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WITHOUT WAX

the musings of a mellowed heart..

The impatient Indian

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen wrote about the argumentative tradition of Indians in his book The Argumentative Indian. He argued that, understanding of this tradition is critically important for understanding the success of Indian democracy, defence of its secular policies & removal of inequalities etc. Here, I would like to talk on the other facet, the impatient Indian.

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This impatience is glaring in the everyday chores and it is for public display. Just waiting at the traffic signal you will understand that for the Indian, three colours in a traffic signal is a waste of public money. There should have been only two, red & green or rather only one red; red on & red off. People are always ready without shutting of their engines or when red goes off they only see green. For some people even signal lights at all four junctions are not necessary; they always track the red light on their left side. Normally, we all are so generous that we even take seconds from our neighbours and just move even when it has turned red for us and green for our neighbours. We display the Japanese sense of value for time only at these junctions. Traffic signals are the most potential spots for all the accidents we consciously get into.

The next point of evidence is when finding a seat for a bus or train journey. Queue is a word that is alien to Indians; there is always a mob at the door of a train or a bus. I used to see a proper line in the beginning days of Bangalore Metro travels, but now, even there it is the same old mob culture is at display. Even if the train one is trying to catch is not a push pull train, there is always push & pull at the doors.

Here there is an Indian invention that I forgot to mention; it is on the spot seat booking system which happens to be the most advanced system in the world. There is no hard cash or digital transaction involved here. You just need your handkerchief, towel or a bag, book anything for that matter which you need to place it on the seat through the window and then you get all the right to put claims on that seat. Incredible indeed, isn’t it!

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The third point to put forward is on the mass gatherings at events like kumbh mela or any other such gatherings. The next day the newspapers are buzzing with the reports of people getting killed in a stampede on a hoax call of something bad happening. These are the stark realities on how impatience has become an intrinsic quality in our everyday lives.

There are more worrying  examples of impatience. Sharing, commenting, arguing, passing insults on the social media platform on even unconfirmed reports of news is the newfound face of Indian impatience.

Is impatience our tradition like the argumentative nature that Dr. Amartya Sen talks about? India has been patient enough to welcome all the religions in the world to find refuge in their times of oppression. India has been patient enough to walk the path of satyagraha, without even having an iota of idea on how successful it can be against the mighty & oppressive British empire under the leadership of a man whom the then British Prime Minister called, a ‘half-naked fakir’. Both our epic literatures, the Ramayana and Mahabharata teach us how the protagonists had to patiently walk through years of forest life as part of the tough circumstances they get into. India is the land of Buddha & Asoka who taught us the way to peaceful living for which patience is a precursor.

So, impatience wasn’t our tradition; we cultivated it somewhere down the line in the chase of a busy life. Impatience in the daily walks of life always inconveniences the other, puts one’s life at risk and spoils everyone’s peace of mind. So, patience is a lost habit that we must cultivate as part of our culture that we are going headstrong showcasing the world around us.

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Book review- ‘Devariddane! Eccharike!!’by Poornesh Mathavara

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It has been an eager wait for quite some time to get this book and read, the reason being the author Mr. Poornesh Mathavara, happened to be my senior during school days at the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Chikmagalur. It is his first book, a collection of stories in kannada, published in various magazines & newspapers.

The book of 83 pages and 13 stories, at the end of which, I had a kind of lingering appreciation on this maiden venture. It is a beautiful read, especially for the ones who hail from the malnad region. Though in outlook it seems to be just pages out of an author’s travelogue, it is lot more than just that. It has humour; it mirrors the exploitation that gets veiled beneath the shadow of plantations that which act as the very source of revenue & employment in the region. The book uses satire to mock the deep rooted caste practices that are still exhibited with its own pomp & gaiety to alien, rule & subjugate the poor labour class in these plantations. The book debates & introspects in itself the very nature of exploitation that which led to the rebellion of the labour class in the form of naxalism & the awkward spread of its pangs & toils. It also sheds humorous light on the corruption at the grass root level of administration and the farce democratic exercises.

 Overall, the book mirrors the divided, discriminative, unfair society that is still out there in the places from where we were fortunate to jump out because of a better chance of education that we got and which they didn’t. So, it touches your heart by reminding you that there is something that is expected out of you to better the lives of thousands out there who are still reeling under the age old problems.

