Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Looking back, as a child...

Children are the faces of the next generation. In their shining eyes and innocent thoughts, lies intertwined, the future, our tomorrow and the world`s history. Now that I realize this, I often wonder whether what I thought and did as a child has ever been a testament to this statement. Perhaps not. I have been tagged by Alex, yet again to write about the things I liked and disliked about my childhood. After knowing what it was about and reading his post, I could not help feeling obliged to do the same.

Things, I liked about my childhood

* The bird`s eye view from the apartment window – Strange isn`t it.? But yes, much of my childhood I spent in an apartment on the second floor. I did not have many friends other than those at school and life was at times lonely too. What really used to bring colour into those dull days were the panoramic view of the world below from that window through which I looked at the slums below, the children flying kites, in a ground opposite the house, the temple festivities, the bullocks which were cleaned and bathed daily. At times there used to come a street circus group or a catfight used to erupt between the women for the water from the tap. The papers or plastic covers I used to tie to a string and let fly through the window, my own version of a poor man`s kite. I can never forget those days and that long window.

* The frequent trips to nearby temples with my family. The sheer joy in running around those dark deities, praying for nothing in particular and yet feeling entirely purified of soul. The few minutes spent in the park near the temple upon a swing, or a see-saw, the anxious wait to grab the prasadam or offering and race back home on the roads with my sister.

* The occasional outing, with our father to the Beasant Nagar Beach in chennai to wade in those waters, collect shells and come home proudly and proclaim that I had a new hobby, Shell Collection!. However those shells took only a few days to lose. The packet of Maggi Noodles on the way back home, was another treat which was greatly desired.

* Those days when it rained heavily in the morning and the school closed due to rains. Those were moments of sheer ecstasy, the eagerness to look at the rain, to drink hot tea and read some stories looking at the rain used to be at it`s heights. However rain used to stop quickly and days were usual in a very short while.

* Those wonderful summer vacations and the journey to Kerala, the “pazhampori”, from the railway station, the magnificent sights outside the window, the mere presence of being on a train, where we slept and ate together. Those moments of going out with my grandfather, meeting my uncles, cousins, all have been and will remain the most vibrant and colourful memories of my life.

* Again I guess people of my age are among the most fortunate, because we are of a generation where we learnt the brilliant Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharatha, on television every Sunday. Sunday Television was considered a god-given gift. Today however I am surprised at myself how quickly each television channel can bore me.

* Those days in school, when we drowsily listened to the english teacher reading out from those beautiful lessons, which took me to another world. A world I was not aware of, a world I had not seen yet.

Things, I disliked about my childhood.

It is not easy to compile such a list, because looking back now every single moment of my childhood seems priceless to me. They seem to be much simpler, and a much easier life, now when I look back. However as a child there were the sadder moments, things which I did not like then.

* Our school used to start at 7:50 am in the morning and go on till 2 pm in the afternoon. Therefore we always had to wake up early at 6 `o clock, something I really detested. Every day used to be a struggle, every day there used to be complaining and whining. I remember looking on jealously, while my sister acted like she`s sick and took a day off from school.

* The trips back to home, back to school after the summer vacations. These were mostly sad forlorn journeys. There used to be the sadness of parting from everyone at my native place. Added to that there was this fear of getting the exam paper results when schools reopened. I never got good marks.

* The wait until evening on the day, I receive my report card, to get it signed from my father. A most agonizing period of time, when everytime, I used to make resolutions to get better marks next time. It never worked..

* Those experiences of being ignored or neglected just because I was a child. I have had trouble getting change from a shopkeeper. Fights with bus conductors and what not. It has been a tough life even back then.

Those are all, I can think of as of now, but I am overall more than satisfied with my childhood and also today understand that many children have not had even these little happy moments, which I have most happily cherished and enjoyed.

I end this post, now with a prayer on my lips that all children should always have a smile on their faces. May they never go hungry, orphaned or sad.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rivers, where are thou..?

