do self help books help?

self-help

Those who can, they do; those who cannot, they teach – thus goes an old maxim.

This can be a bit harsh to the teachers and coaches. Of course I include the writers of self help books and motivational speakers in this category. I say this even thought I myself have been and still do, off and on,  teach, give pep talks and write on ‘Art of Living’.

It does not mean that teachers are not successful. Only thing is that their growth, in the field that they are teaching now, has stopped.

Now  consider this. If somebody is passionate about science, he (she included) would go into the depths of science and come up with some invention or land mark scientific theory. He would not plunge into teaching science right after graduation or post graduation.

Players usually become coaches when they are well past the time when they could win at professional sport. In a sense they are teaching because now they can’t.

In fact I would rephrase the saying to say that  those who can should not teach, at least while they are still doing it and in the filed they are doing it. There comes a conflict of interest issue here. When a writer conducts creative writing workshop  I do not think she will honestly pass on all the secrets and tricks that has made her successful. Similarly, a professional payer cannot share all his secrets to others who are either his competitors or his potential competitors.

Today the book market is flooded with self help books. It is another issue that that the majority of the self help books do not help as was found out in a survey done some time back.

Before picking up a self help book one should do this simple probing. Did this author succeed in any thing other than in the field of writing self help literature. Recently, a book titled Success Mantra became a best seller in India. At least it was claimed to be so. The writer of the book is Mr. Subrat Roy and he wrote this book while he was in jail for his fraudulent practices. No doubt he has been successful. But what kind of success are we talking of?

Those who never worked in an office writer books about how to succeed in the workplace. Sometimes, people who failed in every field they tried their hands on, write books about how to achieve success and suddenly the book becomes a best seller.

Similarly,  I come across a number of motivational speakers whose only claim to fame is being a successful motivational speaker. Many of them chose this field because they could not stick to and persevere in their earlier chosen fields. Some of them might have been kicked out of their earlier jobs. Yet, they are hired by companies by paying hefty sums to motivate their employees to work hard and be more productive.

It is not that I have been a strict adherent of the wisdom I am dispensing here. I have also read a number of best seller self help books. One thing I have noticed is that if you pick any book, not only does it say why this book is the best book,  it also tries to convince you that all the other books are totally out of time and useless. Now examine another scenario. Suppose there are 100 self help bestsellers. Every books proclaims that other ninety nine books would not work. So by the authors’ own collective admissions 99% of self help books do not help.

But all self help books are not totally useless. Occasionally, you may comes across a book that dispenses wisdom and insights to uplift you.

I have come across friends and colleagues who are addicted to self help books. They do not read anything else. If you are one of them, remember: there had been successful people since the time of Adam, long before the Americans started flooding the market with self-help books.

Of course, you may take solace in this positive possibility. If you read enough number of books on how to become a motivated productive employee, one day you my end up becoming one of those motivational authors or speakers.

Well, what has been your experience? Please leave your opinions.

to judge or not to judge

The dictionary too has two contexts to judge the word judgement. One is secular, the other one is religious.

The secular meaning of the word is : the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions, a couple of the synonyms associated being discrimination &  discernment. In practical world judgement is necessary to make choices.

The religious definition is: a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment. In stead of feeling  sympathetic to another’s suffering  one can have a little devilish pleasure without feeling guilty by believing in this definition. Maybe, that is the reason the biblical injunction warns us: judge not, lest you be judged.

All judgments are based on certain facts. But. do the judges get all the facts? Is it possible to get all the facts?

After getting all the facts, the judgement is worked out based on certain premises. Then, how to decide whether the premises are not questionable?

judgement hammerIn my earlier post I see you as you are I have narrated how forming prima-facie opinions and labeling people can some times lead to funny situation and sometimes to disastrous consequences.

But, in society, judgments have to be delivered. The guilty needs to be punished. The social structure needs to be preserved. No doubt quite often the innocents get punished while the guilty go scot-free. But again, who am I to judge as to who is really guilty?

The fallacy of  wise judgement is illustrated best by this Zen story:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

If nations brought in Zen and Budhha into their judicial system all the jailers would be jobless. Nevertheless,  the Buddha story about the angry man who spit on his face illustrates the futility of judging people solely based on their past deeds.

