The story is now published as an ebook on Amazon. Story withdrawn to comply with copyright issues.
The story is now published as an ebook on Amazon. Story withdrawn to comply with copyright issues.
The story is now published as an ebook on Amazon. It is withdrawn to comply with copyright issues.
The story is now published as an ebook on Amazon. It is withdrawn to comply with copyright issues.
My two wheeler is giving me some switching trouble. Before I gave it for servicing it had a few problems, but not this one. The switch start was working perfectly. Now, those problems, that I mentioned to the customer care guy at the servicing station, have been taken care of. But, new problems have cropped up.
Of course, I am yet to ascertain whether the same thing happens with my car. But, car servicing being few and far between, it may take some time to ascertain it.
These are like the health problems I used to face during my childhood days. If I took medicine for loose motion, I got fever in lieu. If I took medicine for running nose, the disease ran away but not before switching baton with dry cough. Things became slightly better when I practised yoga and used ayurveda along with allopathic treatments.
But it is surprising that in line with my body’s reaction to allopathic medicines my vehicle too should develop side effects. What is more surprising is that this phenomenon is immune to the type of servicing centre you go to: authorised, unauthorised, local, known, unknown, reputed, or notorious.
I noticed this phenomenon after shifting to Bangalore. While in Coimbatore, I had a friendly owner of an authorised service centre. I don’t remember ever paying beyond three figures any time for the periodic service. But every time the vehicle came back from the servicing centre, it felt like a new one.
One of the perils of living in a city like Bengaluru is that (if you are not a techie) there are guys who earn US salaries to be spent in India. In comparison to them you are doubly disadvantaged. Thus, when a Bengaluean of the good old days, his own finances now on shaky grounds, is bitter about the IT guys, his grumbling definitely is on solid grounds.
This is what happened when I first gave my old motorcycle for servicing for the first time after coming to Bengaluru. It was an authorised service centre. Many vehicle were already in a long queue. Back in Coimbatore I don’t remember ever waiting in a queue for such a thing.
To test my patience further when my turn came after forty five minutes the customer care girl took a break. Of course to my relief she came back after five minutes. She looked at my face quickly noted down ten serious problems of the vehicle.
Then she was gracious enough to ask me, “Tell me, Sir, what are the problems?”
I said, “Look. My problem is that I don’t understand what an intelligent girl like you is doing here. You should open a face reading and astrology consultancy centre for celebrities.”
Luckily she did not understand. Or, pretended not have heard anything and repeated the question more politely, “Tell me, Sir, what are the problems?”
I asked her, “Can I see the list of problems you have noted down?”
“These are just routine things, Sir.” She was a little reluctant to show me the list.
I snatched the worksheet from her. After going through it, I said, “Change of rim and spokes.. anti rust coating… change of the .. you call these routine things? Anyway, you strike out these and write what I say.”
Reluctantly and after showing her disgust at my audacity in not taking here advice, she noted down my requirements.
I was to get back my vehicle at six in the evening. I reached there on time. Again I had to stand in a long queue at the billing counter.
I noticed that the guy at the billing counter, in stead of a proper bill, was handing out hand written chits. Nobody was complaining. People were just handing over whatever amount was asked for and going away without pausing even to check. May be IT Guys who did not think in terms of Rs. 3500/- , but mere 50 dollars.
In the morning I had been given an estimate of Rs. 3500/- . So I was shocked to see a bill of Rs. 6500/-. When I asked for a break up, from his jumbled answers, the only thing I could could make out was that the last item for the bill was for VAT and the penultimate item was labour charges. I had only one question. “How come you charge VAT on labour charges?”
As he fumbled for reply more customers came forward questioning the handwritten bill and demanding a detailed break up.
Things were turning out to be chaotic. The manager of the servicing centre stepped in and explained that there was a problem in the computer network and we were free to collect our vehicle the next day along with a proper bill. While some, with a little bit of grumbling, preferred to pay and take their vehicle immediately, I preferred to come the next day.
When I came next day morning to collect the vehicle I was pleasantly surprised to see that the printed out bill for me read Rs. 3790/-.
It was only later, after using my serviced vehicle for two to three days, that I realised I had got more side effects than I had bargained for. I went to the servicing centre ( to use Chetan Bhagat language) with six and a half problems and came back with eleven and a quarter.
(Sixteen Parenting Sutras will be available for free download till 12th March.)
Late nineteen eighties. Just when we thought we were out of our teenage hangovers and stupidities, and the advent of TV and DVD players would sound the death knell for Bollywood, a spate of romantic films ruled the box office. These movies also launched the career of a lot of stars: the innocent looking Juhi Chawla, the dhak dhak girl Madhuri, the chocolate boy Amir Khan, and romantic singer Udit Narayan to name a few. We enjoyed listening to those great romantic songs without bothering much about their meanings or origins.
