Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Friday, November 28, 2008

13. Are You With Me?

I am extremely angry and like a volcano can erupt at any moment.
I am in grief – the intensity of which cannot be articulated.
I am experiencing Himalayan helplessness and I am devastated.
At the moment, I am a bundle of all sorts of complex and contradictory emotions.

As a community we have lost count of such events. We have lost count of lives that are affected. We conveniently forget the pain and suffering. We watch the bloody scenes with hell lot of interest. We discuss and keep on discussing. We never act.

How many bomb blasts have rocked India in last decade? How many people have died and how may live through it with a shock? How many dreams shatter and how much fundamentalism is seeded through such events? How it teaches us to distrust every stranger? How?

Earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones ….. the destruction is not new to us. For generations humanity has experienced it with awe, anger and surrender. The fear of unexpected attack is part of life. But human beings are crueler than nature. Nature makes and takes it back. Human beings can only take it back, they can never make it.

Fundamentalism is labeled with religion – media calls it Islamic Fundamentalism, Hindu Fundamentalism and so on. Let us come clean on this. Any act of fanaticism, fundamentalism is absolutely wrong. Bomb is a bomb and it takes away lives. One bomb, one Fundamentalism cannot be better than the other – both are equally worst. It is not only the quantity of destruction but also the intention of the action. Any violence aimed at innocents because they belong to certain religion, country, class, caste; gender, ethnicity … is unwarranted. Any kind of Fundamentalism should be done away with immediately and decisively. People should be given chance to correct mistakes, but not at the cost of others’ lives. The question ‘If they killed hundreds with bombs, why can’t we kill a dozen?’ – is wrong ideologically, philosophically, practically, legally, rationally, emotionally, spiritually … wrong from all sides. Never support such a destructive idea.

In a way we deserve it. The society who laughs, claps, appreciates and quotes Munnabhai (as if he is Gandhi of the present) forgetting that he is convicted by judiciary - has no right to complain. A person who has killed people by his rash driving, hunted protected animal gets welcome as a hero by mad crowds…. they do not have right to complain. A known drug addict who was celebrating ‘success’ within a month of his father’s death is listened to (about his girlfriends probably!) with attention. The nation is interested in who he is going to marry next … has no right to complain. A police commissioner of the city, whose appointment is questioned in the court, he still is the commissioner of the city and we all accept it .. . We do not have any right to complain. A person jailed for corruption becomes a minister and gets all the luxuries one can dream of …. those who accept it do not have right to complain. A nation where political parties have difference of opinion on whether to ‘forgive’ a terrorist for the attack on the parliament …. No, we do not have right to complain.

It is countless because it is all of us …. It is definitely most of us. We choose to be just spectators, and when it affects us we are dead, so we cannot protest, we cannot complain. We choose to feel safe, because ‘it is happening somewhere out there’. We choose to blame someone else, because that is the easiest thing to do. We are intelligent enough to say ‘what should have or have not happened’ but never active enough to make it happen or stop it happening.

Our earlier generations had a dream to make this society better. They dreamt of a strong India with justice, peace, freedom, food security, equity. They gave up their comforts and some gave up their life to make India strong. The flag had to be carried on by next generations. But with freedom, we became selfish and reckless. Looking at the present scenario I realize that I have not contributed to the positive change with my utmost capacity. I am guilty of not actively participating in the movement of change. I am guilty of not resisting the wrong at the right moment. I am guilty of allowing the helplessness to influence me. I am guilty of trying to fight with the system by becoming integral part of the system.

Let us commit ourselves to a cause. Let us create a better world not only for future generations but even for ourselves. Individuals too can make a great change with their determination and commitment. Let us act – now and here. Are you with me?

Friday, November 14, 2008

12. Tukaram

I started reading Tukaram Gatha on 1st of May; finished it on 31st of October. For exactly six months, I was with Tukaram. It was my choice.

I confess that I am bit disappointed with this association.

Nope. I am not arguing about Tukaram’s greatness or his unique contribution in shaping Marathi mind and culture. Whether I accept it or not, he is great.

What I am saying is just this: I did not enjoy reading Gatha as much as I had expected or as much as I would have liked. I am in a way (as always!) talking about ME (or is it I? I am always confused about this grammar) and not about Tukaram. So, please, don’t treat this as an attack on Tukaram. I generally do not attack anyone.

Why this happened? Process evaluation brought out these, you may please add:

1. Gatha consists of more than 4000 abhangas. This poetry style is sweet and effective when you have one or two. But on large scale, it becomes monotonous. It does not leave any space for you to explore and interpret – a good poetry always has this space.