Maybe, that is the reason the Nobel committee awards Nobel Peace prize not based on the awardee’s past  but, the future. While Mahatma Gandhi, inspired by whom many got the Nobel prize, was not considered for the prize, Obama got it.

Obama was nominated for the prize just nine days into his office and was awarded the prize, to the surprise and shock of many including himself, when he had barely finished nine months in his office.

Then, of course, you always have the excuse in hindsight – the error of judgement, when the irreparable damage has already been done.

ssp_email
Indian Bloggers

being woman

 

On one hand, in our ancient literature, we deified her, put her on high pedestal as the female version of God calling her the epitome of power as Durga or, the bestower of wealth as Laxmi, or the dispenser of wisdom as Saraswati.

On the other hand, in two of our most revered epics we held her responsible as the root of all conflicts. We gave her less rights and enormous responsibilities, in one case to manage five husbands and in another, to pass through fire to prove her fidelity.

Indian BloggersIn China women were not considered to be possessing a soul so that they could be treated and traded like any inanimate object. In the gambling episode of Mahabharata an impression is given that women could be put on bet like any other material object. Thus, treating women like an object has been the bane of all ancient civilizations. Even in a so called progressive free thinking country like US, it was not untill 1920 that women got voting rights. Even today, in certain religions, it is perfectly legal to treat women as dispensable objects.

Has the situation in India changed much?

Large segments of Indian population still are uneducated, underfed and live in backward areas.  Fetal killing of potential female child is still prevalent in man y parts of India. No doubt many positive steps have been taken by successive governments like reservation in the local bodies and the latest campaign- “beti padhao beti bachao“. But, unless the mindsets of majority of people change, there will not be much change in the ground reality is spite of incentive schemes.

In the context of today’s India I would suggest the following six point program to empower women. I know a few of the suggestions  are too serious to be implemented. Nevertheless, please do not laugh these off.

  •  Beti padhao and beti bachao should not just remain a slogan and should be implemented across all segments of society.
  • In family settings it is seen that women act against other women. Many elderly ladies give preferential treatments to male children giving the impression that their female siblings are children of a lesser god. Thus, since early childhood wrong impression is given about gender parity.
  • Even if women are give positions of power, quite often they are just used as proxies, as happened with Rabri Devi in Bihar. Ultimately, it boils down to the mindset of people. The society must be comfortable with women enjoying all kinds of rights at par with men. No discrimination should be made by the family or society or the state in terms of opportunities and compensation.
  • The time has come for women themselves to come forward. I think it will be a mark of true feminism when women consider the plight of the less fortunate ones and fight for women of all part of the society in stead of restricting their movement to a few fashionable or intellectuals issues.

Now the more serious ones –

  • All the feminists should come forward united at least for this issue. Now a days, a lot of wife bashing jokes are in circulation in social media giving it the impression that women are already empowered and there is not need to do anything further. They should call for a blanket ban on all such jokes and if required file a case in Supreme Court like it happened sometime back when someone filed a petition against Santa Banta jokes. (To hell with your sense of humour, you male chauvinists)
  • Last but not the least,  Modiji should create a separate ‘women empowerment’ ministry. As the minister for this department he should choose … no no not Sushma Swaraj,  …….. no no not Smriti Irani…. but Rahul Gandhi himself. You may say that he does not belong to his party. Nevertheless, Modiji should show some compassion. After all,  Rahul Gandhi is the only politician who has used the term ‘women empowerment’ more number of times than his biological age. Moreover, this is an opportunity for Modiji to compensate for all the jibes he has taken at Rahul till now.

no romeos please, we are indians

 

It is not that only celebrity authors like Chetan Bhagat mutiliated beautiful words like girlfriend to make it half girlfriend. India has a glorious tradition of debasing beautiful legends.

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.

Indian BloggersShakespear’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 )

pda.jpg
Image source: Newtimes

girlfriend by two

 

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.

Half girlfriend?

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?

Indian BloggersWhen 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.

“So what?”

“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.

chetan.png
image credit: schoopwhoop.com

Love is in the Air

love
American Bald Eagles during mating season

To associate love with sacrifice is divine. To mix love with pleasure is human. And to make business out of love is American.

According to the Greeting Card Association of America 25% of all cards sent are valentines. Of course, now it is a global trend.

