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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Curious case of PK

He stepped on this planet. Everything was new for him. He had been sent on a special mission on the earth. He was an alien. His name was PK. PK was fascinated by the human race on the earth. All of them were so beautiful, so colourful.
After staying on the planet for few days, PK discovered that he was male. But still he was so different from rest of them. How he did not know. He wanted to make his mark on this planet. He wanted the humanity to remember him. He was undoubtedly well built and well endowned. Still something was missing.
PK would roam around the busy streets of Mumbai, staring at the young men sporting various fashions. He would try to imitate them by wearing similar clothes. He wanted to look like a hero. He stared at the posters of bollywood movies and compared himself with the leading heroes. He had the same height and built. He even learnt to smile like them. Only first four teeth should be visible, he told himself numerous times.
PK was now confident that he looked like a hero. He was waiting for the girls to woo him. He thought that the girls from the planet earth would drool over him. However, in spite of those bulging muscles and flat board abs of PK, nothing of that sort happened. He never knew why.
That frustrated him even more. By now he had even heard from people that he resembled Amir Khan. But then too why no girl was loving him? Why no one was interested in accompanying him for a movie or a cup of coffee?
Things were better on his planet thought PK. On his planet everyone was without clothes and everyone was beautiful. There was no competition to look better than others. Everyone was loving and respectful towards each other. If you loved somebody your emotions would automatically transform into the others mind by intution and the other person would reciprocate. But life on earth was so different.
Finally PK gathered courage and asked a girl out for dinner. She accompanied him for the dinner. They ate dinner at the costliest hotel in Mumbai. Needless to say it was PK who paid the bills. But after the dinner the girl told PK that he was like a brother to her. PK lost the money and girl too.
Unable to control his emotions PK bursted into tears. He went to the washroom. Salty tears were rolling down his cheeks. That is when something struck him like a thunder. PK understood that it was his whiskers and beard that was repelling women away from him. He realized that though he had the physique of a bollywood hero, his face was full of hair. All the bollywood heroes had a clean shaven face. PK had missed this chance. But wisdom had dawned upon him. There are many things which he had to learn on this planet. Being well groomed and clean shaven is necessary to make an impression, was the lesson he had learnt from his short stint on the earth.

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette. 

Celestial date

I have never seen as beautiful woman as her.” said the sevak with his folded hands.
There was a glint of happiness in the eyes of Raja Roop as he moved his fingers across his long flowing beard. The King had heard of the beauty of Nagarvadhu of Vidisha for a very long time. He was too eager to meet her. He had spent days sitting quietly on his jewel studded throne and imagining the beauty of Nagarvadhu.

Had the Nagarvadhu been his subject, he could have had access to her as and when he wished. But she stayed in a different state. That too in an enemy state. The King thought of visiting her in disguise. He had sent his sevak to do the reccee.

Accordingly the sevak was back with all the information which the King had sought.
Your Majesty, they say that Nagarvadhu of Vidisha Kundandevi is replica of the Apsaras of the heaven. Rather she is more beautiful than the Apsaras. Legend has it that even the Gods from the heaven step upon the earth and disguise themselves only to spend some quality time with her.”
Your Majesty she has glow of thousands of moons and her voice puts the strings of Sarangi to shame. Her eyes are deeper than the oceans and her gait is princely and seductive. She holds a very strong political position as well. She chooses her clients.”

The more Raja Roop heard about her the more he was intrigued. He had achieved all the objects which he had thought off. He could not sleep until he had the darshan of the divine beauty by name Kundan.

Finally on one full moon day the King disguised himself as a cloth merchant and swayed towards Vidisha on his horse along with his coterie members of which too were disguising themselves as merchants.

The Kings heart was throbbing in anticipation of a meeting with the celestial beauty. The King had an eye for beauty and he liked to lay his hands of all that was beautiful. As he rode on the horse, his beard swayed with every wave. The King stopped at the outskirts of the Vidisha. He watched his countenance in the golden mirror. The beam of moonlight which fell on his face, made him look even more handsome. He had inherited the skin tone of his mother and the masculine features of his father. No wonders he was one of the most handsome men living on the planet. He was sure no woman would say him no. He adjusted his clothes and ornaments and applied a dab of saffron powder across his face. His sevaks smeared his clothes with the most expensive scents.

The palace of the Nagarvadhu was illuminated. It was no less than any Kings palace. At the gates the guards frisked them before allowing them entry inside. The palace bathed in golden light of the torches adding mystery to the setting.

Nagarvadhu's secretary welcomed the King and she asked for the purpose of his visit. The King introduced himself as a cloth merchant and placed the sack of goldcoins in front of the secretary.