2. Actually, it was an overdose of Bhakti for me. I appreciate Bhakti as a mood, as an emotion – but frankly speaking too much of it irritates and spoils me. Beyond certain limits, it shows weakness of human nature. Bhaktas always are asking something to God – either material or spiritual – but asking they are! My rational mind cannot value stories like Ajamila – by calling his son, he makes God feel that Ajamila remembered God. My God is not so foolish and is not craving for stupid calls from human beings. I believe God has better things to attend to.

3. There is nothing proud to be of being a woman or a man – it is a fact one has to live with. But the language Tukaram uses about women, did hurt me. Here is a guy, who with all his experience of Godhood is all the time using derogatory language about women. Tukaram’s portrayal, generalization of women is not at all acceptable. I know every person is product of her/his time and culture. But is not greatness all about ‘reaching beyond the boundaries’? Tukaram unfortunately has all the myths, misconceptions, stereotypes about women – which his society had. For example, if the son is not good enough the mother is called ‘rand’ i.e. prostitute – which is a derogatory term during his time. Why should the mother be guilty if her grown up son does not behave properly? Why the father is not similarly guilty of not bringing his son well?

4. Tukaram’s views on caste and hierarchy of the castes are also below par.

Hmm….. Better I stop writing this. I need to overcome this feeling of despondency. May be I should take a fresh guard, and without any bias read Tukaram again. I am sure he has a lot to teach me. Hope one day I will enjoy his poetry and get the feeling of oneness with the universe he calls Vitthala

Saturday, November 8, 2008

11. Wake Up Call

Getting up early has been a chronic problem for me. When I was at Kanyakumari, getting up at 4.30 in the morning was a BIG challenge – as generally that was the time I went to bed. Everyday I had to struggle to wake up early and sleep early. My biological clock works just the opposite – I am fresh at 2.00 in the morning and would love to be in the bed until 12.00 noon. Outwardly I was like a Sthitpradnya - when the world sleeps the Sthitpradnya is awake and when the world is awake, Sthitpradnya sleeps. … ‘’ya nisha sarva bhutanam, tasyam jagarti samyami, yasyam jagrati bhutani, sa nisha pashyato munehe’’…. ……. My Kanyakumari days took away that highly attained state from my life!!

On special days – I used to call it ‘Rock’ days – Oh! Nothing to do with Rock music and dance. On special days - they were called auspicious days and this word was used quite often at Kanyakumari – we used to visit Vivekananda Rock Memorial (Rock) very early in the morning. Ah! I still can feel the cool breeze, the beautiful smiling statue of Goddess Kanyakumari, the all encompassing blue sea-sky oneness, the music of rising waves, the calmness surrounding the world, the meditation hall ‘in’ the Rock … and of course the rousing statue of Vivekananda. On these occasions, I always thought that I was a special child of God …. I am sure each one of us thought so, and the next generation still feels so….. I was always excited to visit Rock early in the morning. It was different, it was very very special. I won’t mind another life as a human being to have those blissful moments!

Even today, if I have to do something ‘different’ – for example visiting a field area, climbing a mountain, watching birds, traveling, conducting a training, reading a book, searching a site on internet, writing a document, calling friends …. I wake up early without any ‘alarms’. I have only twice missed a train – once because I was enjoying dance of a peacock in Peshawe Park and second time because I was reading a book…. I do not need any alarms if I have to wake up early on such exciting days. But if there is nothing specific for the day, I feel sleepy and hungry and tired.

To wake up on time on any normal routine day, I need a wake up call. Since my mobile days, I am using mobile for wake up calls. Funnily enough, I have three different wake up calls set up in the mobile. My first wake up call is at 6.30. Except in winters, I open up all windows and doors at this time, and sleep again. The next wake up call is at 7.00. Generally I come out of bed and start doing routine work. If I have slept before 2.00 in the morning, I am fully ‘awakened’, otherwise I go to bed again at 8.00 – then wake up at 8.45, exercise for half an hour and then rush to office….

You see, here is a problem. For things extra-ordinary, I have enough enthusiasm and energy. However, for ordinary life, for routine work, I need wake up calls.

Unfortunately, most of the life is spent in ordinary tasks…. thus needing a constant ‘wake up call’….. The whole life is a wake up call…. if I listen to it properly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Every time I clean my office cabin or home, I am amazed at the volume of papers I tear away. I do not know where all these papers come from. We are supposed to be in the era of ‘paperless office’. I watched with open eyes to understand the cause of the problem.

We store everything on office hard disk. We are worried about the hard disk crash; we save everything on the pen drive. As pen drive is prone to virus, naturally we copy everything on the CD. We also send these files to ourselves (a couple of ‘id’s as the servers go down sometimes), in case the pen drive does not open, we can at least download it online. And who knows when the power cut would be there; - just to be on the safer side – we almost print everything that we type. Then we come home and copy day’s work in home PC or laptop.