Realization is a great gift, but in the case of mankind, it sadly often comes late. Recently there has been much of hype and hoopla about the Ganga Action Plan, to clean the ganges river, to help rescue the species of dolphins in this mighty river and so on. As the activity progressed, and the media digged further, there started appearing stories of how funds have been misappropriated, rampant tales of corruption and more stories we are used to, daily.

The sadness of the whole situation lies in the fact that in this case we are actually talking about one of the most important resources, any country needs. The water, the rivers, they are the elixir of life and life revolves around this element of nature with shameless dependence. Yet, here we are at crossroads, at a juncture in history, when there is no proper usable water, in spite of having numerous rivers all over the country. The Ganga, Yamuna, Cauvery, Indus, Brahmaputra, all mighty rivers have their own stories of disputes, pollution to tell. These mighty rivers which we likened to Godesses, are today slowly dying, they are slowly fading away.

When we travel across the country, one very common sight we would come across, is the lack of water in the rivers. One factor, could be the population, another could be misuse, but the fact remains that unless stringent steps are taken we will lose our rivers one day. It is a known fact that all civilizations in history grew up around a river, be it the Nile, or the Indus, or any water source for that matter. An Ecosystem is created basically from a water source and that is the law of nature. So when we indifferently allow industries to throw off their toxic waste into the rivers, we can rest assured that the next generation will not have a long lifeline.

Today, I have to spend thirty rupees to buy myself twenty litres of clean drinking water. I languish often about the fact that when I visit my native place in Kerala, which is yet very remote, I drink freely from the big well, and that water is much sweeter. The Ganges is one beautiful river which in it`s origin is crystal clear and admirably pure, at the Gangotri Glacier. Yet as this amazing river continues it`s journey to the sea, providing life and fertility to the millions and the country`s soil, it is being subjected to great humiliation in the form of pollution, unreasonable obstacles and pure filth. When Ganga Devi, meets the King of the Ocean, it is a tear filled embrace, one of great anguish and trauma.

Then of course there is the Narmada over which there has been so much of controversy, that today the common Indian citizen is at a dilemma as to which side to take. Is it the water for one hungry group of people which is important or is it the plight of those rendered homeless, if the water is provided.

Then again we have the Cauvery dispute between the states of TamilNadu, Karnataka and Kerala, where all need water. We have spent decades fighting over our water and river resources and in all this time, we never bothered to actually look at the rivers, and sympathize with it`s condition. By the time, we resolve our issues, and settle, the water in these once pure, beautiful rivers, would either have dried up or would have become untouchable poison.

In the Malabar area of Kerala, there is this great Bharathapuzha river, which is fondly remembered for it`s scenic beauty and pristine water. Today in the summer season, there is no water at all, it is a long stretch of soft sand with small pools here and there, where water has got collected after the trucks came, pulled away the sand and sped away. It shockingly reminds me, that the future of the country is similarly on a road which is potholed thus.

It is time to awaken to do good, than to ignore because then centuries later our parched throats would struggle to ask "Oh!, Mighty Rivers, Where are thou ?"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lazy Railway Musings.

