on native language or ‘the perceived legitimate rights of the son of the soil’ may have his own children studying in posh schools where learning of the local language and love for one’s native customs and culture are considered stuff for lesser mortals.
Yet the common man forgets this and is ready to take the gauntlet against those imaginary enemies who are out to pollute his culture. He himself maybe as much ignorant about his own culture as someone who stays in his state temporarily. His own children may be reluctant to talk in local language. He himself is not the least bit interested to learn anything about another culture. But, he expects that (and considers it an insult if they don’t) people who come to his state, whether voluntarily or as mandated by their job, must speak the local language, know every thing pertaining to the state and adapt themselves to the local customs.
A person who falls prey to such manipulative forces loses his perspective in distinguishing love for his own religion from fanaticism and love for his own ethnicity or language from chauvinism .
After leaving the Defense Services, due to professional requirements, I stayed in a city that prides itself of being a cosmopolitan city. I took an apartment. It was good to see that the apartment complex had residents from different states of India. There were a number of serving as well as retired Defense personnel and some hailed from my home state Odisha. It was also good to see that the residents celebrated many occasions like the New Year, Ganesh Puja, Diwali, Holi etc. together.
Another unique feature of India is its large number of religious and ethnic festivals spread throughout the year. A particular day or occasion may have many regional and local versions.
Fourteenth of April- the solar new year, is celebrated in different parts of India in different manners. It is known as Mahabishuba Sankranti and it goes by different names in different states. Like, somewhere it is Vishu, somewhere it is Poila Boishakha and so on. In my home state Odisha itself it has a number of local versions of celebration. In many parts of Odisha it is celebrated as Pana Sankranti because a special type of Pana (non-alcoholic sweet drink) is prepared on this occasion.
So, a few of us got together and decided to celebrate the Sankranti. We also decided that we would prepare and sponsor the special sweet drink so that people from other states get to have a taste of the same. We were enthusiastic about the celebrations. Many volunteers came forward offering help in organizing the events. I was asked to put out a message in our whatsapp group informing about the celebrations and inviting all to come and participate. I am reproducing my message word for word (sans place references):
"Hearty Greetings to all on the occasions of Mahabishuba Sankranti / Pana Sankranti /Odiya New Year / Ambedkar Jayanti/ Good Friday /Vishu / Baishakhi / Bihu / Lord Hanuman ji's Birthday (& any other festival if it is left out)At (apartment name) let us celebrate this occasion with songs and drinks. On this grand occasion, all are invited to an evening of devotional songs and music. Place: .......... . Time: 6:30 pm .Traditional Pana (non-alcoholic sweet drink) will be distributed as prasadam 8 p.m on wards on behalf of Utkal Samaj. All are coordially invited to participate with family and friends.
I was enthusiastic that people would be happy to read my message. I also expected that some would appreciate my sense of humour. Of course there was enthusiastic reception from the residents.
But the message did not go down well with a particular gentleman who demanded to know why I had forgotten to mention the name of his state which too celebrated the new year on this day.
I had given my greeting message after some research on the net. I double checked and found that neither Google nor Wikipedia knew that this state as a whole celebrated any kind of new year on this day. Nor, was there any mention of any unique specific name by which this festival was known through out the state. Of course, in some parts of the state, especially in temples it was celebrated as a general religious festival befitting the occasion of Mahabishubha Sankranti.
Secondly, supposing that there indeed was any kind of state specific festival associated with the date, the gentleman’s demand was akin to the demand of a child who goes on asking every stranger it meets, “uncle, why did not you wish me on my birthday?”. It was a childish demand based on his own ignorance mixed with chauvinism .
Thirdly, to make my message all inclusive and implying that due to my ignorance I might have, inadvertently, left out mentioning any peculiar name associated with the festival I had included the phrase “& any other festival if it is left out” in my greeting message.
Still then, to assuage his feeling of being slighted, to prevent the festive spirit from being spoiled and to avoid the issue being dragged further, I sent a message expressing my apology for my omission.
But, the gentleman was in no mood to reconcile. He continued with his rants, “Even though, you people stay in this state for so many years you do not learn about this state, blah blah blah……. “
One of my well wishers asked the gentleman to stop reading negative connotation from the message and appreciate the fact that someone is inviting every one to be part of a celebration. Of course, this only enraged the gentleman more and he continued with his offensive messages. So I sent a message again requesting every one not take anything seriously as my message was just an invitation for a celebration.
Thereafter, in spite of being prodded by my friends to give a fitting reply to his humiliating messages, I chose to remain silent and asked others just to ignore his rants.
My Defense upbringing had taught me to protect my fellow Indians even at the cost of my own life. At the same time, the Indian in me did not want to fight with a fellow Indian over a trivial issue even after being humiliated badly.
