Saturday, August 24, 2013

Defining Spiritual Atheism

I only knew of Danny Boyle as a director who made the movie The Slumdog Millionaire. Until recently curiosity rang a bell in my head and I decided to read more about this guy. I hopped on to his profile from the Slumdog Millionaire's wiki link. Of all his achievements and beliefs, what caught my attention was a term that very much sounded like an oxymoron to me. It was "Spiritual atheist". How can a person be an atheist and believe in the sacred supreme being at the same time? Until I googled to find more. Wikipedia defines a spiritual atheist as a person who self-identifies a life stance of spirituality that rejects traditional organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Do Sisters really need an yearly guarantee of protection on Rakhi?

While channel surfing a few day ago, I happened to see the new Idea advertisement where in a girl on a two wheeler stops at a check post and asks for directions. A traffic policeman guides her with a waver of his hands and in a heavy Jat accent, whereby she takes note that the wrist of this cop is bare on the occasion of Rakhi. She questions him as to why is a Rakhi on his wrist missing to which he replies that he is on duty and couldn't go and meet his sister.She in turn dictates her terms and ties a rakhi around his wrist. In a moment of emotional outpouring he realizes that he has nothing to give to her as a gift and in turn pesters her to save his number for any kind of help in the future. Then the Idea jingle plays in the background and it all comes to a happy ending.
Now for all those who do not know what this festival Rakhi is all about, Wikipedia goes on to say that it is a Hindu festival where in the central ceremony involves the tying of a rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. The festival is primarily celebrated in the northern parts of India, and often I wonder what about South Indians and the brothers and sisters in the other parts of the world? Since they don't commemorate this festival, are the women out there always at risk and how do their brothers protect them if a mishap happens, in the absence of a rakhi? For that matter, do women who always need to be protected as sisters, wives, mothers and girl friends?  You can read more about the festival here

Facts about Rakshabandhan

Yama, the lord of death, was blessed with eternity as his sister Yamuna tied up a Rakhi thread on his wrist. Since that time the festival of Raksha Bandhan is associated with tying of Rakhi thread.
Lord Krishna was left with a bleeding finger, after Shishupal's death. To stop bleeding, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, tore a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna's wrist. Touched by her concern, Krishna declared that he would protect her and promised to repay the debt manifold, and spent the next 25 years of his life doing just that.
Queen Karmavati of Chittor had sent a Rakhi to Humayun to protect her from Bahadur Shah. Humayun, then engaged in an expedition against Bengal, turned back to carry out his sacred brotherly duty and tried to protect her but was too late. Chittor had already fallen and the Rani had immolated herself in the Rajput custom of Jauhar.
Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet used the occasion of the Raksha Bandhan as a community festival and gave a call to tie a rakhi amongst all Hindus and Muslims so as to maintain peace and harmony between them and spread the nationalist spirit among people from different ethnic backgrounds.

These are the fictional stories that support the observance of this festival but are there any written historical manuscripts to ratify this practice. What happened thousands of years ago cannot be held true for today's times. Only if all this was on paper in the holy books of Hindus or in the old manuscripts, this practice could have perhaps become more justified. For that matter any festival that occurs on the calendar every year, much like common cold makes me wonder, are these blind practices or do these rituals really hold meaning?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

16 th August 2013

Yesterday was a bad day for Delhites.  Along with the incessant rains and bottleneck traffic jams, the blue line of the metro stopped working after 11 am! Every passenger keeping their eyes and ears open waited with bated breath for the train to come. Many like me were grinning and bearing it with an itching desire to bang our head against the wall, as every second announcement only embittered the enthusiasm while the train was nowhere to be seen.

And in the midst of this chaos, it was amusing to share a word with random fellow women passengers, since waiting in long queues wasn't a fun filled exercise.