I am sorry Sir. The nagarvadhu can not escort you.”
Why? If these are less I can bring more money.” Said the King who was obviously hurt.
Sorry Sir. Money is not the case. Devi Kundan detests bearded men. She only entertains the guests who are clean shaven. You are most welcome clean shaved.” Said the secretary with folded hands.
Thus the King lost an opportunity to date the most beautiful women because of the facial fuzz that he sported. 

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Teresa's Man and other stories from Goa - Book Review

There are many treasures of literature hidden in regional languages. I laud Teresa' Man and other stories from Goa for its effort to bring regional gems into the English language. Indeed had these stories not been translated from Konkani into English, I would have definitely missed a great deal.

Damodar Mauzo is a Sahitya Akademi winner. He writes in Konkani language. Xavier Cota has translated his stories into the English language. Teresa's man is compilation of stories written by him over a period of more than four decades.

There are fourteen stories in this compilation. The stories deal with a variety of subjects with human emotions at its core. In the land of humans, is a poignant tale of a starved, drought affected farmer who hankers to live a human life by migrating to the city. It exhibits the conflict between the farmers who are compelled to sell their cattle for they have nothing to feed them and the city bred animal activists. She's dead narrates how difficult it is to break the news of a woman's death to her husband who is keen to enjoy those little pleasures of life which his deceased wife would not have allowed him to. The Vignaharta is the story of a man waiting for a birth or death in his family so that he will not have to spend on Ganesh Chatuthi festivities. We find characters like Kustha, who bring only the news of death, illness and other misfortunes,  in our everyday lives.

Bandh is a dramatic story showing the effects of a bandh called in the name of language, on those who have hand to mouth existence. It portrays the motor-cycle taxi culture unique to Goa. Coinsanv's cattle displays man animal relationship. It is a sad story with a happy ending. Teresa's man is the story of a woman who has to work because her husband stays idle. His ego is hurt by the sneers and comments from the society. He does the only thing which he could – battering his wife. For death does not come is one of the most interesting stories in the book. Its protagonist is a water snake who has to live for death does not come.

The best story in the compilation comes at the fag end. A writer's tale is an intriguing narration of idiosyncrasies of a near nymphomaniac writer.

The narration is simple and crisp. You will enjoy reading these stories. They will sensitize today's software bred pizza-burger generation to the realities of life.

The title Teresa's Man and other stories from Goa is deceptive. All the stories are not from Goa. The first story in the book From the Mouths of Babes is a bit out of place. The line on page 159 “Shami and helps us,” makes no sense and is grammatically incorrect. The meanings of Kokani words used in the stories ought to have been given in the form of a glossary. Still these translations are not to be missed. They have definitely enriched the English literature.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Win Rs.500 shopping voucher

"Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?"
Answer in the comments section and you could win Rs.500 shopping voucher.
Contest ends on 04/01/2015

Australia is the country which has something for everyone. It is full of the most amazing sights. Melbourne is the crest jewel of Australia. I love Melbourne for various reasons. Let me discuss a few.

I am an environmentalist. Now you may ask what has that to do with Melbourne. Well there is a connection and that too a very close one. River Yarra flows through Melbourne. Its water is crystal clear. It is so clean that you can directly drink from it. It is hard to belive that it was once full of toxic sewage and industrial effluently which gave out such an obnoxious smell that Melbourne had acquired the nick name Smellbourne. However strong political will and community efforts converted the ugly river into clean, pristine waters. This is indeed quite an achievement. Hence I love Melbourne. I hope that my countrymen, the politicians included, derive some inspiration from the Yarra's success story and clean up all the rivers which flow through our lands.

Melbourne is the outcome of the marriage of Victorian grandeur with the avant garde glass and steel in umpteen geometric shapes. On one bank of the Yarra stands stately red brick Flinders Street Station along with the soaring neo Gothic spires of St. Paul's cathedral. On the opposite bank is the Eureka tower. It has the highest viewing deck in the southern hemisphere. There is more to it – it has glass facade which is emblazoned with a rectangle of 24 carat gold which is also slashed by a line of red, which is quite dramatic. It symbolizes the 1850's gold rush. It was that gold rush which made Melbourne rich.

As you walk through the back lanes of the city centre, there are many surprises for you. So you will come across the mural of an aboriginal girl representing the original residents of the city. Let me share a nugget with you. The land where Melbourne stands was bought by an early settler from aboriginals. The consideration for the deal was – bundle of blankets and knives.

Further you will absolutely fall in love with the elegant art deco buildings and colonial era tea rooms of Melbourne. Melbourne is one of the most multi-cultural cities of the world. So there is plethora of Greek, Vietnamese and Chinese eateries. Melbourne is renowned for its trendy restaurants which offer the world famous OzMod i.e. modern Australian cuisine.