Well, love is in the air. In India it is the Spring season which has been traditionally associated with harvests, festivals, flowering and romance. Then of course, now a days we have caught up fast with this international tradition of celebrating the legacy of St. Valentine.

At this age I cannot join the the young enthusiastic valentine brigade. I cannot ‘beat’ them either by joining the moral brigade in India who are suddenly on a Swadeshi hype. I am still a fence sitter. Maybe, there is no harm in just ruminating a bit on various aspects of love.

Flavours of Love

Love is something that everyone experiences in some form or other. No amount of talk or preaching about love can transfer one’s experience of love to another.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Love is that glue that holds everything together”. Going by this definition, everything is love, expressed in its various flavors or distortions. No one is devoid of love. Even the so called loner loves his loneliness, disregarding the love poured on him by nature from all sides.

Gurudev also says that the negative emotions like anger, lust etc are distortions of love. Love for the objects becomes greed, love for perfection becomes anger, love for one’s own supremacy becomes jealousy. Taken to extreme, coupled with a sense insecurity, one’s love for one’s religion, race, language etc.  may make one a chauvinist, bigot or extremist depending on one’s intensity and stupidity.

Transcending Relative Love

When love  is relative, all these flavors and distortions are experienced. Love for parents, love for one’s own children, love for siblings, romantic love etc. are all different flavors of love. Then there is love of the highest order, when all these relative flavors are transcended. That is what Maharshi Narada calls in His Bhakti Sutras parama prema rupa or the ultimate love or the absolute love or bhakti. Bhakti may start as a love for the divine in form or formless. But it flowers to its ultimate state when love remains without its distortions. Then one becomes love and one’s being permeates love.

The Legend of St. Valentine

Somewhat similar to the eastern concept of Bhakti is the Christian concept of ‘Agape’. Four kinds of love are described in the Bible. The lowest being the erotic love (Eros) and the highest being the Agape, exemplified by the love of Jesus Christ to humanity and God. In between are Storge (family love) and Philia (brotherhood or love between co-followers of Jesus) .

Many scholars trace the origin of  Valentine’s Day to the ancient pagan ‘fertility’ festival of Rome celebrated on 15 Feb. Later on, along with the people of Rome, the festival too was Christianized and renamed as Valentine’s Day, to commemorate  agape. Towards 14th century the term came to be associated with romantic love. Fourteenth Century English Poet Chaucer extended Valentine’s Day beyond human beings, when he wrote:

“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,
When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

By the way, nothing is known for sure about the St. Valentine- the inspiration for the Valentine’s Day. There are many versions of the legend of St. Valentine. However, according to the majority of scholars and theologians, this day is associated with the St. Valentine who, performed secret marriages in 3rd century Rome against the dictate of the emperor to debar young men from marrying  so that they became better soldiers.

The English Church removed the feast Day associated with St. Valentine in 1969 citing his questionable origin.

P.S. – I Love You

This expression is commonly used to express love, particularly in western countries and the westernized in other countries. Even a romantic movie has been made by this name. As we know, P.S is abbreviations of ” Post Script”,  written at the end of a letter when someone remembers to have forgotten to write something in the main script.

I wonder what kind of love it is that comes as a post script, some kind of an afterthought. If there is love, it is there at the beginning, in the middle and at the end, it is a continuum. If you love something, you do not make it a side issue or forget it.

Some say, the expression is used to remind the other how much one loves the other. It is like saying – “By the way, do not forget that I love you”. Do real lovers keep on reminding expressly how much they love each  other? Like everything else, as we progress in the name of civilization, is love also becoming formal, superficial?

Indian Bloggers

Wear Your T-shirt to Humanity

The other day my social activist friend said,” Come on we have to start doing something some where”.

“Where exactly do we start? Do you have an action plan”, I asked in a friendly voice, even though he would often term me,  in as unfriendly manner as possible, as a speed breaker.

“It is like this. We go and raise funds. Then we buy fifty thousand T shirts”.

Being a born skeptic, I asked, “T Shirts?”.

“I mean these will not be ordinary T shirts. We will get the slogan -Save Trees – printed boldly on both the front and back of the T shirts. If needed we will go for another fund raising to organise a grand function. We will invite a celebrity I know to inaugurate the T shirt”.

