Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A ghost has left me in the lurch!

There's been a host of spooky stories doing the rounds of late. Such as cooking range turning on by itself, headless bodies floating around, figures sitting on sofas in living rooms, kids' defunct toys functioning and so on...

I've heard several such first-hand and retold-accounts over the years [below are a selected few], and have duly ignored all of them. But for the latest one. I'm still reeling under its effect.


1. A family in Allahabad would hear the sound of a woman's anklets  everyday precisely around midnight. The sound would enter the house from the garden and walk off into the courtyard and disappear. The
narrator, who told me this, one night questioned his aunt about the sound. She, inturn, casually said. "Remember the bhabi who passed away a few years back. She comes to check on us. In fact, I keep water in the courtyard for her every night. Haven't you seen?"

2. While on the topic of water...my maternal grandmom doesn't have breakfast without offering the plate of eateries, including glass of tea, to her son who left her almost two decades back. She says the
'offered tea' is tasteless, sans sugar, when she drinks as her son has had it.

3. My editor told me of his father visiting him while he was fast asleep one night. On hearing someone enter his pitch-dark bedroom, he reached for the switch, only to see "dad in his trademark headgear and
payjama" sitting crouched beside him on the bed, "looking worried". The old man requested his son to get married, who in turn had to assure him he was capable of taking care of himself and pleaded with him - "please go back to where you have come from and rest in peace".

4. My senior said how he waited anxiously to check out a silhouetted figure of a woman in a burqa pass by the corridor. Every evening, around the  same time, if he sat with the front door open he would see
the woman walk across. But all his attempts of taking a closer look was in vain. The moment he ran out to pursue her she would vanish.

5. Another incident in the same building relates to three headless bodies suspended in air hanging out near the balcony that leads to his bedroom. These 'objects' made an appearance quite late at around 2am at night. When the narrator stepped out into the balcony one night, these 'objects' started to come nearer to the wall. Apparently, they had no distinctive features, yet they resembled human heads. He told aloud: "My God protects me. Don't enter my home. Whatever it is you'll want to do, it should be outside the walls of my home." And he saw the 'objects' slowly float away.

6. A man was knocked down in a north India state after peeing on a cemetary. The blow was so bad that it took him almost a month to walk unaided. This guy, a non-believer, to prove his people wrong went to
the place a few days later and did the act again. This time not only was he knocked down unconscious but on regaining his senses, the hitherto desi guy spoke only French. It is believed the tombstone belonged to a very distinguished and learned man from the days of the British rule in India. "He felt insulted."

Well, it's up to each reader if you want to believe in jinns and ghosts and spirits or not. I guess the effect defines beliefs. If the experiences affect you [in some way, positive or negative] then they become incidents else they remain stories...

But one such tale has left in the lurch...

Househelp saga

"My husband hits me. He pulls my hair and throws things at me. He refuses to eat what I cook. I can't lift my arm..." These are excuses my househelp gave me last week minutes before she announced, "I cannot
come from tomorrow."

I'm no elitist. Trust me. But cannot fathom how domestic help across boundaries cite similar problems to switch jobs!

"So what's your salary expectation," I ask. And there she begins singing my praises. It was an impromtu act, else I would have recorded it to bargain with her successor. "You are the best madam, I've worked for. You gave me more than what anyone has ever given me..."

I didn't hear the rest as I was zeroing in on friends who could give me househelp contacts.

Well, the long and short of her announcement is ever since she moved into her one-room sharing accommodation a year back, she's had no peace of mind. Because years ago a woman was murdered by her man in that particular room. Since then, couples renting the room have been fighting with each other, told neighbours. So she's found a safe place on the outskirts of the town and cannot commute everyday to help me out.

So much for the ghost who hates families...I'm left in the lurch!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Let there be more Doom's Day prophecies

At last Nostradamus seems to have got a break!

In the recent past Mayan followers have been warning mankind about the world coming to an end next year, but now certain independent Christian groups have joined in the apocalyptic predictions. They are ranting about the ultimate day being even closer - May 21, 2011 - a little over a month from today. However, they've stopped short of calling it the Last Day. Instead, it's called the Judgement Day to be followed by the end of the world after five months on October 21, 2011.