For sports enthusiasts the trip to Melbourne will not be complete without a visit to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It houses a portrait of Sachin Tendulkar prominently. However, it is football and not cricket which rules Australia. I love Melbourne for the support which it gives to football.

Melbourne is the city you will fall in love with again and again. Hope this eternal romance goes forever. 

The winner of the contest is studwriting81. Congratulations on winning Rs.500 shopping voucher. 

The Song of the Magpie Robin - Book Review

Zafar Futehally was one of the pioneers of conservation movement in India. He played a crucial role in taking it out from the discussions of elite groups to the national scene. He has held key posts in all the important conservation organizations BNHS, IUCN, WWF- India and Project Tiger to name a few.

The Song of the Magpie Robin is his memoir which he has written with a little assistance from Shanthi Chandola and Ashish Chandola. The book is divided in two parts. The first part comprises of personal memories of Zafar while the second is aptly titled as Pioneering Conservation in India.

Zafar spent his childhood days in a house at Andheri which had two-and-a-half acre garden. It is difficult to imagine such a large piece of green land in today's Andheri that we see. Magpie Robin was the bird which would frequent Zafar's garden. Hence the title “The Song of the Magpie Robin”

The second part narrates the story of rise of conservation efforts in India and the birth stories of organizations like Bombay Natural History Society, IUCN, WWF and the most ambitious and successful project- Project Tiger. Zafar states interesting tales as to how these organizations were formed, how they functioned and their contribution towards conservation on the Indian scene. People govern any organization and they come with their own egos, thoughts and idiosyncrasies. Plus there is constant brush with the bureaucracy. No wonders the song of Magpie Robin turns out to be an interesting read. It is heartening to see the commitment shown by Indira Gandhi towards protection of environment. I hope every Prime Minister shows the same level of commitment towards the environment protection.

The book offers a peek into the world of ornithology. For the first time I came to know how birds are shot for collection. The book accounts Zafar's expeditions along with Salim Ali, where they ringed birds, collected specimens, took notes and connected with their peers. Zafar also narrates how he thwarted the attempt to convert Karnala bird sanctuary into a MIDC. He says that we get ample rainfall. However the water is wasted as rivers empty themselves into the sea. What is needed is that the rain water must be arrested by increasing the forest cover on the mountains. He emphasizes that it takes hundreds of years to make a forest. So industries should not be allowed to deplete the forest cover in exchange of planting equal number of trees somewhere else.

While emphasizing joint efforts of the countries in conservation efforts Zafar says, “Though we should be clear in our minds that our policies should be shaped with reference to national conditions, we must recognize the importance of accepting international standards and the recommendations of specialized international bodies such as IUCN and the World Wildlife Fund.”

In the afterword Zafar's daughter says that after Zafar's death from the memorial meetings, press coverages and personal messages that she received, she reflected on Zafar's life as a classic textbook for naturalists and conservationists. I reciprocate her feelings. The only change I would like to make is that his memoir is a must read for every one no matter if he is a naturalist or not. For that will sensitize us towards the pressing environmental concerns and make us strive hard for preserving our beautiful planet for the posterity.

Yesterday while I was travelling I came across a lake. The birds in the lake caught my attention and I stopped to appreciate their beauty. I had passed several times across that lake. But those birds had never caught my attention. Zafar, the bird watcher had succeed in inducting me in his tribe through his writings.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

From a child's point of view

Travelling with children is not a good idea. Why? They have less immunity. They fall ill as a result of change in environment and diet. They have erratic sleeping timings. As a result even the adults can not enjoy most of their trips. Most importantly they forget the places which they had visited when they grow up.

But these ideas of mine changed during a recent road trip which I had with my nephew. He is three years old. I saw this journey through his innocent eyes. Let me tell you this was the best journey of my life.

When we hit the road and reached the highway, he was too happy to spot cars of various colours. He was happy on just seeing such a variety of colours speeding on the road. “Red is my favourite,” he informed me.

Soon the mountain ranges became visible. “I want to go to the top of the mountain,” he said. The next question he posed was how to reach the top. There was no path or stairs visible. All that we could see was a flock of cattle grazing at the top. His young mind was inquisitive to know how did those cattle reach the mountain top. He requested us to stop so that we could climb the mountains. Unfortunately we adults ignored his request with a laughter. This was the point of time when I could absolutely relate to him. Even I would hanker as a child to climb every little unknown mountain which we would encounter and pester my parents to take me to the top of the mountain. Why is that the adults never know the road to the top of mountain.

