Illusion or Disillusion

Haven’t we all wished to rewrite the fate of a certain fictional character because we thought they deserved better? Haven’t we all wanted to know what were our favourite characters thinking during the toughest of their times ?  While some of us create an alternate destiny  and let them live happily ever after in our heads, there also a few of us who write a fan fiction as an ode to our favourite characters. But then there are others who feel strongly about them that they can go on to write a full-fledged novel based on those emotions.  Continue reading “Illusion or Disillusion”

Bangalore Mirror ran this blurb for its news story. What happened next …

What happened next shall be a lesson for Bangalore Mirror. When the citizens act more mature than the so called conscience keepers of the society, we should not lose hope of a better future for our nation. The story runs like this – Bangalore Mirror reported a crime incident in the city – “A 40-year-old man is fighting for his life in the ICU after being stabbed and robbed behind Mecca Masjid in Austin Town in the wee hours of Sunday. After the robbers left him bleeding on the deserted street, he ran 1.5 km to reach home, and collapsed at the doorstep……”
The man is fighting for his life in ICU and we hope he recovers well. However, men at the social media desk of Bangalore Mirror wanted to get more visitors and shares and likes and follows and what not – so a plain report detailing the incident wasn’t enough. The social media link came with the following blurb while the article didn’t have a single mention of ‘Patna‘-

“Shocking! Is Bengaluru the new Patna?”

Now, how much of the comparison is true/untrue is something I will leave to the sensibilities of the readers. It’s not very difficult to bring up a comparative study of crime rates of Indian cities. However, there is no denying that the introductory note to the article was in utterly poor taste and a vulgar visage of sensationalism. However, many of the readers chose to react to this mockery of journalism in a way that surprised me. While I had expected an unfortunate bickering between Bangaloreans and Patnaites because of Bangalore Mirror’s hara-kiri, I found something that must have made the social media rookies at BM chew their own feet.

Following are a few comments that we have chosen to highlight from the article link on Facebook. We salute these sensible readers for showing such maturity in an age when media is trying its best to disintegrate the society.
Do let us know what you think about all of these –

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Kaveri Speaks Kannada

 

It has been only a couple of months since I arrived in the city. I was returning home from office and the bus was plying down NICE road. My heart was thumping in anticipation of something. Others in the bus too would have felt their hearts thump hard against their anxiety-filled faces. The anxiety soon turned into distress when a mob of young men stopped the bus. They were shouting aloud a lot of things. The only word I could hear clearly was Kaveri. The driver tried turning around the bus to head back to office but the young men threatened to pelt stones. The driver got down, spoke to the men in Kannada and tried pacifying them. His pleas fell on deaf ears and a feisty commotion followed outside the bus. But inside there was a dreadful silence. Cars, buses and a lot of other vehicles stood there in silence while the commotion continued. A few minutes later we were all asked to step out of our vehicles. The young men said that they cannot allow our vehicles to go any further. We got down and stood there, lost! The sun was already down and there was a thick dark patch across sky. I thought it must be another one of those mystic cloud painting across the canvas of sky.

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It did not take us too long to understand that we were on our own. The emergency helplines were busy and there was no sight of police. No one was coming to rescue us out of the dire situation. We wanted to get away from there before the situation turned any worse. So we decided to walk. As we walked down the long road, I figured out that the dark patch was not the rain cloud but smoke from the fire that was eating up the city. Few meters ahead in the middle of the road there was a truck completely wrecked down by fire. Beside the burning truck I saw a bigger and louder group of young men making merry around the burning truck. We were stopped again. The young men shouted out slogans and demanded that we repeat. We had no choice but to repeat the slogans after them. They asked “Kaveri yarathu?” .We replied “Kaveri namathu”. They cried “Beku Beku”. We replied with a “Kaveri Beku”. I did not know then that this was just the beginning of a long and arduous evening in one of my favourite cities.