Ridiculous, isn’t it? Mind you, most of it is very temporary stuff – nothing notable to be of so much obsession of copying. I too am a victim of this disease of SCP – Saving, Copying and Printing. No wonder, I spend lot of time in cleaning papers.

I am not the sole culprit in this creation of waste papers. There are colleagues and bosses who keep on sending papers to me – most of the stuff is what they don’t want for themselves! They will elegantly write ‘let us discuss’ or ‘you will find this interesting’ on it, but forget it conveniently unless I open the topic. Earlier I used to ‘discuss’ all these topics (and for that I had to read all the papers coming to my desk) proactively. Now I keep it – No, No, I never pass it on to others. In a way they delegate ‘paper cleaning’ task to me. The speed of incoming papers and my reading does not match. Whenever I have time to relax, I see the papers and start browsing them. It is wonder that I survive through pile of papers.

With the increased means of communication, the communication has not increased. We say the same thing through different media. People send an e-mail, SMS you that the message has been sent, call you to confirm that your received the SMS and then may be – again to be on the safer side – fax you the same matter. So, you end up getting the same message four times! And with multiple e-mail addresses, even God would be confused enough to save us.

Interestingly, I do not throw all the papers in the waste basket in the first round. Some, I feel are still important and I keep it in the corner – until the corner becomes too big to neglect. Shifting a problem is a strategy which fails over a time though it provides you temporary relief. In the next cleaning act, these lucky papers certainly go, but they get a lease of life for some time. Some papers I keep with the intention of using the ‘back side’ for printing. It hardly happens as we have a common printer in the office. By the time I reach the printer, my pages are already printed on a brand new A4 paper! You see, I have a problem of plenty though the plenty is nothing but ‘one side used papers’. A4 only.

And the chain of ‘saving and copying’ leads to another time consuming action – cleaning your PC. Either I am cleaning my office PC or home PC or papers from my trey. I also clean my mobile by deleting SMS. I am involved in cleaning my inbox – as many as three ids. Oops, and there is the ‘sent’ folder which needs cleaning too.

I can happily claim that I am regularly involved in Clean Act. In the process, I clean my brain too. I don’t remember anything at the end of the day. It is in a way, blessing …….

Saturday, November 1, 2008

9. Salute!

Every morning it happens and every morning it gives me a cause to smile.

I am at the present workplace for more than 8 years now. Till then I was always a wanderer, so this is a kind of change time has brought into my life. In the early days, I was reaching office by bus. Then for couple of years I stayed in the campus itself. Then five years ago, I shifted to my new home. It is just a 15 minutes walking distance. I love to walk and I do walk a lot.

For various reasons, I did not purchase a too wheeler for many years. First of all, my workplace is at a walk-able distance. Secondly I travel a lot – I am a kind of NRP – Non Resident Punekar – so did not need two wheeler. Third, I do not have the courage to travel in the interior of the city – the roads and the traffic confuses me.

There are couple of security persons at the office entrance. When I used to walk, sometimes I exchanged words with them. Nothing of much consequence, just a curtsey conversation.

Because I thought I was forgetting driving skill, I decided to have a two wheeler. One fine evening I purchased a two wheeler. First day I did not notice it. For a week I overlooked it. But it kept on happening.

Those security persons, who did not pay much attention to me, unless I spoke to them, started saluting when I entered the office gate. It was a salute indicating hierarchy. I was puzzled. Then I thought it must have been a ‘mistaken identity’ – they must be thinking me to be someone else. But no, I had shared pedhas of my two wheeler with cleaning persons and security persons too. So, they knew me. Funny, they never saluted me earlier, why are they doing it now? I do not like people saluting me – because I do not deserve to be saluted.

Then I realized. It is not what you are people are concerned about; it is always what you have. Every day they do not salute me, but they do salute the two wheeler –as if it adds value to my status, my existence.

Anyway, the security persons (and the world at large) do not take notice of me – they take notice of my possessions (i.e. achievements). It is very droll. I am not valued for what I am – but what I have and whether it is useful. When my qualities are needed, I am treated like a queen; when my qualities are not needed I am treated with indifference. This is the reality in the world and we have to live with this utilitarian world.

Then I remembered the story from ‘Chaturmas’ story book. A poor sister was never invited by her brother, always treated with contempt. Suddenly by worshiping some goddess she becomes rich. The brother now invites her to lunch – she exhibits and puts all her jewelry in front of the food, and tells her brother that she is aware that ‘he is feeding the gold and not her’. If anyone of you have this original story, do give me a copy. Now I can appreciate the depth of the story,

Yes, the world remains the same though times change!! That brings a smile to me. Every day.

I salute the world for what it is!