Now we don’t have to even wreck our brains to understand the lyrics of some of the popular songs. We have to just google it. I found out this from a site:
Aye mere humsafar
Ek zara intezaar
Sunn sadayein de rahi hai
Manzil pyaar ki
O my companion
wait just a while
Listen to the calling
of love’s destination
Even after a little help from the Google, the song may not be fully understandable. I too write poems that friends say they don’t understand. But what I do understand from the above song is that it treats love as some kind of a goal to be achieved. And I have an objection there. Because I think love does not have any destination. Love is the way.
When your goal is to become a doctor, it means you are not a doctor now. Same way if love is your destination you are not in love now.
In those days, not having the advantage of Google to check out the exact lyrics and not being native Hindi speakers, the lines we sang sometimes went like this:
App jaise koi
Mere jindegi mein aai
To baap ban jaye
…… to baap ban jaye
Duniya kaminooo.. ka mela
Mele mein yeh dil akela
Those days we never tried to understand the meaning of Hindi film songs. These days, even after trying my best I fail to understand the mystic connotations of the majority of Hindi film and pop songs.
In Bhakti Sutras (which some translate loosely as the Aphorism of Love), Narada says that love is the goal as well as the way. Of course he was talking of divine love. Similarly many of the songs written by Rumi and other Sufi saints are about divine love. For the spiritually inclined love is the way to self realisation.
But, for the Bollywoood lyricists love is the way to make lots of money. Some highly paid lyricists have brought down many Sufi bhajans from their high pedestals to the level of teenage infatuations. They don’t even acknowledge that they have plagiarized the songs from Sufi and Bhakti writers. Don’t think it is only the script writers who plagiarize.
Of course our popular bhajan singers do not do a better job when they sing bhakti songs following the tune of Bollywood songs that reminds you of semi clad heroines and item girls gyrating to the tunes in all their vulgar glory.
In my book Idle Hours, I have dealt at length about my ruminations on love at length in an article. I have also discussed about the origin of the Valentine’s Day.
According to one theory, this day is associated with the St. Valentine who performed secret marriages in the 3rdcentury Rome against the diktat of the emperor to debar young men from marrying so that they became better soldiers. However, St Valentine would hang his head in shame if he now learns that marketeers are exploiting his name to sell cards, roses, and chocolates to gold, diamond, and platinum. Moreover, we are not satisfied with marketing the ‘ways’ associated with love only for one day. We have invented so many curtain raisers (Rose Day etc.) before the Valentine’s Day.
On a serious note, St Valentine will also hang his head in shame when he learns that even though we are living in the twenty first century we are seducing girls so that it will add to the numbers of our community.
At the other extreme, we are killing the people who genuinely choose love in spite of differences in social status, religion, caste, or creed.
I was deeply touched by the way poet Rahat Indori has put it.
फूल इस सोच में गुम हैं, के कहाँ महकेंगे, तितलियों के लब ए इज़हार पे पाबंदी है..... क़त्ल करने की खुली छूट है अब भी लेकिन, प्यार मत करना, यहां प्यार पे पाबंदी है.....
Education is one of the boring subjects to discuss when you are in a party. Everyone needs it, everyone is concerned about it, but how many are willing to go in for an in depth discussion about it?
When it comes to educating our children most of the parents usually go with the wind of the times, subject to their economic limitations. And immediate economic considerations always takes precedence over anything else like the actual talent or inclination of the child.
In depth discussion about educational issues may be boring. But, you will be surprised to know that a TED talk given by British Educationist Sir Ken Robinson is one of the most watched videos on TED website and Youtube.
Here in India the perception is created that much of the rot in the education system can be traced to Macauley. But, after hearing Ken Robinson I realised that it is a global phenomenon. Education was taken seriously by the governments in the nineteenth century to meet the growing need of the industrial revolution. Thus, while some aspects of education (maths, science etc) are overemphasised, other aspects like arts, music, dance etc., are never given the importance these subjects deserve in our school curriculum.
These talks are sprinkled with generous doses of humour. So whether you are an educationist, a parent, or a lover of British sense of humour, do not miss these videos.
(My book Sixteen Parenting Sutras is live now on amazon. It is also available on #KindleUnlimited)
Bugs Bunny’s casual inquiry – ‘What’s up, doc?’ – was not meant to elicit a detailed status update as Bunny himself (or, itself) hardly waited for the answer. But status update is very cool and hot these days in the era of smart phones. Whether you are interested or not, your phone is bombarded with status updates and messages of all kinds.
