Thursday, August 15, 2019

REUNION- FOUR DECADES LATER

It was the decade of the seventies when the toddlers who had morphed into boys and girls were into one of the schools which was an upcoming one. By the end of the decade, it was time to bid a farewell into the new realm of high school. Time flew and brought a chasm which appeared hard to fill. Burying emotions and having fleeting memories, the entire group moved on with little or no contact. Early nineties saw a strange encounter which is detailed in https://blendingvoices.blogspot.com/2008/09/strange-encounter.html and sowed the seeds for a possible reunion.

It is said "Man proposes and God disposes". The cherished memories and the scope of a reunion also faded into the inner realms of the mind only to surface occasionally. Then came the college reunion detailed in https://blendingvoices.blogspot.com/2013/08/gundi-haaku-88-trip-down-memory-lane.html

The facebook accounts opened for the college reunion was leveraged to find a couple of friends. Six years down the lane, a chance encounter with one little lad who resembled the most popular prankster of the class led yours truly to his home. The meeting with this lad named after a famous freedom fighter brought to surface the plant of reunion. Over a period of four months efforts were made to reconnect with not much success.

It was again the social media which came to the rescue with one request leading to another that the numbers crossed the double digit in a week's time. Chat messages and telephone calls set the reunion in motion. The fact that two of them were to be in town from the United States acted as a catalyst. The spanner in the works came in the form of an itinerary clash which was ironed out by one of them volunteering to defer his exit from India by a day.

This move sealed the date virtually motivating one of them stationed outside to also express the intention to join the gathering. Suddenly, the reunion not only appeared to be a reality but the possibility of trying to get all of them together was ambitiously thought of. Couple of mini get-togethers later, the informal network was so enthused by one of them who headed an MNC's sales operations in India that the networking moved to the whatsapp mode. The numbers were reaching the quarter century mark under the tagline "four decades later." An ex- service man ensured that the plans fell in place by pitching in with his ideas and volunteering to bear with yours truly's forgetful ways.

The D-Day approached nearer and the ex- service man tried to rope in the teachers as well as more contacts. The surprise was that the D-Day turned out to be the Founder's birthday too. Converging on the school for a birthday celebration, the men and women left for lunch exactly as they left school four decades back excitedly with no control over the decibels. Vision impairment of one of them did not come in the way of the bonding and soon the tables at the restaurant was a classroom reminiscent of the remark "This is not a fish market". After all the numbers stood at the last of the teens and fruition of the plant was savoured in full measure with at least half a dozen of the girls matching the boys getting together which was a feat by itself considering that one came from abroad and another travelled around 500 kms for the reunion.

Assuring ourselves that we had never had a better day, the parting shot came with the remark "Definitely not four decades later". Will the meet again be sooner or will it never happen again can be answered by Father Time. The photographs remain to tell the tale of the reunion for years to come.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

TAKING A LITTLE OF EACH OTHER

A wail is heard in the labour room and as joy radiates on the newborn's mother's face, we hear questions "whom does the child resemble?" The child grows and we speak of the gestures and mannerisms being identical to another individual ranging from parents, uncles, aunts, cousins et al. Adolescence and adulthood imprints the generational Mr/Ms X as the case may be with the likelihood of this child passing on some genetic traits to another new born. This is scientifically established fact too.

In this journey, one encounters many persons with different facets. Icons from the peer group, the traits of beloved friends and unconscious absorption of the traits of ones who have influenced the moulding of the character over a period of time get assimilated into oneself.

As a child, any comparison to someone else would infuriate yours truly who believed that uniqueness was bestowed on this blessed individual. But in a decade's time evolved a nephew born of a paternal cousin sister who resembled his father in totality but in a side view or profile view startled one out of the skin with his resemblance to yours truly. In another decade another cousin from the maternal side emerged who in his adolescence was dubbed my twin. Science of genetics played its role in humbling yours truly's bloated ego.

