A Tale of Two Gossips

I am thoroughly disappointed to know that google cannot throw out a name with xxxxxxphobia for this fear that I had while growing up to my early teens. It was the fear of marketing. Let it not be confused with the market place where I enjoyed roaming anonymously. It was rather the dread to purchase something. The fear was at its worst when it came to vegetables.

When I want to be precise and google, ‘fear of purchasing vegetables’, I am suggested with a poor substitute – lachanophobia which is actually the fear of vegetables. I am disappointed again because I love vegetables. I have always done so.  My mother was such a good cook of vegetarian dishes. My wife is not that bad. (Hope she is not reading this).

Before I describe the detailed prescription that I followed to get rid of this, let me share my assumption about the the genesis of this fear.

Being the youngest among all siblings I was pampered a lot during my early childhood. Nobody ever allotted me any household chore. If I went to a shop, it was to fulfill my own fancies of chocolates or some other thing. It was never to get a packet of salt that my father had forgotten to add to the monthly grocery list.

Once, while we were staying at a relative’s house, the lady of the house politely requested me to go to the vegetable market and get some fresh vegetable. I was the last option available to her, she said. She did not tell me exactly what vegetable to get. Of course, had she given me a list of vegetables to get, it would not have bettered the after effects.  If I remember, I got the costliest vegetables in the market by paying the highest imaginable price as if to claim my place among the highest bidders of a market where no body was bidding for anything. What was worse was that the vegetables I bought were not as fresh as was expected. Of course she was not angry. But my adventure in the vegetable market became the latest gossip in the neighborhood. Her husband, who fancied himself to be the funniest man of his era, started teasing me from next day. “Here is our great marketing man. Now on, whoever needs vegetable, make sure you do not forget Baba. (my pet name). He knows the freshest vegetables and  how to get those at the most reasonable price”.

From then on, whenever by mistake I happened to be at the vegetable market I  felt that all the vendors were evil-incarnates and were born in the world for the sole motive to cheat innocent boys like me. Slowly the fear went viral from vegetables to other items. This fear was akin to the stage fear faced by those who have stage fear. I developed many innovative excuses to escape from being sent to purchase anything.

There came a time when I was boarded out from home to be a boarder in a High School. There, we had a very tough hostel superintend who saw to it that we had many Gandhian habits inculcated in us. It was compulsory for two inmates to go to the market by turns to purchase vegetable for our mess. When I learnt of this, it was already too late to persuade my father to shun the idea of admitting me into that school. The consolation was that I would not be going to the  market alone.

For my first marketing adventure, a boy from the senior class was my teammate. That further emboldened me. Still, before entering the market I told him about my being a total novice to the world of marketing and my dread of the vendors. He laughed off. Never even  in his wildest of dreams could he conceive of such a fear. He commented, “So padhai mein hero, baaki sab mein mein zero”. Actually I had stood first in the district Board exam of class VII. By the time I joined the school, I had already become notorious in the district for being a kind of a ‘studious’ star.

When we were purchasing vegetable I noticed that the vendor had tampered with the weighing machine in such a way that the wight will be invariably be less than what we had bargained for. I pointed this to my senior and also explained the scientific principle behind it. He was surprised. Even though he knew the scientific principle he had never noticed this.

The next day, I was the subject of gossip all over the school. But this time the gossip was about a star who had saved the hostel from the sharks of the vegetable market.

“Let him go to the market every other day”, said the superintendent when he learned of this.

I also looked forward, with a tinge of revenge and missionary zeal, to save my hostel from the vegetable cheats.

P.S: The above incidents actually took place. The only characters fictionalized are the person who used to tease me and the lady. The person who used to tease me about my marketing skill later on became my father-in-law.

Did I take a sweet revenge on him? (For the second time, I hope, my wife is not reading this).

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(This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.)

Sunday Musings and Random Notes #4

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Those unknown heroes did not even wait to hear our applause

One day, while I was driving to Bengaluru Airport, I spotted two small IAF planes moving in synchronicity. Instantly I was reminded of an aerobatic display by the Suryakiran team two decades back.

It happened at a  forward base. The local Chief Minister was the chief guest. All were waiting for the first glimpse. The perfect formation of the nine aircraft became visible over the horizon and in an instant they zoomed past the spectators who looked on with awe. There after followed various hair raising stunts and manoeuvres, all in perfect coordination and formation. Every one knew that a split second error could result in a major disaster. Only those at the cockpit knew how much practice, patience, alertness and gut feelings went into producing such an impeccable display.