There are some friends who are just content with sending a good morning message to the group that we are members of. Some go a little far in sending the same message to my personal whatsapp number. Some go a little too far when, after sending the good morning message to our common whatsapp group and to my personal number, they send the same message to me through Facebook messenger.
Recently I read an interesting article titled – Whatsapp Freezes Because Indians Send Over 100 Crore Good Morning Messages It Just Can’t Handle. It means this fad is not a global phenomenon and now there is one more thing I as an India should be proud of.
In a country where people love to bombard you with good wishes morning, mid morning, mid day, after noon, evening, and night, getting out of whatsapp groups, that you are not interested in, becomes a sensitive issue. If I had not been a little rude, till now I must have been a member of about one hundred such groups. When you leave a group some admins do not express their disapproval openly or immediately, while some are a little vocal demanding an explanation as to what made you to choose this disastrous path of your life. Some may go a little far as they add you back again and again ignoring all your humble efforts to exit the group.
Some admins use innovative methods to keep the flock together, like the one where every one was made an admin immediately after he or she joined the group. How can you show your back to a group where you are a caretaker now?
Messaging apps have created a lot of duplicate Nirmal Babas. Messages and photos come with a rider that you must forward the message to ten others so that kripa ani suru ho jayegi.. (blessings will flow to you). But there are threatening messages too: ‘you must forward this to ten others or else..’
When social media arrived on the scene, people were already fed up with the biased attitude of the main stream media which has been considered as the fourth pillar of democracy. Some thought (and I think still they do) that social media would act as the fifth pillar of democracy.
But the fact is social media is slowly turning into a filthy pillars of democracy as we are bombarded with propaganda and rumours in the form of ‘forwarded as received’ messages. Most of the ‘forwarded as received’ messages turn out to be fake. Some messages kill people while they are still alive. Some warn about imminent earthquakes or other disasters quoting from privileged sources. It is unfortunate that people react to such messages without bothering to verify the authenticity of such forwarded messages.
Long before Shashi Kapoor actually died I got a forwarded message about his death. I immediately checked on google news and there was no such news. Now a days when authentic information is available at the same finger tip that as that of the forwarded message through the app, I fail understand why people do not take a few seconds to verify such news before forwarding it blindly to others.
The one thing I sometimes like are the jokes. But it is not a joke when you receive the same joke a dozen times a day, or worse when a joke lands up in the wrong forum. I am a member of a few spiritual groups and one day it was a shock of our life time when a lady member posted an adult joke in the forum. Of course later one one of her friends, in order to clear the embarrassment that hung around her, took pains to make us understand that it was one of her mischievous colleagues who did this.
What is far worse is when your well intentioned amorous messages land in the inbox of an unintended recipient. In my book – Idle Hours -I have discussed one such incident in humorous detail. However let me briefly state it here. Once I received a message on my whatsapp, ‘Janu I love you’. It was from a married lady who was not married to me. To make matters worse my wife saw the message first. Of course later it was confirmed that she had accidentally sent the message to me in stead of her husband and all parties were assured of it after necessary verification and certification. Everything ended well. But I leave the scenes of turbulence that must have happened in between to your generous imagination.
That’s all folks. Thanks for reading.
This post is now part of my book – The Perils of Being a Vegetarian and other idle ruminations. It has been withdrawn to comply with copy right and exclusivity issues.
As one of the blogger friends has mentioned in the comments of the previous post, this time around the wish was not a simple new year. Some wished a great English New Year, Some a great Christian New Year, and some a prosperous Gregorain New Year. In fact, in my previous post, I myself was wondering why we do not name it as the Christian New Year.
However, at this point of time, 2017 years After Christ, I think we should not be so fussy. The Gregorian calendar has now become the international standard for dating (no pun intended). So be it.
In fact, unless we are specifically reminded that celebrating the Gregorain new year is endemic to our cultural values, we will not start thinking seriously that it has the potential to uproot us from our native culture and religion.
Now imagine what would happen if every country, every region, every religion, and every sect rigorously started using its own version of calendar rejecting all other versions. In India itself we would have more than hundred types of calendars. If you boarded the train at Bareilly on 07.02. 2032, you would wake up in Bangalore after two days on 05.04.2130.
And imagine how difficult the life of the air traffic controllers and the pilots would be. Even Google and Microsoft will have a hard time to construct special algorithms to match your religious and cultural sensibilities and sense of time.
At the same time the same generosity should be extended to many other practices. Reservations have been expressed about the International Day of Yoga. A couple of years back clerics in Egypt issued edicts against yoga terming it as un-islamic. Even though yoga is more widely practiced in the Christain majority countries of the west than the country of its origin, Churches have expressed their disapproval.
