desultory thoughts while sitting on a mall bench

Sitting here on a bench in a posh city mall, while my family and my friends are on the hunt for the best deals and some window shopping, I am cleaning my cell phone frantically of the deluge of religious and patriotic messages sent by my whatsapp activist friends. Today is Janmastami and tomorrow is the Independence Day.

The mall too is celebrating the Independence Day by organising a fashion show with a swadeshi theme and a lottery. The ground floor where I am sitting is abuzz with preparatory activities. Ironically,  all the shops on this ground floor where the swadeshi event will take place, sell western brand of clothing and other products.

The word mall has some strange similarity with the swadeshi word mela. White skinned Indic scholars and their supporters may say that the word mela is derived from the word ‘mall’. Indophiles and their swadeshi supporters may argue to the contrary.

I  am reminded of the village fairs of my childhood days. The atmosphere would be totally charged up with hustle bustle and noise. Sometime there would be a lot of heat and dust. A mall is protected from the seasonal fluctuations and the heat and dust of the Indian outdoor. And barring those occasional promotional events, it is so cool and silent. Like a funeral .

And nobody treated you at the entrance of a mela as a potential terrorist and groped you by your shirt and pant pockets. Of course, everything has two sides. While on one hand, the global expansion of terrorism has raised concerns of radicalization, on the other hand, it has given a big boost to the billion dollar security industry.

One thing is common between the mela and the mall. Both are places of milan – primarily for the potential buyers and sellers. Of course many other kinds open and clandestine meetings also happen.

Ironically, Indian movies have used the mela for family break up. How can we, the movie buffs of Amar Akbar Anthony era forget the most popular formula  – two brothers or an entire family getting separated in a mela to be reunited in a climax where the villain has bound the some key members of the family in chains.

Reference to mela abound in Bollywood movies and songs, with a number of movies even taking up the title. The word mela has festive connotations. But the ‘mela’ of 1948 starring Dileep Kumar is a tragic movie. The tragedy about the 2000 movie starring Amir Khan and Twinkle Khanna is that it was one of the biggest flops of the year.

Shopping and eating out not being my favourite pastimes I search for other avenues so that I don’t feel out of place here. I was a student of economics honours. Maybe, I should speculate on the macro economics of city malls. But, why to load the brain with the complicated theories learnt and forgotten three decades back.

I decide to go to the the electronics shop on the first floor to have a look at the latest developments in digital technology. A salesman is demonstrating a model of a home theater. The TV channel is belting out –  duniya hasino ka mela, mele mein yeh dil akela. But, the heart of the potential male customer is definitely not alone as he seems to be accompanied by his newly married female partner.

However,  it may be applicable to life in general. It is a different story that our hero cannot find a suitable girl to connect to his lonely heart. But, the author of the song sees the world as a fair ground of fairer sex.

 Basically we see, what we want to see. 

one year of one life is not enough – a recap

The first blog post was written exactly on this date last year.

Of course this is not my first blog. Two out of the earlier three blogs were lost to unprofessional hosting services. Unfortunately,  in one case I lost half of the posts as well due to my casual attitude towards regular back ups. Now I ensure that I back up regularly even though the blog is now hosted on the server of a trusted service provider.

Another blog that I used to have on blogger platform has been closed down as it was not practicable to have two blogs on the same theme.

I am thankful to all my fellow bloggers and readers for their encouragements and feedback. Hope, your love will continue to shower.

My special thanks to Ruchi Verma of Wiggling Pen (Formerly For Foodie Family) for considering my blog as the best personal blog of 2016.

Here are a random selection of ten posts that you might have missed:

1.   Bhajiwali’s Husband  : My maiden attempt at fiction (short story). Tried to find out a suitable name for the bhajiwali’s husband. But, could not.

2.  I see you as you are : Wouldn’t  it be a nicer world if we saw individuals as individuals stripping each one from their ethnic, religious or other kinds of stereotyping.

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3. Colours of a subzi bazaar: We are all familiar with a typical Indian subzi mandi. But have we ever taken a close look or soaked in its colourful ambiance? Interestingly captioned, this collection of photos  captures the moods of the neighborhood vegetable market.