Two of them complained about how women leaders like Sheila Dixit had ruined this country. They went back in history to unearth the fossils of the past and didn't even spare Mrs Indira Gandhi. They were of the opinion that women can't lead from the front and whenever they have, this country has gone to dumps.  
I don't blame them, for Madame G or Sheela aunty are not women with the kind of leadership qualities that anyone on planet earth would want to emulate. They believed in the power of the broom and a certain Kejriwal. Poor women, their eyes were glittering like marbles in the sun, when they were speaking highly of him.
While a fifty something aunty, who got into the connecting metro amidst much pushing and pulling couldn't stay silent for a minute the moment I started cribbing to her, about how a day's rain and VVIP movements can spell havoc in the city. Thereby began her stories, where she yelled at the top of her voice and trumpeted about how her daughter had highhandedly caught a robber a few days ago while puffing in pride about why NRI's still prefer Indian brides and not those brought up on foreign shores! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Those were the best days of my life, when lunch time broke opened to a red box, with sandwiches neatly laid  vertically and horizontally and colored vegetables peeping out of the loaves of bread. I didn't like roti but always asked mom to pack noodles for me. I loved the way I could slurp it into my mouth. She mostly settled on the sandwich which tasted stale on my tongue until some day, those wriggly noodles would appear miraculously like a rabbit from a hat.

Those were the best days of my life when the elaichi flavored Kismi toffee and the orange candy were my favorite delicacies on a day that ended with a stroll with dad and Roger.   

Those were the best days of my life when a girl called G who was ousted by everyone for wearing the shortest skirt in school made friends with me. And we got along like a house on fire. From doting on Dino Morea whom she raved about to holding the fort with me when my other class mates called me "kali" to teaching me to let my hair down. She was the first person to tell me that I was beautiful and being fair wasn't always synonymous to being beautiful.

Those were the best days of my life when my spoken English heavily twisted and tortured by a malayali tongue, didn't bother G and she made every earnest effort to correct the pronunciation. She was my first and only spoken English teacher.

Those were the best days of my life when my younger brother grew as tall as a banyan tree and everyone in school was afraid to stand upto his shoulders. Although his antics always got me into trouble (for being Miss Goody Two shoes who could never ever be wrong) but never did he let any of my guy class mates escape after a round of tattering taunts directed at me. The possessive brother he was, always ready to ward of the devils who teased with a nick name that I will never forget "Touch me not"!

Those were the best days of my life when watching WWE which was then called WWF was an evening exercise we didn't miss out on. Zee Tv then crossed the threshold in India and "Junglee Toofan Tyre puncture", "Banegi Apni baat" and "Hip Hip Hurray" became our favorite shows. Cable tv kept us busy after homework and two hours of play.

Those were the best days of my life, when invitations for birthday parties weren't glittering gold rimmed cards that are now distributed as wedding invitations. There were no formal invitations, just birthday parties which we were expected to attend without fail. They were synonymous to pastries and gifts which were always returned, and never were taken into count. There were no glossy restaurants and coffee shops, only the coziness of homes, the doors of which were always open for friends.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bhag Milkha Bhag---The Story of the Flying Sikh

This review comes late, but as they say, better late than never. Happened to watch Bhag Milkha Bhag two Saturdays ago. It is very unusual of me to go to a theatre to watch a Bollywood flick, but this time around Farhan Akhtar and a biopic in the offing did the trick. And, I really wanted to catch up on a good movie after having seen English Vinglish on my own at the PVR with only a coke can as a convoy.
The movie talks of Milkha Singh, the Indian athlete, who ran away from his home post partition while bearing witness to his family being butchered (the images of a Pakistani soldier with a black cape riding on a horseback and slaughtering his family reminds the viewer of the same! Also it is repeated too many times which was one of the factors that added to the run time) and how he ends up in a refugee camp becoming a coal thief and a hooligan. To how he fights his inner demons and goes on to become a record holder.

Particularly I would not want to talk of world records since Milkha Singh never had one to his credit and neither a gold at the World championships. These being two of the many flaws that the movie has. The movie is a flashback narrated by Milkha's first coach who goes on to word every minute from his life with dainty detailing. What amused me in the first place was how could another man know so much about Milkha's life without having lived it himself! For example how did he know that Milkha's sister was a martial rape victim? How on earth he could recall every second of that fated mishap without having being there in person? That scene chiseled into my jugular vein, the moans and scary shadows pictured were a larger than life reality . How much more will Indian women suffer in the name of honor and traditions and for how long? These are tough questions, since martial rape isn't a crime in this country called India!