As years rolled on we parted ways at school and college. Reunion time rolled in. the surprise of surprises was that close chums not only reminisced their days but retained a nugget from their bosom friends with whom they had parted ways over a decade ago as a trait as validated by their spouses. This brought to the fore another friendship which is treasured and chronicled in the posts



We realized that we were on different paths with different goals. We were separated as chalk from cheese. A shy reserved person had morphed into a social animal while another boisterous kid had emerged as a responsible parent and caretaker. But all retained that trait that they had borrowed from their bosom friend who also retained that trait he had shared. This would baffle even the geneticists but as they say one is to be judged by the company you keep. 

Time rolled when a childhood friend who had parted ways decades ago dropped in to invite us for her daughter's wedding. The invite in itself was embedded with the traits imbibed from my mother in her childhood days.

This is a tribute to Tim Mc graw who could put it so succintly

We all take different paths, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other

Saturday, June 1, 2019

SPECIALIST V POLYMATH

The World Cup is in motion and a new debate has opened up. Do generalists prevail over specialists? A thought provoking question indeed!


In the gentlemen's game there are many who eulogised Don Bradman, there were others who swore by Muthaiah Muralitharan but as we glean the pages of history we find the ones whom people turn to in times of crises are men like Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham or Imran Khan. The all rounder in them putting general fundas way above any of the specialization is felt.



We wade through a hospital for a diagnosis where a simple pain is referred to a neurologist who says nerves are normal. Thereafter a reference is made to a rheumatologist who says it is a spasm where as a general physician would say it at first shot. But is there a choice?


We enter an office for a redressal. We are told the grievance is right but only the computer specialist can say how to redress it on the system. Another example of forgetting basics to specialize.


The higher studies as it is called was to enhance the knowledge in a particular field and not to ignore the fundamentals. Imagine a Chartered Accountant stating that he can audit but cannot pass a journal entry or a Cost Accountant stating that he can only read costing and cost centres. 



Closer home, imagine the lady of the house stating that she is a specialist in turning out a single dish and would only do that while a cook needs to be hired for the others or a housemaid stating that she is an expert in mopping while sweeping is a different department.



As one goes on the truth emerges that a more complete polymath is definitely the need of the hour while specialization should add value to the polymath and not erode his basic value.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

GANDHI'S DREAM WALK

The prompt on the Indiblogger site by Durgaprasad Dash, the reading of the riveting fictional piece The Madhigattan Encounter and yours own truly's repeated blogs on Gandhi having settled into the deep sub conscious with the remark that Godse was a patriot brought sweet slumber to the thoughts. 

It was an emotional connect as Gandhi walked up with his stick in hand and asked with a toothless smile, "Would you like to travel around the Mahaan Bharat?" Affably holding his hand, I asked him which place should I book the flight and for what time. He smiled and said, "You should learn to walk with the multitude to appreciate our nation". Soon we were on our way and desperate to keep upto his pace as we wandered down the urban streets, we ambled into a street cum cricket pitch. One of the boys was pleading that it was time to go home while the other remarked, "Oh this great Gandhi wants to study to the mirthful laughter of the boys. The young lad first got wild and then sobbed. Gandhi walked up to him and said, "Be brave my boy. Learn to do the right things without hurting others". The boy flew into a rage and said, " It is easy for you to play act Gandhi but do you know they are insulting me by calling me Gandhi?". 

Perplexed, I told him that Gandhi was the Father of the nation to a quick repartee "That is fine for a history exam but not to be called one by your friends". Reprimanding the boy for not knowing that he was called by a legend and apologizing to the toothless grin of the aged man, we moved forward.