“Great”,   I said. “Why can’t we use the funds to plant trees. Directly. As simple as that”.

My friend was agitated. Annoyed. I could see the passion of social service burning in his eyes. “You people will never appreciate my subtle ideas. You will never understand. First it is important to educate people. You know, educate people. Create awareness. You know, create awareness”.

He went on and on till I surrendered. His idea was that writing ‘cigarette smoking is injuries to health’ was the only way to eradicate smoking from this earth once and for ever.

We are a people of symbols and gestures.  It is in our DNA. That is why events and campaigns about social ills start with a bang and fizzle out in a couple of months, till another grand even after a couple of months comes up to cover up for all our callousness.

Occasions like campaigning for swatchh bharat are great opportunities for schools to improve their brand value. It also provides an opportunity for the teachers and students to upgrade their social media status. You may clean something in the morning and by evening it is back to square one. That is why one should not make one’s hands dirty and preserve their cleanliness to to utilise for a fantastic selfie.

During those initial days of swatchh bharat mania, it was a usual sight to see a duo or trio of  school teachers  driving a herd  of school kids holding placards and shouting slogans. They also held brooms and stopped every now and then for selfies and photo ops. I was so much swayed by their enthusiasm I also joined them. (Not because one of the teachers was pretty, mind you). At the end of the rigorous ritual lasting for one hundred and twenty minute, each child and teacher, on an average, must have spent one hundred minutes in selfies and photo ops. One teacher confided in me, “There is strict instruction from the principal. The photos must be of good quality. This event will be a watershed one for our school magazine. We will also go for a press release”

Social media like whatsapp have created another brand of social activists. You can feel the fire in their fingers. They are experts in forwarded as received messages. They do no have even time to read the messages. Because in a day they have a set a target of 10, 000 messages to be forwarded. So, you cannot accuse them of not understanding the messages.  However, it makes them appear more humane than you are. They even threaten you and emotionally black mail you. “You must forward the message to hundred others, or else you are not a patriot/ your are not a human being / you do not love your mother and so on”.  By the way I have lost a couple of close old friends because I dared to exit from such non sense groups created by them to spread socially bullshit messages. On their part, such virtual activists are absolved of all the social responsibility that comes up with being actively associated with the issues on the ground.

In the ultimate analysis, it makes sense to wear your T shirt to humanity.  You might have erroneously and unintentionally (and very humanely, because to err is human) killed a couple of animals and human beings, but wearing a T shirt is regret enough to absolve you of all your sins, because now you appear more humane than your fellow human beings and animals who choose not to flaunt such a T shirt.

being gandu

image source: https://teespring.com/shop/beinggandu#pid=6&cid=619&sid=front


Indian Bloggers

Sunday Musings and Random Notes #8

Wishing you all a happy  wonderful New Year

First of all, here is wishing my dear reader a wonderful New Year. May you remain cheerful and passionate irrespective of whether a few wishes got fulfilled or not.

Note that I have not used the word happy. There are reasons for it –   profound and scary reasons that google threw at me in form of quotes while I was searching for something else. Take the first example:

happy-1

So there is no point in having good health and selfishness if, these are not backed by a healthy dose of stupidity. However, it provides for a lot of hope. To be happy is not that big deal after all. It paints a very rosy picture of  human society since time immemorial- the vast majority of human society have never been as unhappy as we have made it out to be.

The following one is a very strong argument as to why one should not wish another anything related to happiness:

happy-3

However, the following is the scariest of them all:

happy-4

And finally a ray of hope, provided by non other than one of those highest priests of Christianity:

happy-5

Of course, I am not sure whether all/some/any of the above quotes have been attributed to the right source. Now a days on social media, every now and then one comes across strange quotes attributed to strange people. Sometimes, people making up these quotes do not seem to have even elementary knowledge of history. So, Swami Vivekananda gives very sound advice on the side effects of social media and Mahatma Gandhi warns us about the impending disasters when one harbours thoughts like those of Donald Trump.

But I am sure the following one must have been spoken (or, at least thought of) by Adolf Hitler, who swayed even the most intelligent persons of Germany to his Nazist point of view with his banal rhetoric. I am afraid this must also be the secret of success of  writers like Chetan Bhagat churning out best sellers and Salman Khan movies making multiple crores.

happy-6

Here is wishing you again, a happy (er. sorry) , a wonderful new year. 