As the highway ended and the city came into sight, I saw things that I had never experienced in person in life. Every few meters there was a vehicle on fire. Some were being lit, some still burning, some just burnt out and some in ashes. Every junction of the road was blocked with blazing flames on all sides. The flyovers were breathing fire too. We were redirected through smaller lanes as the main roads were completely engulfed in the flames. In one of those secluded lanes I saw people getting ready with wires, tyres and barrels of fuel for the next round of protests. They were loading fuel in vehicles to transport them across the city. We were stopped every now and then, rattled and bullied for not knowing the vernacular. Strangely enough, more than a good 30% of the protesters were teenagers and more than a 50% in their early twenties. Their eyes seemed to light up with joy at the sight of people who were scared and wanted nothing more than a safe passage to home. At times a few kind hearted men and women suggested that we keep our heads down and mouths shut to get past the fire.

We kept walking because that was the only option available. Metro was shut, city bus services crippled, and every other mode of transport including auto rickshaws and taxis were stalled. Private vehicles were stopped at every few meters and their registration was checked before they were allowed to drive through a fence of fire. People were seen hurrying home without wanting to attract any trouble. There were elderly citizens trying hard to breathe through the smoke, heavily pregnant women catching their breath every now and then, young mothers with their petrified kids cuddled to them, newly-weds with their hands clasped tightly, the differently abled finding their way through the commotion, tired laborers returning home after a long day, the sick hoping for some relief and a lot more. The air that night smelled more of hatred than of smoke.


I had already walked for more than 2 hours without a break along with a friend. Our backs started to break and legs starting to scream out loud in pain. We had sipped the last drop of water from the bottle. I stopped for a minute and looked around. All shops including eateries and pharmacies were shut. There was no food, no water, no emergency medicines and still no police. Home seemed like a long way away. Few minutes later, we stopped by in front of a wedding hall and asked for some water to drink. They were kind enough to give us some juice and a bottle of water. They let us rest there for a while before we started dragging ourselves home. At around 9.30 PM we were at Rajaji nagar. Google Map said 9 more kilometers to go and the night was getting chilly despite all the fire. I was hoping for a miracle. My miracle arrived in the form of a phone call. A friend was coming to pick us up. It was a risky proposition but we had no other go. Cramped in a bike, I looked around and I was instantly reminded of a beautiful picture that used to adorn the walls of my parent’s home.

This picture had been in the house for more than 30 years now. It was a wedding gift to my parents with a personalized note. My father had it framed and let it hang on the wall along with portraits of the family. The colors are now gone and the impressions of the ink are barely visible. That notwithstanding, I have always loved the picture for two reasons. One because that probably is the only wedding gift which survived the times and stayed in the family. Another because that was my first image of the beautiful Bangalore. It was a picture of Vidhan Soudha. I am not sure why their friend chose Vidhan Soudha for a wedding gift but the image was so enticing that I was in love with Bangalore even without visiting it. The stories from uncles, aunts and cousins who visited Bangalore only made it more endearing to me. I had the exact opposite feeling towards Chennai. Now when I think of it, the lack of empathy towards Chennai probably stemmed from the blind love for Bangalore. The first time I visited Bangalore, I could hear my heart thumping hard and racing fast in excitement. It was as if I was finally allowed to have that warm embrace that I had long yearned for. Unlike a lot of other things in life, Bangalore lived up to the tales I had heard about it. It was exactly as I thought it would be. I did learn to love Chennai over the years, but my love for Bangalore never diminished a bit. Every time I visited the city even if I was only passing through it, the city still filled me with some child-like glee and my heart thumped in joy.

The day was the 12th of September 2016. My heart thumped that evening too, only this time it wasn’t in joy but in pain and horror.

