Archive for February, 2011

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must

‘She walks in beauty like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies’. Right now ‘SHE’ is immaterial. What matters is the pre-dawn sky. I opened the window to have a look at the sky, hoping against hope that it would be spotless. Yes, it was clear or rather spotless; but not blue as such. Anyway, there was a clear indication that the day would be bright and sunny. The poets and philosophers of yore had recorded their thoughts and experiences in beautiful and simple words which flash across our minds now and then! Then words, ‘appearances are deceptive’ suddenly landed on the surface of my mind, prompting me to have one more look at the sky. But, where is the sky? Nothing was visible beyond the window. Spotless sky had become foggy. The top of a distant skyscraper was slightly visible but that too disappeared in a jiffy.
So, I was getting ready for another dull day. Breakfast, TV serials, cups of coffee at regular intervals and so on. But the hide and seek game was not yet over. In an hour or so, it was warm and bright. The snow-clad meadows and sidewalks regained their original colors!

Honest to the core?

Though I prefer train to bus or car, I avoid journey by train these days mainly because of the tough spade work required for booking a berth. Weeks before your journey, you have to get your seat reserved and that too by standing in a long queue. At times, when your turn comes, the clerk at the ticket counter would say, “you are in the waiting list”. That means your chances are 50-50!

In the good old days all you had to do was to arrive at the station 10 to 15 minutes before the departure time and get into any compartment. The journey won’t be monotonous, for the passengers could either listen to some serious discussions or enjoy watching the fast-moving ‘world’ outside….the rivers, paddy fields or some rural games.

A couple of years ago, I did have an opportunity to travel in an unreserved compartment. Fortunately, it was not crowded and I could occupy a window seat. A middle-aged person, newspaper in hand, was giving his views about certain important news items. “These politicians are very clever. Just when the officials concerned are getting ready to expose the ones involved in a corruption charge, the affected person or party would rake up an old and closed chapter to divert people’s attention. Let us forget the politicians. We the people should set an example. We should be honest to the core..” Just when he was waxing eloquent on this principle, the ticket examiner entered the scene, the travelers except the middle aged person took out their tickets. The examiner had a look at the tickets and returned them to the respective travelers. He was about to leave but the ‘principled’ person called the examiner and told him, “I am ticket-less. Collect the money including fine”. I was a bit surprised…so were the other passengers.

A (pictoral) ode to Saint Valentine

Ode to Saint Valentine

Of cats and dogs

An unleashed, fearsome and ‘well-dressed’ dog growled at a person who was on his way to a shopping mall. While trying to evade a possible attack by the dog, he stared at the owner of the dog. But, instead of apologizing to that person, the owner shouted at him, “he is a baby…get lost”. In India, we are quite used to stray dogs, stray cats etc. but here in Vancouver dogs and cats are like pampered kids [The kids, of course, do not get that much attention!] It seems they humanize these animals right from their childhood—they seem to spend a lot on clothes for dogs. Naturally, they are not brought up as ‘watch dogs’ as we do in India. They do bark but sounds like the cries of the babies to the owners and immediately they are hugged and kissed! Quite often we see papers carrying the picture of a dog or a cat stuck on pillars or electric posts. The purpose is to inform the public about a lost cat or a dog and also to request them to contact the said owners if they happen to find the lost animal!

Those rare moments

I have my limitations. You folks cannot eat the cake and have it too. I am not a 24×7 channel who could be at your service whenever you press the button. I have to give way to mist, snow and rain when you people feel the pinch as a result of my prolonged presence. The accompanying wind? So, that is your problem. Can’t help… they are interrelated. By the way, I’ll be off in a jiffy. Your warm clothes are meant for wearing ; not for dumping in your show cases. Once you are well protected, it is only a question of your attitude, rain or shine. In a place like Vancouver you can always rely on those immortal lines: If winter comes, can spring be far behind?; but in a place like India, it is slightly different… it is something like this: if summer comes; monsoon won’t be far behind; beware! Heard of “There was a roaring in the wind and the rain came heavily and fell in floods”?
The soliloquy over, the sun disappeared, leaving behind a streak of red and orange… the rest of the sky was dull and dusky. People went inside to have a quick glance at the weather chart!