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4. It takes all the running you can do to to keep in the same place: Certain quotes and lines that linger your mind vaguely may make sense much later. Same thing happened with this line from ‘Alice in Wonderland’,.

alice_in_wonderland

5. When the wrapper is considered superior to the gift inside: emphasising the inner over the outer, Sant Kabir, in one of his couplets, says – Jat Na Puchho Sadh Ki Puchh Lijyo Gyan. One should not ask for the caste of a saint but know him from his wisdom. Seen from another context the saying highlights the obsession of the society with the outer.

6. Sunday musings and random notes #5: I have posted a series of lighthearted musings titled ‘Sunday musings and random notes’. This one with a few puns thrown in here and there takes a peak into the Bond movies over the years.

sanskari-bond-2

7. My idea of an evolved human being: The title says it all. It is about my idea of an evolved human being. It is what I personally strive to evolve into, in spite of being taken advantage of at times.

8.  The Revelation: My attempt at composing a sher in angrezi. A micro poem of just four lines. I could have as well written it here. Then, you would have missed the photo and some insightful comments.

9.  Suppose dogs were allowed status update: Another micro read. A funny take on the world of social media update. A short read.

10. Love is in the air: An attempt to explore various flavours of love, including the mundane ones.

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events galore in bengaluru

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Like any other metro city, Bengaluru is host to numerous events – literary, culinary, cultural, artistic, social & unsocial, open and clandestine. Much as am I tempted to attend many of the events, a person of not so affluent means like me is not only restrained from the financial angle, but also by the limited availability of leisure time after spending eight  hours on a job and four hours on commuting on a daily basis.

Even on weekends Bangalore traffic can be nasty quite often. In spite of all the constraints, I try not to miss the literary events, especially the literature festivals.  I have already shared my experience of Times Literature Festival and Bangalore Literature Festival  on this blog.

I was one of the invitees to the #BererXp Indiblogger meet Bangalore. I was eagerly looking forward to attend the event as it was an opportunity to interact with other bloggers from the city. However, an unexpected personal problem that popped up at the last moment ensured that I was deprived of this opportunity. Nevertheless, I had the vicarious pleasure of attending the meet by reading the accounts of the events shared by fellow bloggers.

There is a large Air Force Station where I stay.  As there are people from all over India, many cultural events of other states are organised here on a regular basis. These are kinds of religio-cultural events like Durga Puja, Ganesh Puja and the car festival of Lord Jagannath. Alongside the puja rituals, there would be galore of cultural events everyday. Even though these are organsied by specific communities, people from all walks of life participate in the events wholeheartedly.

 It is only in Bengaluru that I have had the opportunity to watch many kinds of national and international sports events. My first stint in Bengaluru was from 1989 to 1995. Then I was serving in Indian Air Force. Whenever there was any international cricket tournament, the authorities sought defense personnel for security duties. I had the opportunity to attend a couple of international cricket matches as a security supervisor. Those days security duties were not that risky like in these days when every crowd gathering is a potential target for terrorist modules working in India. Moreover, as security supervisor one had access to all areas of the stadium.

The test matches were sleepy no doubt, the saving  grace being one had a chance to see the sport stars in flesh and blood. Even the pace of the One Day matches were not as frantic as the matches have been after the T-20 format came into  existence.

Since long I have stopped being an enthusiast of the game of cricket. During the last season of the IPL when a friend came up with a couple of complimentary tickets for the IPL, reluctantly though, I accompanied my family to witness the match. Oh boy, did I witness the match.

We reached the venue half an hour before the start of the match. The stadium was overflowing with people. Loud speakers, or should I say super loud speakers were blaring out music and the anchor’s shouts competing with the noise from the crowd. The decibel levels were so high that it would have turned the tender ears of a young kid deaf for life.

Then the match started.

Hardly had the ball escaped from the bowler’s hand when the spectators sitting in from of us stood up with flags in hand, shouting and waving. There was no way to witness anything that was happening on the ground. This happened again and again. We had to look at the giant digital screen for a replay in order to know what was happening in front of us, on the ground below. Finally I calculated that for the three and half hours that the match was played, we watched the match directly for half an hour and the spectators backs and flags and the giant digital screen for three hours.

I am reminded of a similar incident when I stayed back to attend the rock  concert organised to mark the culmination of a literary festival. The audience was a mixture of those who had come exclusively for the rock concert (The rock star’s young fans) and those who had actually come for the literature festival but stayed back out of curiosity for the rock concert (consisting mostly of middle aged and old fellows).