Maybe, to avoid confrontation with the church, some yogic practitioners came up with a theory that yoga originated in the West. But I don’t think even such a theory will pacify the people who think yoga is a type of a subtle invasion to uproot people from their cultural and religious roots.
People who object to yoga on religious grounds should read the primary treatise on yoga: Patanjali’s yogasutras. To be a yogi you do not need first of all to believe in any particular concept of God, or heaven, or origin of the universe.
Mad Charvak says that this is the very reason religious leaders are afraid of yoga. Religions are driven by faith. When people follow reason and experimentation based on cause and effect there are chances that they will see through the various schemes they propagate in the name of religious faith.
Last year I did not want to wish my loved ones A Happy New Year. Let me assure you it was not for any religious reason. I was alarmed going through what some leading thinkers over the ages had said about happiness.
This year let me wish everyone to start the new year on a poetic note. To help your poetic journey, my anthology of poems – teach me to dream– will be available for free download from 3rd to 5th Jan 2018.
The concept of mono no aware that I discussed in part 2 finds expression in Japanese art and literature including in the works of the latest Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro. Even though the concept originated in the Heian Era (8th-12th century), it started gaining prominence in Japanese culture with the works of the 18th century scholar Motoori Norinaga.
The sweetest songs are those that tell us of our saddest thoughts (PB Shelly). But songs or no songs, the sadness about the passing of beautiful things and pleasant moments may have an underlying elusive shade of sweetness. Maybe, that is what mono no aware is all about.
The Heian Era also saw the origin of the three art forms of Japanese refinements: kado, kodo, and chado. Kado is the native name for the Japanese art of flower arrangement which is also known as ikebana. Kodo is appreciating the subtle variations of incense and chado is the famous Japanese tea ceremony. The origin and refinement of all the three forms bear the influence of Buddhism.
I am fascinated by the Japanese tea ceremony. It is said that a Buddhist monk discovered tea. While dhyan which traveled from India became a refined form of meditation and culture known as Zen after reaching Japan, the simple act of taking tea to remain alert and ward off cold developed into a kind of religion reaching its Zenith during the time of emperor Hideyoshi and tea master Sen No Rikyu.
Chado can be loosely translated as the way of the tea. Detailed attention is given to the choice of the utensils, the movements of the host and the guests. The decoration inside is austere following the principle of wabi-sabi. There are four basic elements of the ritual: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. Care is taken to see that the location of the tea house, its surroundings, its interior and the objects inside are all in harmony. One has to bow down or crawl to reach inside, kneel down and bow to the hanging scroll and sit down in tatami. It is like going inside a temple. A special connection between the host and the guest is made when they honour each other. Purity is obtained when the actions of the host seem spontaneous, not rehashed. The overall effect is meditative, tranquil bringing all participants to here and now.
Another concept of aesthetics associated with Japanese art, literature, and culture is yugen. The underlying principle is that certain deeper truths cannot be explicitly expressed and can only be alluded to or hinted at. Even those that can be explicitly expressed can achieve a sublime and mysterious status by being alluded to thus deepening their effect.
I started this series with a clarification about the poetry form haiku. Some readers have opined that we cannot be too strict about the form of poetry that has undergone change over the centuries. Agreed. However, it should not water down to a lamentation about the low office wage with no reference to nature or with nothing to juxtapose. To end this series, here a few of my favourite haikus:
Come come ! I call ... but the fireflies flash way into the darkness (Onitsura) Watching the spring moon rise I no longer bother about the mountains (Kyorai) (hint: the spring moon is more transient than the mountain) What does this mean? Chrysanthemums and jonquils blooming together (shiki) The leaves never know which leaf will be first to fall.. does the wind know? (Soseki) Preach away cricket it doesn't matter to me I know it's autumn (Soseki) There goes a beggar naked except for his robes of heaven and earth (Kikaku) Since I first became a hermit The frogs have sung only of old age (Issa) Day darken! frogs say by day at night they cry bring light old grumblers (Buson) How can a creature be so hated as a winter fly yet live so long (kikaku) Among these lovely cherry blossoms a woodpecker hunts for a dead tree (Joso) If my grumbling wife were still alive I just might enjoy tonight's moon (Issa) Over the ruins of a shrine a chestnut tree still lifts its candles (Basho) An old silent pond into the pond a frog jumps splash ! silence again (Basho) (This seemingly simple haiku has hundreds of translations and interpretations. All I can say is while reading this haiku if you get a feeling of here and now, you need not bother the hundred intellectual interpretations of the poem)
My next book, an anthology of poems which will be released shortly, will include some micro poems. Let me assure you I will not claim those as haikus. 😀