I hoped that our silence would ultimately make the gentleman silent, unless he was so ungracious as to find something wrong with our silence as well. But the gentleman was gracious enough to stop his rants finding no takers for his further provocations.
Lufthansa’s attempt to incorporate Indian culture, cuisine and hospitality into their airline’s services takes this ‘India First’ approach a step further. However, there is a catch.
So, watch the above video to know of their conspiracy theory. There are plenty of hints in the video. Then supplement it with detailed knowledge about their conspiracy to Indianise themselves at the following link:
(This time, in stead of I writing a blog post in response to the topic of Indisipre Edition #165, I asked my son Dipayan to write one. Being the beginning of the academic year, I saw him having too much fun and I wanted to curtail it. But I was proved wrong as he announced that writing the article was no less fun.)
I love my sister. Though there’s 10 years of difference between us (ten years three days to be precise), there’s no gap of affection. She is now in Switzerland, but still we talk often. I do miss her, but I still get to talk to her, and that’s a good thing. Quarrels are rare, because the last time we quarreled must be around 8 years ago, when I was 6 and she 16 and we used to stay together (aah, those days…). But those quarrels used to end in a jiffy. None of them were too serious. I stayed with her till her twelfth class. After that she went for higher studies to NIT, Trichy where she stayed in a hostel. So, we met only during vacations.
Two years back, she went to Zurich to do M.S. Since then, we have been able to meet only online.
We used to play many small games together, and we had a lot of fun. I didn’t feel bored at all when I was with my sister.
Having a sister has many advantages. A sister is more caring and patient than a brother. My sister taught me many things. She taught me many good values, and of course, helped me a lot in my studies. Not only in studies, she helped me a lot in everything, and in return, I helped her. According to me, helping and caring is what makes a sibling relationship special.
She used to hug me tightly and kiss me everywhere on my face and call me many affectionate names like ‘cutie pie’, and I believe she would do the same when I meet her now. She says even if I grow, I would still remain a small child to her.
My sister motivates me not only by her words but also by her deeds and achievements. She was one of the CBSE All India toppers both in Class X and XII. She carried on her academic feat to NIT, Trichy, where she was also much sought after for co-curricular activities like organizing and compering special events, creative writing and editing.
She tells me what to do and what not to. She is my inspiration and I am proud of her. When I miss her and cannot immediately contact her online, I watch the following video on youtube, which is a recording of her fun presentation on drones at Science Slam Zurich.
I am no expert in any kind of music. I don’t need to be . A connoisseur of food need know the details of the recipe.
Classical music and folk music are both ancient in origin and have been carried forward by a tradition of pass over to the next generation, sometimes through family ties and sometime through Guru-Shishya Parampara. I feel the main difference between classical and folk tradition is that while classical music is highly refined, folk music is music in its raw, virgin form.
Classical music has been adopted by maestros of music and patronized by people of high society. Whereas, folk music is a cry from the heart of people who lived very close to nature. There is a simplicity and spontaneity in folk music that can be highly seductive.
Every mainstream language has many dialects. While classical ragas could take lyrics from main stream languages as well as dialects, folk songs are usually in dialects.
Even though I do not understand the dialects, my heart finds instant connection with the Rajasthani Folk music. Rajasthan is a treasure house of folk music. It is amazing to see people living in harsh conditions producing such sweet melodies. The other day, when I came across this BBC documentary titled – The Lost Music of Rajasthan -on youtube, I could not but watch it without any break.
The above BBC documentary highlights the efforts taken by a few individuals to preserve folk music, not a museum piece but in its living natural surroundings. While the protagonists of the above documentary are apprehensive about the survival of the folk music, some lament that the purity of the folk tradition is getting compromised by the use of modern instruments and the influence of film and television.
With changes in the social structure, economic conditions and influence of other cultures certain level of changes are bound to happen. I only hope, the changes are for the better, without uprooting the traditions altogether.
Be it in any langauge, folk music can touch a chord in the heart instantly. India, being home to thousands of tribes and dialects, every state has a number of folk music traditions.
About four decades back, the song Rangabati – a folk song in the western Odisha dialect Sambalpuri became popular not only in Odisha but also all over India. Imagine a song going viral all over India, long before the advent of internet ! Rangabati continues to fascinate. The song continues to be a favourite. Some have tried to give it a modern make over in MTV Coke Studio, to disastrous consequences.
(Poor video quality, but the song is original)
The above one is sung by Sona Mahapatra, in her trained methodical style and voice and in accompaniment to modern instruments. When you listen to both the songs, you can feel how folk songs get murdered when you try to refine it, or maybe, try to sing without feeling it. No doubt, the attempt by Sona Mahapatra created a lot of controversy. Sona Mahapatra has song many Bollywood chart busters. I like many of her songs. But sorry, Sona. I find your Rangabati attempt repelling.