The child was helpless but not dejected. The next we saw a restaurant. The child pleaded to stop and buy him an ice-cream. This time his plea was accepted and all of us got down of the car for some coffee and snacks. There was a small garden in the restaurant. There was a swing and a see-saw. The child finished his ice-cream and went to play in the garden. We adults were not yet served with masala-dosa which we had ordered.

My nephew was so happy in the garden. He had forged friendship immediately with other children who were playing. He even found a mate to play see-saw with him. Fortunately our dosas took much longer to find their way to our table and my nephew got ample time to play. I was watching my nephew. He was so happy. This is what living in the moment is all about I said to myself.

After relishing our crispy dosa and filter coffee, we again hit the road. This time the simple sight of shanties serving as tea stalls made my nephew happy. “There are shops on my side, there aren't any on yours”, he teased me. Then a stray dog, huts, pinnacle of a temple, river, a bird flying in the sky, every thing upon which he could lay his tender eyes made him happy.

Even we have enjoyed this little sights as children. But as grown ups why have we lost the art of finding joy in little things which we feel are too insignificant to be noticed? Can we gain it again? The answer is yes we can regain it. How? Travel with a child. Look at the world from its eyes. Look at the world from a child's point of view and everything will appear magical. All your frustrations, tensions of being an adult will vanish. The child within you will get one more chance to resurface and to relive the life of a child

Monday, 15 December 2014

Birth of the Bastard Prince - Book Review

The year will end soon. If you ask me which book released in the year 2014 I liked the most, it would not be difficult for me to answer. Undoubtedly Birth of the Bastard Prince by Anurag Anand is one of the most beautifully written book I have ever read.

The book is a sequel to Anurag's earlier novel by name The Legend of Amrapali. Unlike Mahabharata and Ramayana, though people have heard of Amrapali, her story is little known to them. This works in favour of Anurag. The book keeps you intrigued. It is a daunting task to write a book based on history. There is fear of being accused of distorting the history. However, Anurag adroitly weaves the story while sticking to historical facts. The story has all the elements to form an epic – there is love, betrayal, loss of dear ones, friendships broken and finding the ultimate calling of life.

Amrapali was the bride of the city. Yet Anurag portrays her not as a prostitute but as a modern woman who yields high influence in the affairs of the State. Yet, she comes across as an ordinary woman with ordinary desires of having some one whom she can call her own, wanting some one who will love her and whom she would love back. Such is her misfortune that both her lover and her friend fail her at the same time. She is heartbroken, but still stands up and follows the voice of her heart. Conventionally Amrapali's tale may seem to be a tragic tale of exploitation and failure but for her it turns out to be exhilarating and liberating.

The writing is simple, crisp and engaging. Vaishali being a democratic State Anurag makes the writing contemporary with references like the young king wanting to induct fresh ministers. He brings to life the times of Amrapali. The way in which he has written the war scenes show his prowess as a writer. You can see the battle happening in front of your own eyes, you can hear the sounds from the battle field and even feel the pain resultant from the massacre. All the characters including Bimbisara, Ajatshatru, Prabha have been etched well. However, I felt that the character of Devdutt was underused. His character some how doesn't gel well with the narrative. The characters, their relationships and conflicts inter se are high point of this drama and remind you of the greatest epic of all times Mahabharata.

However the reference to tea vendors selling tea on Ganga ghats sounded out of place. The same stands true for use of the word Magistrate. The Britishers introduced Magistrates in our system. I feel Dandadhikari would have sounded better. Also on page 234 the word leant is incorrectly used. The line is “ it was only through the commander who had carried out the Emperor's orders he leant of it.” I feel it should have been learnt and not leant.

Still the book is highly recommended. If you are fed up of reading Dan Brown inspired thrillers and wish to read a gripping thriller set in the Indian soil, this is the book which will leave you satiated. You will never repent buying this book. 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Confessions of an (failed) Engineer

The first time I read the title of the book – Wasted in Engineering Story of India's Youth, I thought it was another Engineering college story involving the usual ingredients - romance, friendship and campus life. But as I began reading the book I was pleasantly surprised.

The book speaks about students who take up engineering without having any interest in it and parents who compel them to do so. The author himself studied electrical engineering with little interest in engineering. He was more drawn towards languages and humanities. He was interested in the societal problems. He never pursued a career in engineering. He ran a news analysis website few years earlier while working for a technology consulting firm. Presently he works for a national auditing organization in a financial position.

The message which the author wants to convey is that you should study the subject which you like. So though the writer choses to call the book a guide book for frustrated engineering students, the book has universal appeal. In the author's own words this book is not about any success story. It reflects his failure as an engineering graduate; failures from which the readers can hopefully learn. According to him the intention of the book is to tell that in many cases studying engineering is a total waste of time, energy and resources.

