Sunday, October 20, 2013

A little faith, much love and... some gooey curry

My little girl's charcoal sketch of The Enlightened One... A coincidence that she shook me awake after this!
When I said I will not eat a dish placed precariously in delicate china near a yellow candle that seemed to croon and blush the maroonish-glistening gravy, I was told, "People come from far and wide enduring traffic, toll and weather, sit in queue to savour this and you don't even want to taste it?" My gregarious friends exclaimed as they scooped up more than heaps of dollops into their plate as the husband passed me the raitha.
"Why is she like this?" They continued, as if I had fought tooth and nail and forced them on a trip to Iceland only to complain about the weather and sit sipping Horlicks I carried along.
"I have faith in my organs," I replied.
"I have a deadline to meet tomorrow. I can't waste time in the loo." I explained.
"Common on, yaar!"
"If my eyes don't approve of it, my stomach will not accept it. Simple."
"That's your misplaced belief," said one from the other end of the table. Seconding him, came a few comments. "Yeah, yeah. This is all unwanted beliefs." "You should be open to everything." "You tend to be stuck in a one-off incident...". "You are even otherwise very rigid in your beliefs..."
What the heck? I thought. My stomach, my body, my mind, my decision.
As I began saying, "Even you guys are rigid in your belief...", the husband shushed me leaning across asking, "Want more raitha?" scuffling the rest of sentence, "...that only non-vegetarian dishes can complete a party," into his armpit.
It sucks. No, not his underarms. That ilk and their eeky beliefs.
This incident happened two years back.
But its only today I realised my ignominy of having tugged along defending gluttonous delight using magnanimous words such as belief and faith, when I was confronted with a situation that questioned my belief and faith.
As in Belief and Faith!
I forced my little girl to visit a holy shrine of which she had no idea of only to honour someone else's faith in the deity. In my blind belief to appease the person I love, I thrust my belief on to my daughter expecting her to follow instructions in good faith. And the project cancelled at the nth hour. An hour that proved costly only to my little girl as it came after she missed two days of school.
Lessons learnt.
1. Never thrust religion on your children. Enlighten them on all. Even talk to them of your beliefs in a particular faith and believe, yes believe, in the knowledge you impart and leave it to them to choose their faith.
2. Never mix faith and love.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Looking me in the eye, he said… and I wondered why

This Friday noon, seated in my living room, on my sofa, looking me in my naked eye, an elderly cousin said, “I didn’t inform you of the event…because you are allergic to Malayalam…”

A loose comment by an elderly, who’ve spent donkey’s years and more away from his homeland, should be termed just that, I told myself in order to continue drooling in the weekend groove.

But I have a dear friend, who holds me back during such moments by lending me what I call customized-to-my-feelings  books, which knock me on the scalp screaming ‘dare you become an escapist’!

This time, it is Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Unaccustomed Earth’, which has an answer for me.

Here it goes…

In his desperation at justifying abandoning his homeland to secure riches for his progeny, while nurturing attachments to the land he is not tied by blood or birth, and yet unable to strike roots in his adopted land, it’s his torn cultural beliefs, if any, that make him [and scores of others like him] take pot shots at me [and scores of others like me] who doesn’t fit into his overly-touchy self-defined ‘native’ description.

Well, I’m not writing this to mark myself on my love-for-my-parental-tongue index nor profess my patriotism as much for saying what marvelous piece of art I’m reading. It’s all about the immigrant populations’ Indian ethos, cultural shocks, mucked up personal identities, suppressed emotions, addictions… relationships. Yes HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS!

As a starter, here’s a teaser…

A Indian widower refuses to settle down with his married daughter in the US saying he doesn’t want to ‘burden’ her, when in reality he has found a new love at a ripe old age. But before he leaves he plants his wife’s favourite plant in his daughter’s garden and asks her to take care of it.  Why?

The reason is left to the reader’s ethics, if I may say so. Because she is not talking morals. It’s only emotions. You peel layers and layers of emotions through each story until you are left holding only more of it. An undefinable, unexplainable mix of feelings, which is right and wrong at the same time.

Watch this space for the review…I’ve just meandered half-way through the book yet. 

PS: I wish my 'allegator' reads this book.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

How positive is negative voting?

Appeared in TFW on Oct 3
Don’t underestimate the power of a common man! A dapper Shah Rukh Khan sprawling his hands delivers, arousing the nation. And now, the Supreme Court has seconded it. Wow!

Indians will receive a revised set of MCQs this time around. Laymen who were leaning against their armrests tired of Namo crackers and Gandhi bombshells sighing over the cacophony of all the wannabes sat up excited on hearing the Supreme Court order offering them each a baton. Grabbing it hard, they are prepared to hit them, nail them or simply ignore them all. 

But unlike students who get marked right in case the answer is NOTA, will the adults get away with the tick?

The wrong candidates may not get to occupy the coveted seat they lobbied for. But what happens if the majority of the electorate decides to opt for none? 

A right tick, in this case, may prove costly to laymen – to the very lot who fought for the privilege to exercise the freedom of choice. Those who stand tested in this general elections will be them as much as the politicians.

The fear is there. One reason why we heard cautious comments from the political class on the court order.

If only Bollywood reels took over real life! The power of a common man has hitherto only flickered selectively, shone brightly randomly and disappeared constantly in regular pre-determined patterns.

The deeds of politicians have always been mightier than the collective power of the entire nation. Scandals one bigger than the previous bombed and disappeared into thin air.  Issues snowballing into crucial intensity weathered into sobriety by seasoned hands. 
Election-time agendas and all-year through debates for the betterment of the aam admi have been the only winners. Empty promises – the power of the elected class – have always been unleashed without mercy.

The common man is tired. They need a spotless government – one devoid of any corrupt person. After more than six-long decades here’s the chance for that.

But consider a scenario where none gets elected; okay, let’s be more realistic – where none gathers a majority to form a government – then? If the common man were to exercise his powers rightly,  then the scenario will be far from being imaginary – considering the current crop of wannabe leaders.

The flip side of NOTA will then be a hole in the tax-payers’ pockets. But the tamasha will continue. Just like Bollywood, our elected class will keep us entertained  for the next five years. Do we have the nerve to withstand that? Well, old habits die hard… Practice makes perfect…

Chuck the adages!