Travelling in trains, has always been somehow so emotionally and psychologically nourishing to my mind, that I prefer to travel by a train, more than by flight or by a bus. In a bus there are several disadvantages, like it is more strenuous, and you just dont have an happy way of answering nature`s calls, and it also doesn`t help that I easily vomit. I have never travelled through air as of now, but to admit the truth, I am quite scared about it. Before you start to laugh at me, let me tell you, I am truly happy going by train, and that`s what matters, because travelling is also a pastime I like, which it wouldn`t be if I do not enjoy it.
I recently travelled on a train to my home and I couldn`t help reminiscing about all those journeys I had made as a child for the summer vacations to Kerala, and the sad journeys back home to school. Those have been prominent memories completely etched in my mind that I easily get nostalgic at the sight of a train. Perhaps I should save this part for a tag I have to complete, but the most important thing is that I like this concept of a journey and like to have a metaphorical outlook as I see Life as it is in all journeys, more so when the journey is on a train.
As the train slowly moves, I see a train going in the opposite direction, and both trains seem to be slow enough to give us a good view of the people in the other train. I look at them through the window, and they look back at me. They are different, they have a different life, and yet for those few moments, we look at each other, wondering what the other person is thinking, with genuine interest to know and learn of their stories, their struggles. There is a sudden passion, which fills my veins as I try to craft stories of their lives with my otherwise lazy imagination. This is such a common happening and yet it is so similar to Life as such. The trains are like any two people, whose paths may criss-cross, they will share and care, but they will have to eventually separate because their destinations might not be the same. The temporary glimpse at each other`s lives is filled with a happiness that resonates in both of their souls and the painful parting with a memory treasured or despised and yet with a tranquil sadness of heart.
The train keeps moving slowly and I look outside and then see lots of vehicles and people waiting at a signal, with a look of restlessness, waiting for the train to pass as soon as possible. Our lives in itself seem so free flowing to us at times, and yet we fail to realize that we may be unknowingly causing a temporary delay for many others who are following their aspirations and dreams with equal passion. They may not be visible to us, but they are there and the quicker we move on, the easier we make it for these people to continue their lives meaningfully.
I continue my journey and look at the people sitting beside me. They all have been looking at me gloomily dreaming with eyes wide open and as I look at them, they look elsewhere, while a smile crosses my lips and they relax. "Where are you going to ?", asks the person next to me, and then it continued, a long conversation starting about his married life up to American Politics. As we break for dinner, I wonder where it all started and realize that we both have a common destination, and that we therefore strike a chord unconsciously. I immediately think about friends who bond like none other, because they have common dreams, common interests, or even if they don`t have these things in common, they have a striking similarity in their mindset as to where they are headed.
The train finally pulls in to the station and I get down and walk along the platform while a few of my co-travellers get down and wait to see a familiar face. The destination seems to be the same for all, but what we expect when we reach it ultimately is different and unique for each one of us. We do not know what, but we are travelling and we will discover when we reach.
As I walk and then look back at the train, I feel i`ve learnt a lot of lessons, but they might not be right, there may be more to learn, and life is not understood from just one compartment. The journey never seems to end.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Know, Break and Rejoice.

Law is a very interesting subject, especially in the Indian Subcontinent, mainly because this is the place where one can experiment all they want, use all articles known, so many courts, so many means of dispersing justice or transfer and delay justice to some other court. The number of gimmicks we have seen in the name of Law and Justice is still growing and it`s not justice, just money and entertainment.!

I found this article the most funniest and yet the most thought provoking. It says that most of the politicians in Bihar have criminal records and almost all of them have degrees in Law!. Isn`t that just hilarious. ? You learn law, get to know all it`s loopholes, come out, break it, and rest assured because you just know to escape from it now. As simple as that.!

Then there is this famous case, where a guy shoots a girl, escapes from a court, litigation again starts due to public unrest and finally there comes this leading lawyer of the country, who tells a whole new story and claims he will bring out the truth. It may be a matter of procedure over principle as, Uma claims. But then what about the lawyer`s conscience as a human being? Are we really able to trust our lawyers and the judiciary in dispensing justice. If so, then why is there so much of unrest. Why is it that cases are taken to the Supreme courts and the decisions reversed.? What if the lower court made a mistake in the judgement and yet the case could not be taken to the supreme court, because those involved dont have the required financial capabilities or influence?.

I don`t have the answers, but really need to know.

Friday, November 03, 2006

An Interrogation - Bound and (T)agged!

It was raining and I was just strolling around the pavement, looking at all the people around me, taking in some fresh air. Night had descended and there was a sense of eeriness all around. I reached the town hall and looked at the old building. On it`s old yellow board in front of the building were scrawled in proud red letters, the words "The Town Hall of the Blogosphere".