The writing is simple. The writing is credible as it is coming from the very mouth of the horse. The premise of the book is that students learn engineering to earn money. The writer narrates many examples to show how this premise is wrong. So you will be shocked to learn that watchmen and gatekeepers in an IT company draw the same salary as engineers working in that company and even many IGNOU graduates earn more than engineers. Not only the gatekeepers and watchmen, the writer says even beggars earn more than engineers. Engineering by itself does not guarantee you a well paying job. Rather even with an engineering degree and an MBA appended to it, finding a job is still difficult. Many BPO's spurt out in their advertisement that engineers need not apply. It is only the graduates from the top ten colleges take home those eye balls grabbing pay packages.

When it comes to application of the knowledge gained in an engineering college the author candidly narrates how he was unable to assemble an electric motor at his grandfather's place and an electrician had to be called upon to do the same. He says that many electricians know more than an electrical engineer and many mechanics know more than a mechanical engineer.

While discussing pros and cons of engineering course the authors discusses internal marking system, the IIT trap, IIM course and also the most fundamental question whether to take up commerce or science stream. The book is divided in to small chapters devoted to each of these sub-topics. The author also expresses his opinions about dress code for women, separate sitting arrangement in libraries and canteens for girl students in engineering colleges. Now this stands true for non-engineering colleges as well, particularly those in Tier II and III cities. The author is unhappy that students have to write their answers in a given limited space for writing answers. According to him engineering students are not kindergarten students and limited space crushes their originality. But can't original answers be written in the given space? The writer seems to be oblivious to the fact that most Indian students carry the impression that the more they write the more marks they will fetch. Limited space makes the students answer precise and to the point. The author stretches it too far when he says that children dump their parents into old age homes because they had forced them to join engineering college without their consent. There are no facts and figures to support this bare statement. He refers to it as parental karma. It would have been better if the writer had refrained from making such bold, unsubstantiated statements. He also raises his voice against the way the private institutes raise money through fees and don't account for the same.

The writer says “Doing what makes one happy is never considered a failure” and “While optimism and a positive outlook towards life is important, don't let them blind your eyes,” in the same breath. I feel that he contradicts his own statements. In my opinion on page 144 the word “incase” is wrongly spelt. It should have been “in case”.

Then too the book is a delightful read for the lines like “ You don't have to quit your job, but don't quit your dreams either,” “It is better to fail at doing what we like than win at doing what we don't like” and “ Study what you love and not what gives you money. Study a degree that increases your happiness not the one that increases your bank balance.”

You don't require a rocket scientist to tell you that you should pursue your career in the field which you really like. But it is better said than done. Number of students succumb to parental pressures and lose the joy of their lives; many lose their lives as well. So the message which the book wants to convey should reach each and every student and parent. That will lead to happier society and efficient work force. That is the reason why I welcome this maiden attempt of the author. 

Yama goes out of work

“Narayan, Narayan” said Naradmuni as he entered the palace of lord of the death Yama. Naradmuni the first journalist known to humankind has unobstructed access across all the planes. Seeing his arrival Yama who was relaxing on his couch got up.

“Pranam Muniwar.” Yama greeted the great sage.
“Narayan, Narayan. Looks like people on the earth are having long life as you are relaxing in your abode.” Said Naradmuni with a smirk.

“No that is not the case Munivar. The mortality rate has increased.”
“Who will take away their lives when you are having a good time in your palace Yama?” Naradmuni posed the question.
“Munivar it is road accidents. One person dies every minute due to road accident.” Informed the God of death to the great sage.

“How can a person die without your intervention Yama?”
“That is true munivar. These people are dying much before their due time. They are dying without any intervention on my part. Believe me munivar. It is their carelessness and mistakes which is claiming their lives and resulting in untimely death.” Yama said with his hands folded.

“Narayan Narayan. What are those mistakes?” The sage had another question.
“Munivar you move across all the planes. You are embarrassing me with such questions. But then too as the topic is of great importance. Let me enumerate the mistakes which lead to death. The first is people don't wear helmet and seat belts. I am the God of death. But still I wear my headgear when I am driving my vehicle.” Yama said as he pointed to the massive black beast reclining in the courtyard of the palace.

“Yes Yama I am all ears.” Said Naradmuni.
“ Secondly people don't respect speed limit. Driving over a given speed limit is not only illegal, but also dangerous. Driving at 60kmph on a road where the limit is 50kmph might save you 20 minutes, but it also increases the chances of an accident.”
“Very true Yama. You are so knowledgeable . No wonders you are the god of the death. Narayan Narayan.” Said the sage.