We neared a gathering which was debating the issues that plague the country. Their was an unanimity in the youth gathered that Gandhi partitioned the country to give the crown to Nehru. The cause for the Kashmir imbroglio, the partition of Punjab and Bengal was laid at Gandhi's door. Embarrassed that the people were talking ill of him without recognizing the man beside me, I ventured to correct course telling them- "History can be analysed in hindsight but to decide as contemporaries would be a different ball game". The retort came with a huge dollop of sarcasm " We have had enough of that Gandhi and the subsequent Gandhis - they will be wiped out of history books"

Unknowingly, I exchanged a glance with the Mahatma. He smiled and said, " I agree that there is a time and place for everything. Today, Gandhi is not needed anymore. We do not have the British too. So let us move on."

At an election rally, "Godse is a patriot." Gandhi was the lone voice to say "I agree". A quizzical look elicited the gentle response, " Do not get emotional. He felt that I created the Pakistan and gave them too much. Bharatmata was in his mind as he only used his weapon to slay the person causing damage to her in his perspective."

I asked him, "Hey Ram. How can you say that of him?". He said, "The British thought they were good for India. We thought they cannot rule over us. One is always on one side of the divide. To be a visionary one must be able to see both sides of the divide. Partition became inevitable since the British hastened the Independence process when the Muslim League and the Congress were not on the same page. When one gets the credit for leadership the failures also should be in his account. We did succeed in getting political Independence but we have yet to get the cultural Independence as we have forgotten our roots. We need to appreciate everyone's view but take an appropriate balanced decision."

We moved into a village and soon Gandhi wanted to relieve himself. I took him to a swacch toilet which was constructed with his fundamental ideology. He smiled and said, " So India still needs Gandhi to clean it". He went in and did not return. As I banged the door of the toilet, it swung open and I closed my eyes and shouted, "Sorry, Gandhiji" only to be told not to shout in the middle of the night.

Thank Lord. Gandhi only wanted a walk through in my dream and not in real life as the walk in the dream itself had my joints aching. "What a man!" I thought to myself "still looming large after 70 years of his demise while we find it difficult to make even a small dent anywhere. Perspective differs over time!!! 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

INSPIRATIONAL BOOKS?

Books maketh a man. The legendary Francis Bacon laid down the maxim reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing an exact man. For him everything that could be read was inspiring and motivational. In the recent past there is a new category of writers who have held fort as motivational writers leading to some of these books becoming best sellers.

The prompt on the Indiblogger site by Vartika Gopal inspired this post. First google the best motivational books and one site listed ten of the must read ones. None in fact had caught the attention of yours truly till this time. The question then was as to whether one could comment on the usefulness of these books without reading them.

Robin Sharma's The Monk who sold his Ferrari and Who will cry when you die are probably the feeblest attempts to read the motivational category of books. However, books by themselves are motivating. Gandhi held the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata close to his heart. The Bhagvad Gita which inspired him does not figure in this list. Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China, Menachem Begin's The Revolt or Tolstoy's War and Peace which inspired a mind like Nelson Mandela do not find a place in this category. The Complete Works of Mahatma Gandhi which inspired Martin Luther King or his I have a Dream which inspired Barrack Obama do not find as much as a mention under this category.

The solace is that while the story of Rip Van Winkle inspired Martin Luther King to chase a dream, it had also inspired me to consider sleep to be a gift of God. This revelation drove home the fact that any book can inspire a mind which is willing to act and not be even a source of unwinding for many others. The inspiration I have derived from the Panchatantra, the Jataka Tales, or from stories of Birbal and Tenali Rama are no less. 

The difference lies in the reader. Can he absorb and motivate himself by any book or search for a book which will bear the label inspiring is a choice of the reader. No book or writing can be ignored. They are inspiring if the mind is receptive. After all, the Bhagvad Gita was not propounded in isolation though directed at Arjuna intended for all to appreciate. An Arjuna grasps the potential while Bhishma savours it from a distance the rest of the multitude is immersed in the material thought as to why the war is being deferred.

After all it is not for nothing that George Harrision penned :It's all in the mind.