I smiled, and moved on. As I turned around the corner, I was tapped on my shoulder. With a sense of fear and anticipation, I turned back, but was immediately pushed against the black brick wall. There were two of them. One I identified as the Activist and another as the Philosopher. They dragged me up to a tall black tower, and told me that they would now perform the ceremony. I was shivering with fear and cold. They then started to recite the blogger`s chant and after a gruelling hour, they turned towards me with an axe like weapon in their hands. They told me, it was now time for the interrogation. I numbly nodded my head. They said they would ask the cursed 13 questions and then I was free to go. Now there.. this sudden glimmer of hope seemed to sustain me and I sat upright.
"Ahem..", remarked the activist. He and the philosopher clapped hands. "The first question!", they jointly thundered.
1. Are you happy/satisfied with your blog, with its content and look? Does your family know about your blog?
Yes, I am, The blog has been a great source of rejuvenation and has also helped me make several friends. I am not good at designing a template, but compensate for that by posting more pictures. My family knows about my blog and they are pretty much happy about it.
"Not bad", remarked the philosopher. " Now tell me Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?
I am not embarrassed by my blog. Lot of friends do tease me about it, but never has it really embarrassed me, atleast so far.
Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?
Yes, I started concentrating more on my writing style and also in a way increased my love for nature and the world. I am very thankful for that.
Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?
I do both. Discovering makes me very happy, I generally use blogrolls to go around. The activist, seemed to be sharpening his weapon.. I shuddered.!
What does visitors counter mean to you? Do you care about putting it in your blog?
Visitors counter is like a morale booster for me. I use it to make myself happy. I also visit my own blog a number of times, so I might be cheating there. The philosopher glared at me with menacing eyes. I bowed my head down.
Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?
I imagine a lot! I think about all of them, whosoever do not have a profile pic of their own. I like it when there is this anonymity, leaving much to imagination.
Admit. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?
The activist, seemed to be getting impatient!. Yes there is, I muttered. For the many lone free thinkers out there, blogging is a kind of genuine freedom, where for once they can just allow their minds to wander and pen their thoughts, without any hindrance. That is why I also support freedom of speech for bloggers whole heartedly.
Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?
In a way, yes it is! A blogger`s society is an idealistic society where everyone is honest, about their thoughts, deeds and actions. Everyone has genuine concern for the others in this society. There is no hardship, killing or poverty, and people without basic needs never become bloggers, so we never know. Yes the ways of the world and trials of the people cast a great influence on the blogger society and vice versa.
Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it’s a normal thing?
Criticism, is something I like. I like it when it is constructive and helps me improve my thinking and writing. I however abhor people who are not frank about it and post anonymous rude comments.
Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?
No! I dont fear them. However i have not yet been to any political blog, anything which has remotely made me afraid or intimidated of them. Because be it whatever political outfit, I believe i have a lot of questions for them, which they will find hard to answer.
Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?
Both of them seemed to be getting angrier and I was sort of thrown back at this question. I will be shocked if they are arrested just for blogging like I do. But if they are being arrested for using blogging to bring upon harm and unrest, then NO!, please arrest them and do what is necessary. I am not going to get shocked!. The philosopher seemed to almost let out a smile. I heaved a sigh!
Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?
Oh! No.. Was this what he was smiling about?, I wondered. I have an understanding with my friends and family members that they should let all my blogger friends know about my death in case it happens! They were still frowning. Oh! God, please help me.
What do you like to hear? What’s the song you might like to put a link to in your blog?
"A funeral song..!", I thought to myself. "What is it!", screamed both of them.
I would like to put a link to "It`s My Life", by Bon Jovi on my blog, My favourites would be classical songs, with a lot of veena or violin thrown in. They really soothe me.
"Are you pleading for life ?", asked the activist. "Yes, I am", I replied with a pale face and cold hands.. They looked at each other and mightily laughed. Your time is done, my son. You may leave now, they said. I thanked god and clambered down the tower and ran home in the rain. At the top of the tower, I could still see two men laughing aloud!