“Thirdly munivar several accidents take place because a driver does not pay attention to what is happening on the road. Any vehicle, of any size, can be the cause of an accident. Also remember that it is foolish to rely on your fellow drivers to follow the rules and keep you safe. One must stay alert and ensure that there is plenty of room to move the vehicle out of a potentially dangerous situation. Also talking over the phone and listening to loud music diverts the attention of the driver from the road.”

“Munivar drunken driving is the cause of majority of deaths in India. Even when I have some somras, I don't drive my vehicle. I ask any of my attendants to drive that day.”
“Yama, if people on the earth became wise like you, I am sure that they will not die an untimely death.”

Yama was now determined that he will try to touch as many points as he could. That was because he was sure that Naradmuni who was an excellent broadcaster who carry his message across all the planes. Though Yama was god of death, he could not take away a life before its predetermined time. That was against the law of nature.

“Moreover munivar, people should be more careful of the blind spots. Driving a four wheeler is all about judgment. Most of the times, you don't see the road or the spaces. So be a bit careful at such blind spots. Use the mirror and take help of some who is accompanying you. Also be careful when the weather is bad.”

“Yama I wish you should share this knowledge with everyone. That is the need of the hour” Said Naradmuni.
“Munivar, I wish I could. But my dutylist doesn't permit me to do so. May I request you to convey this message to all the souls and also ask them to be careful while driving.”

“Narayan, Narayan. You know I am Naradmuni. Even if you would not have told me I would have conveyed your message to everyone. That is my habit. I am happy that this habit of mine is doing some good work. Narayan Narayan.”

“By the way Yama, even the Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., conducts the Nissan Safety Driving Forum in India as part of its safety driving promotion activities. The program began as an annual activity in 2012. In its initial phase it covered three main Indian cities – New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai – and since then has gradually expanded to several additional cities across India.”

“Dear Munivar, please convey my best wishes for their programme as well.”
“Narayan Narayan. I will for sure.” Said Naradmuni as he left for the earth. He had a daunting task to complete. 

How I conquered my fear

It was my last year in college. I was very happy. I was not happy because I was passing out. I was happy because I had been offered the job of  an anchor for a news channel. It was a glamourous job.

I passed the general knowledge test conducted by the channel. I was called for the screen test. Layers of makeup were poured over my face. After a wait of half an hour I was summoned in the studio room. The cameraman asked me to speak something. I spoke a few words and he adjusted his equipments. He told me that he had locked me into a frame. He asked not to move and remain within the frame. I read the news on the scroll.

After eagerly waiting for two weeks, I received a call stating that I had cleared the screen test. I was summoned for the final interview. The channel had also offered me return air ticket for the final interview. My joy knew no bounds. I was so close to my dreams. My friends were more than happy that they were going to see me on television.

I flew to Hyderabad. I went to the sprawling office of the channel. The panel comprised of three men. I entered the interview room after seeking the permission of the panel. The moment I ensconced on the seat, the panel asked me if I had a degree in journalism. I said no. The advertisement did not say that a degree of journalism was a must to apply for the job. I did not say the same to the panel. They asked me if I had given a screen test. I replied in the affirmative. That meant the interviewers had not even seen the screen test. Time and again they asked me if I had a degree in journalism. If I recollect correctly they asked the same question thrice every time differently worded. They asked me if I was ready to sign an agreement whereby I would bind myself to work exclusively for the channel for three years. I politely said no. Then came the most important part of negotiation. The pay check. They asked me what was my expectation with regard to the salary. I quoted the figure which I had in my mind. They offered me peanuts in turn.

I returned home. I was in a fix. I did not know what to do if I was selected for the job. The job was glamourous. But I was offered peanuts as a salary. Moreover I was required to stay in Hyderabad. That meant there was no scope for career growth. Had it been Mumbai, my career would have grown by leaps and bounds. I remember I had sleepless nights that week.

However, the call that was expected never came. What came was the time-table for my final year examinations. I was so busy with channel interview that I had little time to study. The examination was just a fortnight away. I was afraid that I would fail. The fear of failing in the examination was eating me every moment. I was an intelligent student. My failure would be a biggest blot on my career. Avoiding the fear was the only solution. So I decided that I will not appear for examinations that year. I decided to drop out from the exams.

However my decision did not go well with my mother. She asked me to appear for the examination and write whatever I knew. She compelled me to do so. I wrote the exams reluctantly. The anticipated results gripped me with fear again. The results were declared. I had passed with flying colours. I had learnt an important lesson of my life. You can conquer fear only by facing it point blank and not by running away from it. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Lakshmi and Saraswati's Joint Venture

 “Dear sister Lakshmi, you are the one who is never stationary. However, for the past few days you are always in your quarters in the heaven. You also appear gloomy. What is the matter?” Asked the goddess of knowledge Sarawati to her sister.