 

 

 

हम इस हमले की कड़ी निंदा करते हैं। (कड़ी निंदा सन्देश )

लांस नायक राघव यादव आतंकवाद के शिकार हो गए। कश्मीर में ड्यूटी पर कोई उन्नीस बीस साल के लौंडे ने गोलियों से छलनी कर दिया। बन्दूक उनके पास भी थी, पर उसको चलाने पर पाबंदी थी सरकार की तरफ से। इस से पहले कि ये समझ पाते कि सरकार जाये भाँड़ में, बन्दूक निकालो और गोली मारो, लड़के ने गोली चला दी थी। शहीद हो गए ।
सलामी के बाद शव को परिवार वालों को सौंप दिया गया। साथ में एक चिट्ठी भी थी जिसमें कुछ ऐसा लिखा था –

Continue reading “हम इस हमले की कड़ी निंदा करते हैं। (कड़ी निंदा सन्देश )”

पिलपिलाते हुए आम लोग।

ज़िन्दगी है, ज़िन्दगी में मुलाकातें भी होती रहतीं हैं। मुलाकातें होतीं हैं तो बातें भी चल पड़तीं हैं। हम हिन्दुस्तानी राय रखने में ऐसे भी बड़े आगे हैं। राजनीति, क्रिकेट, मज़हब, चलचित्र- आप बस मुद्दा उठाइये और चार पाँच विशेषज्ञ तो आपको राह चलते मिल जाएंगे। पान थूकते, तम्बाकू चुनाते, ताश खेलते विशेषज्ञ से शायद पाठक का भी पाला पड़ा ही होगा। तेंदुलकर को किस बॉल पर क्या मारना चाहिए, ये मेरे कॉलोनी के गार्ड से बेहतर शायद ब्रैडमैन को भी ना मालूम हो। Continue reading “पिलपिलाते हुए आम लोग।”

The Master Story Tellers

A few days ago during the Bengaluru Poetry Festival, I was almost done for the day when the Master of Ceremony announced that the next event was going to be a performance by Padma Bhushan Teejan Bai. Only the mention of Padma Bhushan made me stay back. When Teejan Bai began with her Pandavani, I was happy that I stayed back. Although I barely understood the language, she was so fascinating and inspiring with her songs. It was one of those moments when you realize that certain arts are so powerful that they appeal to you breaking through the barriers of language. Continue reading “The Master Story Tellers”

Who is policing the Police?

It’s 15th August. Hum your favorite patriotic tune, speak about the achievements of the Government of the day, talk of pride in our culture and history, and proudly flaunt our progress as a society. Close your eyes and sleep. Happy Independence Day!

Or wake up! Look into the problems, discuss what is eating us from inside, find treatment for the termites of the system, struggle, fail, struggle again, fail, rise again, fight, bring a change! It’s 15th August. Justify the ‘Independence’ in that clichéd  ‘Happy Independence Day’!

You can skip this article if you would rather like to follow the first method. If you are ready for a long-drawn battle, read on.

Continue reading “Who is policing the Police?”

Orwell on Gandhi

To judge somebody you haven’t ever met can be a daunting task. To judge somebody on the basis of what the person has done or written can be a miscarriage of fairness. Political heroes or villains are primarily judged in time by their actions in public view and their writings if available. This is to say for commentators who haven’t met the person. How your actions are judged depends largely on the media of the time as well.

If I may, I would point you to the essay – ‘Reflections of Gandhi‘ by George Orwell. Why? Because his observations are as objective as they can get. In my opinion the essay stands out for a couple of things –

1. As the title suggests, the essay is indeed a reflection on Gandhi. The observations are so fluidly presented that it often feels like Orwell is talking to himself oblivious of our presence around him. He is not a great fan of Gandhi, neither is he a hater who can’t see beyond the aesthetics of the man. This puts him in a unique position.

2. Through his other essays, his hatred for any kind of imperialism is quite evident. However, since he knew the British ways too, he could look at Gandhi from the other side of the fence and was still in harmony with the dreams of free India that Gandhi nurtured.