Of course in some of the later displays that I witnessed at other locations including the displays for the public, there were arrangement for running commentaries where the name of the team leaders were mentioned. But then with all those din and excitement in the surroundings,  the running commentary hardly held your attention. In this particular show there was no such running commentary or public announcement. After the display there was arrangement for refreshments. During that time the Chief Guest was supposed to meet and compliment the pilots. A large part of the spectators was eagerly waiting to see those men behind the machines who gave those miraculous stunts. However, after some time we came to know that the team had to leave urgently. Neither did we know their name then nor did we have any opportunity to let them hear our applause.

This incident is a representative of the larger events involving our soldiers. Forget about the applause, in the theater that the soldier operates there are no spectators to applaud. Sometimes the hero even does not live to narrate or hear his glory. There are case where a soldier is awarded and may occupy a fifth  page mention. But the majority of those heroes go unsung. May be that is why we have so many memorials to the ‘unknown soldiers’.

suryakiran
Enter a caption

 By Sivakumar ThyagarajanSurya kirans !, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

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 Why should the Hero take all the credit

Here of course I am talking about the reel life heroes. There is no need to mention that. Our social conditioning is such that when we talk of heroes, the first ones to come to mind are the filmy ones, even though majority of them could be damn cowards and hypocrites in real life and may be suffering from all kind of fears including fear of not being the best noticed one in a public gathering and not to speak of the fear  of cockroaches. To distinguish a real life hero from the filmi hero, we have to say – so and so was a real life hero; where as,  it should be the other way round.

Now coming to the real (or, reel) issue, the filmi hero is like the body of a car. It is the most visible and highlighted part of the movie. The other fellows (including the heroine) who work equally hard and are equally talented, do not get as much credit as the hero. In the filmi world too there are unsung heroes. The body double who does the real ‘heroic acts’ remains  unsung.

body-double

Of Good and Evil

Nothing is good or bad. But thinking makes it so- said Shakespeare.

Long before Shakespeare, a Chines sage had said somethings very profound. (Hope my patriotic countrymen – particularly the whatsapp warriors,  will forgive me for  using things Chines in my blog post). I extract here a few lines of Lao Tzu’s Tao- Te- Ching :

"As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, ugliness is born. 
As soon as virtue is being known as something good, evil is born. 
Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other. 
Difficult and easy accomplish each other.
..............................................  "

So the concept of ugliness was born when man recognized and discriminated something as beautiful. Prior to that things existed as they were without being judged. So was the case with good and evil.

Even the ancient seers who compiled the mythologies  knew this. Hence, Ravana is actually not an enemy of Vishnu. He is just doing a role play as ordained by the divine order of things. He is one of Vishnu’s trusted lieutenants, being the doorkeeper of Baikuntha- the abode of Lord Vishnu, who becomes Rama in his seventh avatar.

According to the Bhagavata Purana, once the four sons of Lord Brahma also known as Sanat Kumaras, went to meet Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha Dham. The four sanat kumaras are Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumar. It is said that due to regular spiritual practices they looked like children. So the gatekeepers did not take them seriously. However, when they insisted that they be allowed to go inside without delay, Jaya and Vijaya told them that Lord Vishnu was taking rest and they have to wait till He wakes up. However, the kumaras were enraged and told that Lord Vishnu is available all the time for their devotees. Further, the kumaras cursed the gatekeepers for their insolence so as to be born in the mortal world leaving their heavenly abode.

Subsequently, the gatekeepers asked forgiveness of the kumaras and requested Lord Vishnu to waive off the curse. Lord Vishnu told that the curse of divine beings like the kumaras cannot be reverted. However, he wanted to commute the punishment. So He gave the gatekeepers two options – either to be born as His devotees for six births or as His enemies for three births. Jaya and Vijaya chose the latter as they thought the sooner they are re-untied with their master the better,  even though they have to play the role of villains. In their first descent from heaven as mortal beings they were born as Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa. In their second life, they were to be born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna; while in their third life they became Shishupala and Dantavakra.

According to the mythologies the gods and the demons are descendants from the same father. Of course from different mothers. Rishi Kashyapa had two wives – Aditi and Diti. All the devas and other auspicious beings were born to Aditi while the demons in general, and Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa in particular, were born to Diti.(Here again, feminists please forgive the misogynistic bias of the seers who were mostly male.)