The author dedicates the book to the very same exploited, underpaid labourers who sweat & toil for long hours every day with a distant dream of a good life. When the dream still proves to be just dream for very long time, they become slaves of cheap liquor and domestic violence. The author in his thanksgiving remembers his kannada teacher to have instilled the love of literature in his heart which seems to me the best way of thanksgiving to a teacher!

 I liked the prose, language and the many aspects of depiction of everyday events in a subtle manner. The book looks to be an advance to the great works that is expected to come out of the author’s pen in the coming years!

Morning by the lake..

The orange Sun was

Peeling off by himself

The cattle egret perched

On the edge of a lifeless branch

Opened her wings

As a cheerful gesture to his first rays

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The first rays, the front runners

In the majesties cavalcade

Lit up the dark and the

Flow less & the flawless waters

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The just awake lake

Was breathing smoky white

While the thirsty cold winds

Stole up the surface droplets

The tiny dews too sleepy to fall off

Rolled up into a misty net

 

The black & beautiful darter

Dressed herself on the go

In her queen size shiny mirrors

But the blue kingfisher

Just meant business from the first go

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The breathtaking calmness

Prevailed on the vast serene waters

Promising a great day

Only to those who risked those early chills

And that last bit of lazy sleep

The ironies of India

The world’s cheapest Mars mission

Mangalyaan, is our greatest leap

Yet the tantric lemon lies untouched

On the crossroads

Our cheapest way  

To ward off the biggest evils!

 

India, the oldest living history

Slogs between two worlds

One racing to be the one

Among the developed

Another willingly living in muck

Of ignorance & blind faith

 

The names differ

Mathamma, Basivi, Saani, Parvathi

Offered to ‘God’ at four

A girl child, is a public property

Devadasi, still part of ‘our culture’

Are we sure

That ‘sati’ is no more?

 

Striking down triple talaq

Polygamy, Nikah Halala

Under the scanner

Reforms in Islam

Is a welcome

But the question

That may not strike a right chord

Is the need of reforms

Restricted only to Islam?

 

Raise a question on casteism

The strong root of ‘cultural’ practices

Devadasi, manual scavenging

And the hundred hidden ones

Bringing them to light

In itself is a service to the society

 

I laugh at the ignorance

For grandparents of day before yesterday

Caste was their achievement of life

I pity the parents of yesterday

Caste was their route to a better opportunity

But I am ashamed of today’s young

Caste is still attached to their names

 

Hanging on to a caste

Isn’t a symbol of one’s weakness?

Let’s stand up on our own

Not on the one that we never earned

 

If education has failed

To destroy the ignorance

God save the Nation of today

And our children of Tomorrow

It’s bliss

‘The words’ store

Put it on display

‘Out of stock!’

 

As I struggled

To put it on

White and black

 

It is bliss

With you around

Couldn’t ask for more

 

Your not so soft hands

Moves around

At an architect’s precision

 

Setting into order

Creating walls of visuals

Bringing life into a shade of green

 

I know it’s just a beginning

There is more to come

But my struggle is here to stay

To put it back on stock

At ‘The words’ store

 

To bump into the right one

May be

All it needs is to

Carefully cross the wrong ones!

Blood on our hands!

I had never read Gauri Lankesh, never knew who M M Kalburgi or Narendra Dabolkar or Govinda Pansare were. Yet, the bone chilling cold blooded murders of these intellectuals pose a grave perception on how as a society the country is sliding fast into a conundrum of chaos & mayhem. With a dream of Digital India on one side, the easy access to internet is shedding its fair skin to reveal the darker layer lying underneath. With an open access to every Tom, Dick & Harry to get his opinion published on an open platform, it is being used to strengthen some dangerous ideologies which finally show up with one such barbarous act of silencing a pen through a gun!

A five minutes reading into the comments to a breaking news on the unregulated social media puts your head in a tizzy. The explosion of uncontrolled expressions on twitter & facebook handles looks nothing less than a virtual war with lots of heat & sound. There is limited space for constructive discussion and unlimited space for trolling, name calling, body shaming, spitting venom, character assassination, taking sides, bringing party politics etc etc. This is insane and when reason vanishes in between an argument, it looks nothing better than two dogs barking at each other. It’s time to stop such shameful behaviour.

In a society, everyone from the lowest strata to the highest is responsible for his behaviour as each ones action contributes to the overall essence of the society. Just spending five minutes to google it out to understand the subject and read some variety of opinion before making a personal opinion public must be the responsibility of every individual.