Three blogposts that you may have missed

I started this blog in July this year.

A blogger is not like an ideal parent for whom all children should be equal favourites. Nevertheless, he has paternal instincts. It is natural for parents to give special  attention to that child who lagged behind other siblings while at the same time proudly bringing to attention of the special skills of a particular child. The following blogposts from this year are a mix of both.

When the wrapper is considered superior to the gift inside

It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place

The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact

What is in a Name?

Shakespeare was not born in India. If he were, he would not have said, “What is in a name? That which call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”.

Here in India Name is everything, not only in a spiritual context as emphasized by Guru Nanak Dev, but also in a social, materialistic, patriotic and pragmatic context as glorified by the common man, celebrity, the politician and the military leader. If I meet Shakespeare I would point out “Sir, even if calling rose by any other name does not affect its smell, it does not sound the same or spell the same and these differences have different connotations for different people”. Of course he may counter argue, “But it is your Gods who justify my point. In your country every God of some reckoning has a thousand names. But aren’t they same in essence as you claim”. He may also lament the fact that in the western part of the world few Gods can afford to have more than one name.

Indian BloggersFor the common man his reputation and social standing revolves around his name. Being well known is like having a big name (naam bada), being disgraced is to get a bad name (badnaam), and tarnishing somebody’s reputation is as good as reducing his name to dust (mera naam mitti mein mila diya). In a society that puts a premium on honour and reputation people would rather reduce themselves to ashes than see their name being reduced to dust.

The celebrity is actually more obsessed with the composition of her name than what her name smells or sounds. “Success ke liye kuchh bhi karega’ is her mantra as she runs to astrologers, palmists, numerologists, tarot readers and parrot readers to work out what alphabet to insert or delete from her name so that the next project is a run away hit. My page three specialist friend himself being a star vedic astrologer  argues, “It only shows the impeccable professional attitude of our celebrities. In this age of professionalism, as we have specialist choreographers to take care of dancing and experts of hair, skin, teeth, eyes, ears, hands, nails etc to take care of respective body parts, so we have professional soothsayers to take care of the names”.

When we evaluate our post independent progress, along with population growth and advancements made in different areas of human activity we must give due weightage to the number of times we have changed the names of squares, villages, streets, cities, districts and states. In case a foreigner, who has not been keeping himself updated about Indian current affairs for the last twenty years, comes across an updated India map now, may assume that cities like Bombay, Calcutta and Madras have been gobbled up by the sea due to global warming.

Our swadeshi leaders would like us to believe that a more Indianised name is the first step towards becoming more Indian. However, as globalised Indians we cannot sever our ties with all things English. While the Indian name of our country is Bharat,  we have English abbreviations for all lengthy Indian names. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited becomes BSNL and not bhasanili, BJP rather than bhajapa is the more popular abbreviation and who would understand what you are saying when you refer the Biju Janata Dal as bijada instead of BJD?

Whats-in-a-Name.jpg

Sunday Musings and Random Notes #7

Indian Bloggers

The Great Indian Escape

“Which movie are you going to watch today, elder brother?” I would ask quite often in a routine manner to one of my senior fellow boarders. He  was a great movie buff. Or, so I thought that time. I am talking of those  glorious decades of 70s and 80s for the Indian Cinema.   His answer was equally routine, “I do not know. Let me see. Any way I will tell you once I come back.”

It would be in one of those Telugu movies that he would land up most of the time. My home town which has a large Telugu population lies near Andhra border. Odiya movies were few and far between and Bollywood reels of new releases took six months to arrive. So, if you made up your mind that you must see at least twenty movies a month, it had to include a fair dose of Telugu movies, irrespective of whether you understood Telugu or not.

My senior boarder was not alone in such adventures. There were many. Every now and then, we would hear of stories of  so and so who failed for the fourth time in the final year exams. Then, we would hear the town loudmouth’s foregone conclusion: If you substitute the cinema hall for the class room round the year, what better results can you expect?

 If somebody was found in the cinema hall to bunk torturous classes, some one might be there to escape a sadist boss. Or, maybe a father. Or, wife. Or, real life in general.