At the scheduled time, the rock star came, saw and went back. After some time an announcement came that the rock star was annoyed that the audience members were sitting in chairs. So, the organizers had no way but to remove the chairs so that the rock star would come back to regale the audience. A couple of volunteers came to hound out all the young and old, strong and weak occupying the chairs.

After the last one of the chairs was removed from the venue the concert began. Every one was standing and standing with their mobile in video mode, flash on, while those with a little short in height struggled to have a glimpse of the rock star. With so many flash lights on, the elaborate colour lighting of the stage lost its sheen.

The rock star sang one line and asked the audience to repeat the line ten times. It was obvious that his hard core fans knew all his songs verbatim. After some time the fans sang his songs even without being asked. The hall was jam-packed and there was hardly any space to move about. A section of the audience started to dance unmindful of causing any physical injury to their neighbors.

Confused, bewildered and feeling out of time and space, I fled.

Maybe, we are living in an age where ‘sound’ packaging is taking centre stage in all walks of life pushing the content to the sidelines.

 

 

faux pas – e- kabootari

pigeon kabootar

Thus went our distorted version when the Bollywood song- Kabootar ja ja ja – was at its height of popularity:

Kabootar ja ja ja

Pehle pyar ki

doosri chithi

teesre ko de aaa

Have you ever been the unintended recipient of a love message from another’s wife? Well, I have been. I recoil with horror when I recall the three days of the ordeal that followed after, unfortunately,  my wife discovered the message.

Well, more of that later.

Of course, you must have felt jealous when your spouse got flattering attention from another of your sex and you were a little sidelined. If you think it is only the ladies who get more jealous in these matters compared to men, you are thoroughly mistaken. Count me out of course. When my wife gets undue attention from a male member of the society I just end the matter with a gentle chide.

Social media (facebook in particular) have become vine yards to display ones’ vanity without any impunity. While young girls display the specialty of their pouts, ladies want to extract as much jealousy as possible from their friend circle by flaunting their latest acquisition of  jewellery or costumes. Let us not be unfair to the fairer sex. Men also have found numerous ways to flaunt their vanity on Facebook and make fellow men livid with envy.

You may also read:  If dogs could have status updates

Once it so happened that when I came across the frequent FB status updates of a lady who is a family friend, being an occasional mischievous fellow, I heaped exaggerated praises on her beauty and sense of dressing. This did not go down well with my wife when she discovered this and demanded an explanation. Of course all ended well when my friend’s wife  explained that she was well aware of the satire behind my exaggerated praises. Her husband too laughed it off when he came to know about it. Finally no damage was done either to my reputation or to our relationship.

But in another occasion I was not so lucky even though I was not the harbinger of any mischief intentionally or unintentionally.

One day I got a message from a friend’s wife through whatsapp, “Janu, I love you”.

Knowing my personal romantic history and capability I was dead sure it was not meant for me. But still then.. may be … who knows? So to confirm my hope against hope I messaged back, after two days when I had partially recovered from the shock,  “Are you sure?”

She was surprised, and asked back, “Sure of what?”

Then I became double sure it was not intended for me. Just to show off what a gentleman I am, I wrote back to the lady that I have received such a message from your mobile no and I am sure it is not meant for me. Please send it to the intended person, most probably your husband in this case and please take care in future to see that such messages reach the right recipient. Immediately, she apologized and the matter ended there.

Or, so I thought.

Being a fellow of casual attitude on such sensitive matters  I did not bother to delete the message and coincidentally my wife came to know of it. I could sense the storm gathering. She also wanted to clarify the matter. But, we had some guests in our house. So, it was only after three days that we could sit down and settle down the issue after due verification, confirmation and counter verification of all the facts. But, those three days. I lived with a feeling that any time an earthquake was going to happen.

The above is a mixture of what actually happened and what might have happened. However, here is my message to all frantic users of social media:

When you are feeling romantic, please take extra care so that the kabootar – e-digital doesn’t convey your romantic feelings to an unintended recipient with a sensitive spouse. Your lousy faux pas – e – kabootari has all the unintended ingredients to rock someone’s steady boat. 

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.

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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.

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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?

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