There have been interpretations of Ramayana, where Rama’s actions have been portrayed more devilishly than Ravana’s. So the dispute as to who is the hero and who the villain of the same story goes on.

As we see there is a very thin line that divides good from evil or deva (god) from the devil. If I put it in Hindi – hero aur villin mein sirf unneesh beesh ka farak. This theme has been used in many English movies. Remember Spider man III? Spiderman’s scientist friend is his arch enemy this moment, his savior the next.

As there are no absolute heroes or villains, some sages suggested let us kill the demons within.

Now, which are these demons? Anger, Ego, Lust……

Ok.Wait.. wait.

As we know, without ego, many of the great things in world would not have been done.

And without lust, where would we be? Would I be here writing this post. Or, you reading it?

(I know it sounds a little incorrect, politically speaking)

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Sunday Musings and Random Notes #2


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The Multi-purpose Indian Road

An Indian road, in addition to its main role, may mean many things to many people. It can be a toilet, it can be a barn, or it can be a place to build a place of worship – temporary as well as permanent (be it of any religion). The kind of surprises it may throw up are nothing new to the regular driver (hence, no more surprising). A good looking road may have a nasty pothole at the middle, a wide road may suddenly become narrow, and sometimes a road may  vanish just like that. Added to that, our law abiding fellow drivers make it such a  challenging experience. You have to have the awareness of a Buddha to be a master of the Indian Road. I feel the mindfulness meditation of Buddha is more relevant today than it was two thousand years ago.

Two days back, I discovered that the short cut I used to take back home from office (to save ten minutes) at a point, is suddenly closed down, adding 30 minutes more to my usual commuting time, as I had to take a very complicated detour.

In India, quite often, even the google navigation gets so confused that if you do not make a reality check with a localite every now and then, you are in for a harrowing time. The exit from the highway that the google lady directs you to take may not be there. Or, the google lady may take you to the back of the temple premises instead of the entrance and you may find yourself in a place where neither can you go ahead nor come back. (It actually happened when I visited the museum at Tanjavur a couple of years back.)

cows-2

For the office bound city commuter, the road may be two hours of hell, but not for these ‘holy’ animals. They can enjoy their moments of ‘bliss’ anywhere, including at the middle of a busy city road.

You may also read: Sunday Musings and Random Notes #1

Driven by the Divine

Around this time of the year, we do the Ayudh Puja, which is a must, particularly the vahana puja. One needs a lot of divine intervention to survive on an Indian Road. Sometimes, the decoration may cover the entire body blocking the front and the rear view. It  does not matter. Once things are left to divine care, there is nothing to worry about. Just relax.

ayudhapooja1

Sunday Musings and Random Notes

Our movies are like our food

While switching channels ( Sometimes I enjoy this bad habit), got stuck with Star Action. The movie was – The Other Man. It was supposed to be an action movie. There was so much silence. The dialogues were few. Some of the dialogues were not complete sentences. Yet the movie made such an impact.

Of course such a movie, if made in any Indian Language, may not make any impact. We like our movies like our food, a lot of varieties, a lot of spices, lots of loud and bright colours and of course, lots of sounds.(Have you heard the sounds of a self unconscious hungry person taking a south Indian meal, starting with papad and ending with rasam?)

Even the most macabre of the movies must have a song and a dance thrown in every half an hour in addition to the usual punchlines and lengthy harangues. For us, silence in the theater is unbearable.

For every minute of silence in the theater, the audience may legitimately wonder:

Itna sannata kyun hai bhai

Day of the Bandh

A Bandh rarely solves the problem it is associated with. Of course it causes a lot of inconvenience to a lot of people. Especially people who come on a short visit from outside and are caught unaware. But it has some positive side effects.

For a day, the pollution level of the city falls down drastically. The fuel saved in turn, saves foreign exchange and cushions government subsidy on fuel. It is such a pleasure to drive in the city in the afternoon when the enthusiasm of the protesters have died down. Or, for some busy city souls it may get the much needed surprises rest.

May be it is  good to have a bandh once a while for the sake of a healthy city and its citizens.

 Leisurely Sunday

Sometimes a simple unpremeditated shot taken with a cell phone (not the iphone 6 type) may take on artistic quality. Loved this photo taken by my son Dipayan. Look at the composition of the objects and the use of natural light.

liesurly sunday