Dear Saraswati you are right.” Said Goddess Lakshmi fondling with the lotus garland in her neck. “There was a time when I hardly had any time to sit in my luxurious quarters here in the heaven. I would be making rounds of my various devotees on the earth.”

Yes of course. You are the most sought after goddess by the mankind.” Saraswati said winking her eye.
Yes I too hanker to visit the homes of my devotees and bless them with prosperity.” Said a distraught Lakshmi.
Then what is the matter Lakshmi? If your carrier vehicle owl is out of service, I can lend you my peacock. I don't mind. Because there are very few who invoke me.”

That is not the case Saraswati. My vehicle is in perfect shape. The state of earth is what is bothering me.”
Why? Lord Brahma was telling me that all is well on the planet.” Said the Goddess of knowledge patting her peacock.

All is not well Saraswati. You know I am all about cleanliness. But people have equated me just to wealth.”
Yes on Lakshmi pooja day a broom, which is believed to be your image is worshiped in many Maharastrian homes.”

Yes. But these days people litter everywhere. Wherever I go what I find is empty wrappers of chips, plastic bottles and gutka sachets. I am speaking about the lanes that are abutting the devotees homes. I change my course on seeing garbage and other unclean places. But the humanity has turned the entire planet into a garbage ground. People keep their houses clean. But throw the waste from their houses on the streets. I wish to visit their cleaned houses. But how can I cross that squalor which covers most of the street? You know I detest unclean environment.”

Yes I know. Lakshmi you may not be wearing snow white clothes like me, but I know your dislike for unclean environment.” Said Saraswati nodding her head.

The filth leads to numerous diseases. It pollutes the pristine waters, land and even the life giving air which father Brahma created. People pollute their surroundings. They fall ill because of the garbage dumping, spend on hefty fees of doctors and then say I never visit their homes.”

Sister Lakshmi even I have been educating people on cleanliness. I have been telling everyone to keep their premises clean. To segregate the organic and non-organic waste. The other day I visited the thoughts of one of my sons and taught him to have a compost box in his home. Just imagine if everybody had a compost box in their homes, most of the garbage from the planet would be turned into gold. That is because 70% of the waste generated from households is biodegradable.” Said the goddess of all arts and sciences.

I will have to smile on that devotee of yours. You know compost is very expensive.”
Yes sister. I know.”
As regards the plight of those public toilets is concerned the less the said the better it is.” Lakshmi seemed to be very unhappy with the unclean environment.

Yes those are very filthy. Those lead to various types of infections. Many of my daughters refuse to go to public toilet, hold back their calls of nature until they reach home and fall ill as a result of it.”
It is so sad.” The pain on Saraswati's face was palpable

Sister Saraswati plus that is tarnishing the image of the holy land of India. Foreign tourists consider India to be ugly, filthy and pollution loving country. Plus the waste is discharged into rivers making them dirty and turning their sweet waters from blessing to a curse. Did you see what did they do our sister Ganga? They made her ugly. Do you know they even defecate on her banks?”

Sister Lakshmi I too was once flowing as a river on the planet earth. The very word Saraswati means the flowing one. The great Indus civilization evolved in my lap. But seeing the plight of our sisters today I am glad that I mysteriously disappeared from the planet earth. Otherwise they would polluted me too. You know how much I like white.”

Yes you wear white all the time. But considering your beauty any colour will look good on you.” Said Lakshmi with a smile.
“Lakshmi colours and extravagance are for you. I am happy with my simple white.” Said Saraswati blushing.

Ordinary people think that we two sisters don't get along. But the fact is wherever there is cleanliness both of us coexist, isn't it?”
Well said sister Lakshmi! Wherever there is cleanliness all the Gods stay there.”

Sister Saraswati we have to join hands to save father Brahma's creation. You impart them the knowledge of cleanliness and I will fund the cleanliness drive. Together we will and we can.”
Yes sister Lakshmi. Hope our collaboration will make the world clean.”

The next day there was a news in the newspapers that many corporates were funding various NGO's for carrying out cleanliness drives as a part of their corporate social responsibility. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Laws of the Spirit World - Book Review

Khorshed Bhavnagri had two sons Vispi and Ratoo. She lost both of them in a car accident. She started communicating with their souls through the process of automatic writing.

Automatic writing is the process through which spirit beings communicate with human beings on Earth. The spirit being, whom you are communicating with, will move the pen while you hold it lightly on the page. Slowly, over time, words and then sentences will appear.