The world at present is already at a tipping point over ideologies waiting to explode at any moment. Mine and your every expression may be adding fuel to that fire. So, when there is such a heinous act of killing over an ideology that got strengthened over a process of our every day expressions, may be the blood is on our hands too!

Blindly following some ideologies is doing great damage to the society. Even emperor Ashoka the Great didn’t blindly follow a religion like Buddhism. Though he was influenced by Buddhist thoughts, he carved out a dhamma between his spiritual longings and his sense of public responsibility.  So, everyone needs to carve out his own understanding between the ideologies one is subjected to. Just taking sides of a party or an organisation or an ideology on every good or bad thing will not help root out the bad elements that has crept into it and is disastrous to a progressive and dreams of an egalitarian society.

We are the citizens of a great nation with unique values preserved from a history of thousands of years and imbibed permanently in our Constitution. We are brothers and sisters living side by side cherishing the idea of ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ from the Maha Upanishad, which means “the world is one family”. There can be difference of opinion within us and we can definitely be argumentative over such differences but we don’t kill our own brothers and sisters. Now instead of condemning such a gruesome act, if there are celebratory tweets, character assassinations, may be the ground is already set for the next cold blooded murder!

A life is precious and it is blood on our hands too! So, express yourself freely but most importantly, responsibly!

Stories for a life : http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/stories-for-a-life/article18061732.ece

Being fair to the women in our lives

It is a well known saying that men are from Mars & women are from Venus! Yes, men & women differ a lot; physically, biologically & psychologically. Understanding of these differences in itself can help solve many of the gender based issues that have been prevailing in our society since ages.

The crux of the differences between a man & a woman is that women can attain motherhood by giving birth to a child which the man cannot. Her physical differences are a part of being equipped to sustain motherhood.  Biologically she undergoes the cycle of menstruation which is a part of preparation for motherhood. Psychological differences are connected with the physical & biological changes she undergoes en route to her motherhood that comes with feeding & caring for the child which is totally dependent on her.

A woman in her lifetime undergoes this additional burden of motherhood but the society has not been fair to her at all. A society bugged by misogyny, for centuries women have been subjected to inhuman practices, taboos & biases. Pushed into a corner, suppressed under the name of tradition, culture & customary laws, she has silently endured all the pain & agony of being women.

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Amidst all this, women have come out of their cocoon & have proved that they can excel in every field which the men have held as their bastion for far too long. I think it is high time that we as men did penance for all the injustice & discrimination meted out to our own women. It is time that we did away with the taboos one by one to allow women to live & breathe freely & openly than being pressed & stigmatized by the religious & socio-cultural dogmas.

Menstrual taboo may not be only limited to India, but in 21st century it still stigmatizes the menstruating women as impure. In an era of science & technology why do on earth we still are carrying on with such taboos when menstruation is an important part of the process of creation, the reason for my and your existence. How can that be impure in the first place? In a culture where the first cycle of menstruation is celebrated, isn’t it an irony that the next cycles turn out to be impure.

The shame & apathy related to menstruation has caused lot of damages. It has resulted in a large percentage of girls dropping out of school lacking safe & sanitary facilities. It has prevented parents & teachers from educating the boys and girls regarding the process of menstruation and managing hygiene. It has created lot of inferiority complexes within the minds of women being kept aloof, not allowed to pray, eat and be present in family gatherings. It has led women to endure that uncomfortable feeling, excruciating pain & cramps and still work in offices, colleges, and industries as if everything is as usual and very normal. These women are not really form Venus. They are our own mothers, sisters, friends & companions.

In an era where there are cloud bursts & avalanches of information, it is not fair to pose ignorance and let our own women down to endure the pain, and shame anymore. It is time we discussed & educated about the menstrual cycle as normally as it exactly is. It is time we thought how we start correcting ourselves.

I think Women’s Day is a great way to celebrate the women in our lives. What can be a better gift on the day for the love & color they bring into our lives than in initiating a debate, a consensus for a menstruation day leave- in our institutions & in our work places- letting our women rest for a day from an uncomfortable day of work enduring the pain associated with it.  A menstruation day leave could be a big step towards creation of a pragmatic society which cares & corrects itself from the all the dents inflicted on it from time to time.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful”, a quote out of Malala Yousafzai, the gritty girl who showed the world that a voice can’t even be silenced by the sound of a gun is a message to all women who need to raise a voice and speak for themselves, for the rights that rightly belongs to them.

 

without wax

Ash

 

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Those-summers-to-remember/article17297841.ece#comments

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