George Orwell wrote his essay on Gandhi in 1949, a year after he was dead. He derives most of his ideas about the man – Gandhi from his autobiographical work My Experiments With Truthand other articles Mr Gandhi wrote for the press of the time. Mr. Orwell himself having lived a few years in the colonial Indian subcontinent, had a fair awareness of the situation back here. In addition, he was a prominent political observer and commentator of the time and hence must have judged Mr. Gandhi via his actions, interviews, and media interactions. What Mr. Orwell has written about Gandhi is of paramount importance and has been rightly placed at No 2 in the list of Greatest essays of Orwell as judged by Pulitzer prize winning writer Michael Hiltzik. The commentaries in our own country over Gandhi have been largely either biased highly in favor of the man or extremely against him. The Marxists and the so called Ambedkarites can’t contain their hatred for the man. The Indian National Congress though has nothing in common with the original Gandhi, is religiously exploiting the last name that they actually got from Mr. Feroze Ghandy (Do not get surprised here, many actually believe Mahatma Gandhi and present Gandhi scion are related.). If Mahatma Gandhi had the copyright to the surname Gandhi and had actually disallowed the usage of it, Mr. Rahul Gandhi would have been called Rahul Ghandy today and Mahatma Gandhi could have been spared some unfair posthumous embarrassment. The BJP has been trying to appropriate Mr. Gandhi in its own way and have been quite successful in leaving congress with nothing but shrill calls of ‘He-Is-Not-Yours’ and ‘You-Are-The-killers-Of-Gandhi’! This was not entirely unexpected given the predilection of the Congress party over the surname rather than the Gandhian way of life and politics. When you don’t feed your dog well, some day your neighbor will!

 

One important question that I have asked myself is whether the essay is prejudiced. Largely no, but there are enough signs of prejudices to be detected by any reader who has followed Orwell and his life for some time. Orwell’s own lifestyle has an effect on the essay and at times he digresses for the sake of satirical declarations that are hallmarks of his writings. However, such utterances are rare and the piece remains rational for the most part.

Orwell goes on to ponder upon the extent to which Gandhi was responsible for India’s freedom and counts many reasons that could have been responsible. He doesn’t give a judgement and says – “But if, by 1945, there had grown up in Britain a large body of opinion sympathetic to Indian independence, how far was this due to Gandhi’s personal influence? And if, as may happen, India and Britain finally settle down into a decent and friendly relationship, will this be partly because Gandhi, by keeping up his struggle obstinately and without hatred, disinfected the political air? That one even thinks of asking such questions indicates his stature.

Orwell would have celebrated his 113th year on 25th June had he been alive. His bio headline is perhaps a signature to the eccentricity of his life – Born in Motihari, Bihar and Died in London, United Kingdom. Mr. Orwell has been one of my favorite writers for some time now and Mahatma Gandhi will remain a Hero I shall admire all my life. Though they might stand diametrically opposite to each other on the clocks of life and lifestyle, both of them had their own fallacies. However what they achieved in one lifetime makes the fault-lines almost invisible. My only regret is that while I can read and decide what Orwell thought of Gandhi, I have no way of knowing what Gandhi thought of him. I wonder what took Mr. Orwell so long to write about Gandhi. Sometimes it needs a death to trigger those thoughts that we keep pushing to the next day. Sadly, Orwell didn’t live much longer either. He passed away in 1950. I would have wished him a few more happy years for his life on his birthday.

To be or Not to be a Victim

Long ago in a country called India, there lived a girl called Nirbhaya. She was gang-raped and left to die. Enraged by the brutality of the incident, her country-men rose up in multitude against her offenders. They held rallies and spoke fiercely to render her justice. And then there was silence. Few years later there was a girl called Jisha in the other corner of the country who met an equally merciless fate. They woke up again to demand justice for Nirbhaya and Jisha. Then again silence took over them. Caught up amidst these alternating periods of voices, noises and radio silences, the Nirbhayas and Jishas never found an ending to their stories, forget about a happy ending. Continue reading “To be or Not to be a Victim”

Yaamam- The Fragrance of The Night

“Time heals everything”, say the wise. Does it? Well, I know not for sure. But what I do know is that there are a few others apart from time that can heal at least something if not everything. For instance, a long walk in the rain, a soulful conversation with a complete stranger, a journey to nowhere and finally my all-time favorite, the night in all its glory. Night, like death is an equivalent to the universal truth, because darkness brings out the true colors of everyone. The world wears a pretense through the day, waits for the sun go down and the lights to go on for that is when the real spectacle begins. It is in the silence of the night that most of us find the strength to take off our masks, listen to our own voice and see who we really are. Continue reading “Yaamam- The Fragrance of The Night”