Khorshed's sons, Vispi and Ratoo told her that it was her mission to spread spiritual knowledge on Earth. They expressed their desire to dictate, by the same process of automatic writing and then telepathically, a book containing the laws of the spirit world, for which they had obtained special permission from a higher soul. They thought it would be of considerable benefit to humanity to know the true laws of God and the spirit world, which if followed, would help the humanity to advance spiritually. It was the desire of Vispi and Ratoo that the book be dictated, published and distributed widely. This is how the Laws of the Spirit World came into being.

The book is divided into two parts. The first one comprises of Spirit Communications from the Journals of Khorshed Bhavnagri. She would communicate with Vispi at least twice a day, sometimes even three to four times in a day. She received messages on various topics, the sequence conversational tone and language of which have preserved in the book exactly as they were received. This forms first part of the book

The second part comprises of question and answer section. Here questions regarding soul, subconscious mind, free will, karma, your mission on earth, suicide, God, prayer, positive thinking, pride and humility are answered by the souls of Khorshed's sons.

The writing, if I can call it, is simple and easy to understand. You may find it bit repetitive. But as stated in the book the sequence, conversational tone and the language of the messages has been retained. Perhaps that may be the reason for repetitions. Moreover, if repetition helps a person to imbibe good virtues it would be helpful. The book has numerous pictures of the Bhavnagri family. It also has pictures of messages received by Khorshed through automatic writing. There is also an interview with Khorshed at the end. 

Personally I liked the question and answers section more. If you have read books by Yogananda, Deepak Chopra and Dr. Brian Weiss, you will find nothing new in the first part. But in the second part there are a few interesting concepts which I learnt for the first time. One of them is the shifting of the axis of the earth.

The book explains the need of rebirth. It asks us to keep our prayers short and filled with true emotions. The book says long prayers bore us. How true. But how many of us have the courage to admit the same? It asks us to wipe off the middlemen whom we call priests. As regards hope this is what the book says, “Hope is not about having fixed expectations. It is about going through the process in zestful and enthusiastic manner. In a sense hope means that a person lives positively day by day, and also has faith in the future. To “keep hope alive” is to go through the process of any situation positively, in the best way you can, and know that God will do what is best for you.

The book is simple. But it can soothe you, encourage you, give a reason to live and bring a gleam of hope in drudgery. Isn't that a good reason to buy the book?

Sunday, 7 December 2014

To be or not to be

Pre-marital sex has always been there. The only change is that today's generation is open enough to discuss it.

I feel the answer to the question whether one can have premarital sex is both yes and no. If you are under the age of eighteen I would say no to having premarital sex. If you are unaware of what is safe sex I would ask you to refrain from premarital sex. If you think that your manliness can be counted only on the number of girls you have seduced to bed, then too a big no to premarital sex. Your habit will ensure that you will never be loyal to your spouse.

Now who can have premarital sex?
  1. An adult. You must be an adult to have premarital sex
  2. Emotionally stable. You must be emotionally stable if you want to indulge in premarital sex. Don't get swayed by emotions. If your culture , religion and morals are going to prick you for having premarital sex, it is better to refrain from it.

  3. Safe sex. This is the most important aspect of premarital sex. You should always practise safe sex. Not only will it reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy, but also protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
  4. Don't reduce sex to a commodity. Sex is one of the most beautiful and delicate acts. Don't reduce it to a commodity which you wish to own at any cost. Your manliness lies in your capacity to control your mind and not in boasting your count amongst your friends.
  5. Learn to say no. If your partner wishes to have premarital sex and you are not sure of it, speak about it and bargain for time. If you are having sex with your partner under the impression that he or she is going to marry you, it would be better to wait until the marriage is solemnized.

Sex is a wonderful thing. Our eastern philosophy has looked at it as one of the doors which will open up the gates to enlightenment. At the same time, it can not be overlooked that the epidemic of AIDS is on a rise in India. So in a nutshell if you are an responsible adult you may indulge in premarital sex if you are really ready for it and if you practice safe sex.

Some people regard virginity as a most valuable asset which is to be closely guarded. For some having sex with multiple partners is just like sipping a cup of coffee with your friends. I think both these approaches are far extremes.
We adults hardly speak about sex with our children. That raises their curiosity about sex. If we talk to them and educate them, they will realize that the carnal urge is like any other urge. It is just like feeling thirsty or hungry. So the familiarity of the topic will reduce the burning desire to experience it at the earliest if not breed contempt. 

Buy Poonam Uppal's A Passionaate Gospel of True Love : A Mystical True Love Story here