Once the mind tunes to the content of the writing then the import is grasped and it has its benefits let alone uses.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

MATERIALISM AND NOBLE PROFESSIONS

An infant looks up to its mother for the gospel truth. Years pass by and as a tiny tot on being corrected by a parent, pat comes the reply, "My teacher has taught like this only." Later we look at a peer group for worldly wisdom. The search for a mentor would mean that we still admit learning is a process where the taught requires a teacher. As a nation we place "Guru" over God. In fact in one of the devotional poems, Kabir rests the balance in favour of the teacher, thus

                                   गुरू गोविन्द दोऊ खड़े, काके लागूं पांय।
                                   बलिहारी गुरू अपने गोविन्द दियो बताय।।

In short, he says that if the teacher and God appear together, he would choose to prostrate before the teacher first as it was he who led him to God. Then what makes a Guru materialistic?

The story of Drona of Mahabharata portrays this quintessential aspect. In the court of Drupada, Drona is insulted but none comes to his rescue even though he is the son of the fabled Rishi Bharadwaja who is one of the saptarishis. Rishi Bharadwaja also played host to Shri Ramachandra when the meeting with Bharata takes place. Thus, society at that stage also had made it clear that the Guru needs to fend for himself and his family. The Gurudakshina had to be fixed by him to protect his status. Compare this to the Gurukula system where  Guru Sandipani taught Krishna and Sudama. They revered the Guru and gave him their utmost so he did not need to seek.

If necessity is the mother of invention so is it the mother of many other children like materialism.

The other way to look at it is the convenience of expecting others to be having exemplary morals while we lack it ourselves. A teacher ought not to be materialistic. A doctor or a nurse should not bother about personal needs. A leader needs to sacrifice his needs for the public good. This reminds me of an essay in Hindi wherein the people put some others on a pedestal so as to avoid following the principles. Gandhi is conferred title of Mahatma. Jesus is eulogised as Son of God. Mohammed is turned Prophet. Nanak Dev is turned into a Guru. There is no dispute in conferring these titles but we reduce ourselves to common men and say that we are beyond such achievements or even an attempt to do the same. The matter does not stop there we also start questioning several such persons who attempt on why they do not lead a frugal life, sacrifice more or even prescribe standards which is nothing but an abashed display of our own base intentions.

Repeated onslaughts on these noble professions have led to the day when they have come to state that theirs too is a commercial profession. Who is to blame?

Let us mend our ways to facilitate them to regain their glory.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A LESSON IN BEREAVEMENT

Yours truly had the occasion to visit a nearby hospital and be greeted by a coffin making its exit with a score of wailing humans. The hospital was making its best efforts to console the bereaved and assuage the feelings of the other attendants. The scene was one which was common to most bereavements and our hearts went out to the unknown bereaved.

Couple of days later, yours truly was making his way down the home stretch. Barely a couple of lamp posts away from the beloved home, the sight of the mighty dog army raised the hackles and made one wonder whether it was wise to take the next step forward. At that point under the protective gaze of the adults, three pups made a ramp walk across the road. Fluffy white pups with brown patches altered the feeling from fear to endearment.

The pedestrians waited for the event to conclude. A two wheeler steered by a young lady swept past us and within seconds a crack was heard. The second pup lay motionless and bleeding profusely. Couple of men gestured to the lady to speed away which she obliged. Another told us to pick nearby stones as the dogs would now get aggressive.

The motionless crowd was given a lesson of their lives by the stray dogs!!!

The dogs moved in single file smelt the pup and in a disciplined manner moved to the sidewalk again. The mother (just cannot use the word bitch for the noble bereaved animal) shed a tear and moved the remaining pup to safety. No whimper! No bark!! No attack!!!

Pedestrians moved as the dogs held a silent conclave. A man picked the corpse and buried it as the dogs paid a tribute from a distance. 

Next morning, none of the stray dogs were found. They had moved in search of a safer haven. The mother returns once in a while to inspect the blood stain on the road from a distance.

Dignity in bereavement was in full display.

 A lesson to the mortal human - 

Nothing will change the me first attitude in the human, 
while the rest follow live and let live as a rule.