Now is that some sort of a grace period given to push the maximum numbers through. I'm reminded of instant exams we had in college. Students who failed in no more than one subject were allowed to take 'instant exam', conducted within 45 days so they do not lose an academic year. It not only benefitted students but also institutions that showcased a better pass percentage. Similarly, those who haven't so far accumulated the required scores, I guess, will receive a five-month grace period to pull up their socks when the final callsheet will be marked in October when they get the previlege to hang their boots!

The Dooms Day theory goes something like this...(the little I understood from the cacophony around) people who are adamant about not improving themselves, even after next month-end, will be left on Earth to suffer post-October.

Family Radio Worldwide, an independent Christian Ministry, based in California is the one pulling out all stops to propogate their so-called logical prophecy, simply because they claim it to be Bibilical.

So where do people get to see their progress cards? Hope Camping (leader of the Family Radio) will display them preferably online or on his favourite platform - billboards. 

Interestingly, Mayan followers are quiet after Camping and his brood took to the roads. Probably adopting the wait-and-watch policy to alter their stance. Lucikly for them there's more than a year. Have enough time to alter or even edit their prophecy. However, they seem to be more practical or rather astronomical!

Their explanation is in 2012 the Milky Way galaxy will assume a rare alignment which occurs once in about 25,000 years. And that may cause a shift in magnetic poles, which in turn will affect weather patterns.
There are other groups who associate this shift with the inner self... of spiritual awareness or consciousness.

Then we have the ever-potenet Research Sect suggesting the Sun will release solar flares disrupting life on planet Earth, which they themselves say is not unusual.   

Any proof. Well, wait and watch. As for Family Radio and Mayan prophecies, pick up their respective books and decipher the so-called hints. That is if you care.

Remember the Millennium talk in the last quarter of 1999? Of how the computers would go blank and the self-prophesied geeks going crazy taking back-ups of stored data because they thought many computers wouldn't know what the year 00 would be? What happened? People ushered in the New Year rather the New Millennium and logged in to send greetings. 

Similarly, last month the tale going around was that of the Supermoon. When the Japanese were struggling to cope up with the devastation, astronomical fanatics were debating their assumptions of how the Supermoon was the cause of the killer tsunami. If it was a coincidence that the earlier tsunami in 2004 was close to one such Supermoon, then we need to wait at least two decades to prove it. As astronomers say such a phenomenon will occur only after about 18-odd years.

So let's wait for at least two more decades to see if another killer tsunami will follow a quake which in turn will follow closely or precede the Supermoon or choose to go tangent. This will also buy us time to check on the Mayans, the Campings, spiritual leaders and any other sect who would want to join in the melee.

The more the participants the more the theories that will unfold and even more the confusion that will ensue. And the more the consfusion the better the reason to live - don't we wake up each morning with a purpose of proving another wrong?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why cricket should be the National Sport of India

Rightly anticipating the reaction if India becomes the new cricket champions
of the world, I was determined not to write a piece on anything even
remotely associated with the game - that is even if my nation were to lose
the finals. No, it's not disrespect or attitude (Gosh! I treasure my ribs in
place). Coming from a land where cricket is religion, don't I know better.
The truth be told - I can't think of unused superlatives and frezied one-
liners that began inundating the media from the run-up to the finals. How
much do I tweak the already consumed words to sound different? Friends
sugested a comment on the final day performance or the individual scores or
even the future of the champions... Well, leave me alone, I'm no game.

However, if I still choose to waste time and space on the hit-and-run
issues, it's because the chases and misses have crossed the borders. Was
heart-warming to see Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the
Indian Premier Manmohan Singh sit close together without much ado and
presumaly enjoying a game very unfamilar to the one they are masters at.
After the hype of political presence at the stadium even days before the
actual semi-final match, it wasn't surprising to hear the Foreign Secretary
issue a statement. Yet I think any other lower-ranking official could have
read the statement.

If the might and power of this game is such that it is expected to boost
cross-border camaraderie, then shouldn't it be upgraded as the National
Sport of India? Hockey players haven't ever received the same attention,
forget adulation, in free India. They've tried playing, then comparing,
pleading and complaining...miserably falling short of even the deafest
of ears.

Well, the debate has been doing the rounds since a while. Popularity,
remuneration, win-loss statistics, trophies, ground realties of the two
games have been compared and rumenated over the years to no definite

Now, here's one reason why cricket should replace hockey as the National
Sport - the government has endorsed the game. Period.