The majority of the middle class of those days was not moneyed enough to afford escapes of these days like weekend getaways, dinner in a fancy restaurant, day out in an amusement park or such things. Television was not in vogue. Twenty twenty was not conceived of yet.  Nor was an evening in a mall just for the sake of window shopping. Whatever little surplus a lower middle class had, after his roti kapda aur makaan needs, went into buying a few second or third class seats in a movie hall that did not have the basic amenities like  ac, cooler and sometime a toilet. And to cater to the fantasies of this middle class, Indian movies with angry young men or, different types of other larger than life characters became the hallmark of block busters.

Coming to the present times, before I had the opportunity of watching a movie in one of the multiplexes in a posh mall, I had thought, it must be the serious movie buffs who went to watch a movie paying such hefty sums. (And not to speak of the cost of the snacks and cold drinks that remind you of an international airport). But I was proved wrong the very first time I saw a movie in one of those multiplexes. It was some Hollywood block buster 3D movie that I  was watching in an Imax. Even a  slight disturbances in the form of somebody moving in front or lighting up his cellphone caused great annoyance. But my neighbour was not bothered by any of these annoyances. Nor was he aware about the annoyances he  himself was bent upon perpetrating by being engrossed in his whastapp chat through out the length and the breath of the movie.

“So, he has come to the theater because he thought it the best place on earth to carry on an engrossing whatsapp conversation”, I concluded.

Not being born and brought up in an English speaking country, I  strain hard to listen and make out the whispering dialogues of the Hero. It is a crucial moment of the movie. So I strain harder. And how fervently do I wish the  crackle crackle cuddre cuddre, chap chap, ha ha ha, he he he coming from my back seat stopped. But finally I resign it to my fate of the day. As if the whole universe was conspiring to see that I did not enjoy the movie smoothly, in spite of buying the the city’s most expensive cinema ticket of the day.  The sounds have been there, as if these were part of the soundtrack of the movie, intermittently from the first reel to the last reel, with a little respite during the interval when the gobblers went  for replenishment. And to top it all,  a hearty laugh at the most melodramatic moment of the movie.

Maybe, some come here just to eat, drink and make merry and to laugh at yesterday’s jokes remembered and understood in the typical ambiance of a cinema hall and that to at the most melodramatic moment and in spite of the pricing of snacks reminding one of air travel.

And some say, a large number of flop movies are made so that unofficial romantic couples could have some private space and time for themselves.

My conclusion is that, whatever money the movie made, only fifty percent of it came from people who really wanted to see the movie and enjoy it. That should give a realistic assessment of the popularity of the movie, for the sake of the movie.

Producers, directors and actors please take note.

But there is something one cannot escape from, alive

Of course I am talking of life, from which you cannot escape alive. It was after a long time that I was watching a quality Bollywood movie. That the movie was educative, or rather refreshed my understanding about certain basic fundas of life was an added bonus. At the same time the movie was not preachy.

Never expected such mature acting from Alia Bhatt. Shahrukh is at his as usual best. It seems Gauri Shinde put her heart and soul to make such a wonderful movie- Dear Zindagi. 

You may also read : A few good movies

Previous week, ended up with the Fantastic Beasts, just to accompany my son, whom I had promised to take for this movie long time back. (Actually it was he who made me promise, and it was he who brought my attention to the the movie). I am not much of a Harry Potter fan. But, nevertheless I have watched all the parts. And read maybe, half of one of the books. All the movies had appealed to the child in me. This one was no different. I enjoyed it, if not more, at least as much as my son did. It is a fantastic movie.

Towards the end of the movie,  there is a kind of reversal of time. It is a strange coincidence that this reversal of time occurred towards the end of ‘Dr. Strange‘ as well . Well, this was the movie that I had watched the previous to previous weekend. A strange hotchpotch of Indian concepts of outer body travel, relativity of time, immortality and modern concepts like multiverse. Of course the stunning visuals, and the stray humours thrown in here and there ensured that you were not bored while thinking of the complex scientific (or, seemingly scientific) themes explored in the movie. It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Because of the large number of Indian mystic concepts used in the movie, if your are an Indian chauvinist,  you are definitely going to like it man. There may be a slight disappointment because the Hero goes to Nepal and not India to learn all those mystic theories.

So three movies over three consecutive weekends. Each of the movies was great in its own way. Four point nine out of five to each.

And, what better weekends could you ask for.