Despite the light around us in cities, we cannot see the most beautiful wonders of all- A glittered night sky. What are your views on light pollution, and memories of those wonderful starry nights? #DarknessForStars ]
In response to Indispire Edition #163 of Indiblogger
Which is the first book I read all by myself?
Well, frankly speaking I do not remember. But, I can guess with a fair degree of accuracy about some of the books and magazines which were part of my reading in my early childhood.
The Magazine Chandamama being one of those. Strictly speaking, it may not fall under the category of books. But the magazine was so much part of my regular childhood reading, I would love to assign it the status of my first love with reading material outside the school curriculum.
The magazine was published in a number of Indian languages and English. I used to read the Oriya version which was titled ‘Janhamamu’.
Each issue contained a mixture of stand alone stories, serialized stories bases on mythology, classic literature, new stories, contests and knowledge tidbits suitable for schoolchildren. Every article had accompanying colourful illustrations to create visual interest. The stories also had a moral or a practical lesson to teach.
The magazine not only delivered the stories and messages of mythologies and classical literature in an interesting and suitable way to the children, but also kindled interest for further reading. One of the serialised popular features of the magazine was the stories of Vikram and Vetal. Subsequently, when I came across the original book, I could not resist myself reading it. Of course the magazine authors took the liberty to create their own stories in line with the originals.
At present the magazine is not in circulation, either in print of e-format. However, it survived long enough so that I could buy the magazines for my own children. Only difference being while my children had many options with regard to children’s periodicals, I had very few. Of course many local children’s magazines were available. But, nothing to beat Chandamama.
Another regular feature of the magazine was the caption contest. There were two unrelated photos, and one had to find a suitable caption linking both the photos. I tried my luck on a number of issues, even though I could never make it to the winning stage.
It is sad to know that the magazine started by B Naggi Reddy (also a famous film producer) and Chakrapani in 1947 is no more in publication. It reached its peak in the 1970s and the 1980s, being published in thirteen languages with a circulation of 2 lakhs.
The best thing about Chandamama was that most of the stories were desi, unlike today’s periodicals for children. Of course some times it contained abridged and illustrated versions of many western classics. Maybe, that is how I got interested in English classic literature too.
For those who would like to relive the days of Chandmama or have a taste of the magazine, here is link for the archives:
Jawaharlal Nehru University – a premier educational institute of India, has been in regular news over the last couple of years.
Unfortunately, for reasons not academic.
Not because its students or professors achieved anything remarkable connected with higher studies, research or anything related to learning for that matter. But, because of the battle of supremacy of one idea over the other accompanied by violent protests and clashes bordering in anti national activities.
Jawaharlal Nehru, after whom the university is named, was a free thinker and welcomed criticism of his own ideas. While he advocated secularism, he has also written books about the lofty heritage of this country. By no means he would have been delighted by the attempt to propagate anti-national ideas on Indian soil.
Healthy debates and discussions and free expression of opinions are the bread and butter of a citadel of higher learning. Even though the university was dedicated to the memory of Jawaharlal Nehru, it was the leftist leader Prakash Karat who formulated the major policies related to the University. Moreover, the student politics of the campus has been mostly left dominated. Hence, it can only be expected that the university propagates and zealously guards a particular point of view.
An ideology is just a notion. As a prodigious student, in stead of probing the origin or relevance age old ideologies, it is unfortunate that a citadel of learning has been a stage to propagate particular ideologies.
A student should be a skeptic, questioning everything. The faculty should engage in producing and encouraging that spirit of inquiry and should not in any way bring their own ideologies to influence their commitment for the intellectual growth of the students.
According to the Wikipedia page on JNU, while it is ranked third best university by India’s Ministry of HRD, it ranks 1177th in the world by an international study. Academically speaking, the university has still a long way to go in spite of attracting some of the best minds of India.
The events at JNU also raises serious questions as to whether student politics should be allowed across educational institutes in India. By the way, elections were banned in JNU from 2008 to 2011. At the age when students in India enter campus politics, are they mature enough not to be used as pawns? Moreover, by indulging in active politics, do not they lose precious student time that they would have devoted to learning? After all ,educational institutes are not meant to give hands on training about the nitty- gritties of winning elections. During my college days I witnessed classes being postponed frequently due to student activism over trivial issues.
As the JNU events show, students are used as pawns to push forth particular ideologies or carry on certain types of propaganda not at all related to the curriculum of study. The situation becomes dangerous when anti national propaganda are carried out in the name of free speech. Somewhere a line should be drawn between free speech that genuinely encourages spirit of inquiry and self reflection on one hand and propaganda by vested interests that questions the very fabric of a nation that after all gave them an opportunity to study in that university with a generous subsidy out of her citizens’ earnings.