Wanted: A new approach

Unrest here, unrest there; from time immemorial it has been so and it will be so, as long as trouble makers outweigh trouble shooters. If a country is democratic, it has to abide by a plethora of freedoms which often result in utter chaos and confusions. Parliament and state assemblies witness ‘sit in strikes’ ‘walk outs’ allegations and what not. But, in spite of these negative qualities, democracy is the best form of government because the wind of freedom blows away any tendency to suppress the rights of the people. [Freedom should not degenerate into license].

Then, we have the so-called democracies which have all the ingredients of democracy but are at the mercy of fundamentalists who poke their noses into the lifestyles of men and women. They fully exploit the inventions of science and technology but would not permit the youngsters to join the mainstream.

The countries which are under dictatorship may appear to be free from any troubles but the invisible anger and dissatisfaction of the people could erupt any time. Benevolent despotism could be much better in such countries.

The real threat to universal peace comes from some youngsters the world over who are under the influence of political extremists who cash in on poverty. The only solution to these problems lies in the hands of UNO and other international organizations; and the focus should be on value based education. Efforts must be made to develop aesthetic sense in children and also love and affection for fellow beings even as they are enabled to keep pace with science and technology.

Metamorphosis!

It was an auspicious morning. The temple looked bright and serene. The devotees were patiently waiting for their turn to have a darshan of the lord… I was one among them and there were only five or six people ahead of me. I looked around to see whether there were any known faces. There was none at that time but just when I was leaving the temple, I was a bit surprised to see an old friend of mine. He was sitting in a corner, singing a devotional song. It was almost a decade since I saw him last but I was not in a mood to renew my friendship with him mainly because his favorite topics were not to my liking. Moreover, I was craving for a cup of coffee.

There was only one restaurant near the temple but it was yet to open. So, I got into a petty tea shop and ordered a cup of tea. “One for me too!”, I heard a familiar voice. Yes, it was my old friend’s. “I saw you at the temple but you were in a hurry to leave… old habits die hard…”, said he with a smile. The monologue began, with me responding with “oh! Um, wow” and so on.

He kept on talking about various temples and his frequent visits to those famous temples and also about his donations. It seemed he was doing some business and making money. As he was waxing eloquent about religion and temples, I tried to provoke him by criticizing trade unionism and certain leftist leaders but to my surprise he said, “Absolutely… these lazy fellows are greedy. Even if you give them ten times as much as they get now, they won’t be satisfied. Their party is in power in a couple of states and you know they are the most backward in India…” He stopped abruptly and said, “ok, I must leave now”.

In this connection I must tell you an interesting fact. This chap was an atheist and a staunch supporter of the leftists. On top of this, he was a trade union leader who was working in a public sector company which was unable to withstand the pressure of trade unionists who kept on demanding for more! And he was their leader!

Our glamour boys, now in the waiting list!

Till the other day there were just five or six of them. All, good looking, and city based with thousands of fans who won’t leave any stones unturned to make their heroes invincible even if they fail to live upto expectations, at times. Appearing mostly in action packed movies, these heroes seem to possess supernatural powers when they fight. When they are riding a motorbike or driving a car, they would overtake the vehicles they chase even if they are miles ahead [at times the vehicles of the heroes take the aerial route!]Then comes the romantic scenes when they swing and dance with dames who capture the attention of the young and the old alike. Even if the movie is not as interesting as expected, certain spell-binding songs make up the lacunae.

Thus far and no further! A new trend is reigning supreme now. The city-based heroes are now in the waiting list! And so are the action packed movies. There are new faces galore; ordinary looking youngsters are making a bee-line to get an entry into the ‘old’ world. Everything happens in some remote villages and in accordance with the rules and regulations of the rural areas. Of course, there are songs and fights but no supernatural performances. People seem to enjoy this new trend. How long will this trend continue? Will the former heroes stage a comeback? Let us wait and see!