Monday, February 20, 2017

Invigorating kinship

The good old busy-buzzy joint family days could never have imagined the near-solitary nuclear family times.
And most nuclear families could not have imagined Global Families :-)
Like a time when a family of three or four people would be spread over say, Asia, Europe, America, and Australia ... !!!

Talking of family dinner conversations, or that lazy Sunday get together over a brunch feels like a romantic folklore these days.
No regrets though, if one can still keep alive those beautiful feelings within and spend "quality" time with one another whenever possible.
And once in a while even make conscious efforts to plan a holiday together.

Like the river keeps flowing, so do lives ...
And so does Time ...
But Time does not pass without educating and enlightening people.
It leaves its imprint over their circumstances, their friend circle, their likes / dislike, their life styles.
In fact over their entire being.
Hence when a family comes together for a few days, after a couple of years, they realize that while they seem to be the same individuals, yet interestingly they are not the same.

When you have lived away from one another for a few years and then come together for a few days, it could demand a conscious effort in understanding and accepting one another.
Go ahead braced with an extra pinch of politeness.
Be ready to reassure your kin with a friendly pat on the back.
Try to light up their lives with shining encouraging smiles ...
And above all, carry a silky sheen of empathy to let the shortcomings of one another slide away smoothly so that time thus spent results in stronger bonds of love and kindness and better family ties in years that follow :-)

May every family be more blessed and healed than before and learn to accept the imperfections of one another without grudges.
May genuine love, peace and mutual respect for one another grow and nurture the family foundation with the passage of time.

In conclusion, I think holidaying together after every couple of years is a therapeutic exercise and an invaluable investment for the family, not just today, but it would help in initiating the building and fortifying of healthy relations in future, and therefore to imagine secure long innings of togetherness for coming generations would only be a fair desire of a heart whose desires are often unfair too ;-) :-D


Friday, November 25, 2016

Guide

Film "Guide" completed fifty years of its release in 2015.
An unrivalled, ahead-of-its-time film, "Guide", as we all know was based on a novel of the same name by reputed writer R K Narayan, directed by the legendary Vijay Anand and produced by Dev Anand.
Vijay Anand has also contributed to the screenplay of "Guide".
There was also a 120-minute US version written by Pearl S Buck which was produced and directed by Tad Danielewski.
"Guide" was screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, all of forty two years after its release.

From the conviction and faith the producer-director team had in the story to Waheeda Rahman accepting to play the female lead, "Guide" has been a very unique and special experience.
Special not only for the makers, but for the fans as well.

It is not just another film.
It is an experience that leaves the audience enriched, pensive and entertained.
The songs of "Guide" have been among the best in Bollywood history, remain unsurpassed in flavour and popularity even after half a century.
The music (by none other than Sachin Dev Burman), the lyrics (by legendary poet philosopher Shailendra), ... and their presentation ... all superlatively class apart ... !!!
And totally wowsome are Waheeda Rahman's dances, not to forget her amazingly accomplished portrayal of Rosie!!!

An interesting memory associated with one of the songs of "Guide" was narrated by Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.
He said in one of his television interviews that Pancham Da being a good friend of his coerced him into playing the tabla for the song "Mo se chhal kiye jaaye ... " although Pandit Ji had left playing tabla and was concentrating on Santoor.

I have heard Waheeda ji saying
"Dev was so comfortable and secure in his performance that not once did he try to even remotely overshadow my character in the film."

I saw "Guide" after more than a decade of it's release.
In those days the sprawling lawns of our Colony Club used to fill up with the residents every Saturday night.
The weekly film show used to be a much awaited event for most of the people.
And of course "Guide" was House(Lawn)Full !!!

A family friend who was staying about thirty kilometers away, had seen the film nine times already, but came over all the way specially to see it yet another time.
I am convinced that in doing so he was not exaggerating his reverence for "Guide".
He was doing exactly what I have been doing ever since.

"Guide" is an overwhelming and unparalled phenomenon.
From the beginning "Guide" was special.
Everything about it was so different from the films we were used to seeing in those days ....
It was a deeply engrossing saga of complicated human relationships woven with incredible sensitivity and ease.
Who can forget the philosophy of "Wahaan kaun hai tera .... "
The grandeur of "Piya to se naina laagey re ... "
The pathos of "Din dhal jaaye ... "

An ardent fan of "Guide" has mentioned this following small bit of interesting information on Facebook, and I am copy-pasting it here :
The conversation between a lesser known actor Dilip Dutt (a regular in B R Ishara films) and Dev Saheb is memorable and remains heart touchingly profound even to this day :
Dilip Dutt : "'kya baat hein Sir aaj akele hee pii rahein hein "
Dev Anand : "'Batein karne ko itna taras raha thaa Mani kee socha thodi pii kar apne aap se kuchh kahooNga "
Aur ...Mani ki chaal ... that small shot from behind ... when he leaves ... 
ek taraf ye aur doosri taraf puri picture "Guide". Am exagerating,? 
But not as much as I appear to ... " !!!
And another one readily agrees :
"Yes ... also captivating is the moment when he keeps the unfinished Glass on the table and looks upwards where he can see Waheedaji ...
Thanks to Vijay Anand, Dilip Datt would be remembered in History "


And Dev Anand, the gentleman that he was, saw to it that even the smallest actor would not be ignored.
Such is the undying, unfading magic of  "Guide" that everything about it touches the soul.
Everyone knows they are watching a film.
But what a deeply moving, spiritually enriching and genuinely soul-stirring experience it is to watch Dev Saheb absorbing in himself the ultimate enlightenment!!!
The unadulterated bliss of it all was so real and so comforting, its aura engulfing and hypnotizing the audience completely ....

That was the kind of honesty with which The Great Anand Brothers created this legend on screen ... A stunning tale of Real Eternal Beauty !!!

When the film ended I knew once was not enough ...
Must have seen it countless times after that, but every time there is something enriching and refreshing to discover ... to learn ... to relive ...
The "Guide" never ceases to guide.

They say you live only once. But if you can do it right, once is enough.
With one matchless masterpiece, Dev Anand has ensured that he would be remembered for many many more decades not only as a heart warming romantic hero, but as an intense and compellingly magnificent actor film maker too !!!
He is ageless and timeless.
With "Guide", he has attained immortality.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Demonetization: A financial and human (mis)stroke

The day I withdraw my kharcha-paani from the bank, I usually go straight from the bank to a moderately good eatery to give myself a treat.
There is always a tussle between a plate of hot upma with steaming masala chaai or chicken falafel with lots of hummus accompanied by the warmth of that unfailing companion:
The ever-uplifting garam chaai ki pyali.
But either way it is a sumptuously rejuvenating experience which I look forward to.

This is followed by window shopping.
And if there is something really gorgeous (and reasonably priced too) I might even spend up to fifteen hundred rupees to add it to my wardrobe.
This is the "awaragardi" I enjoy very much twice in a month. I am bad with savings. So I withdraw strictly as much as I require. I cannot hoard.
Clothes, food, furniture, cosmetics, accessories etc etc , if they are more than what I can use, I give them away.

So, it seems much as usual, but comes back like coincidence that the afternoon of this 8 November, I withdrew five thousand rupees from the bank, went to my usual haunt and settled down comfortably with chaai and upma.
It was a usual afternoon.
The place was fairly (but not uncomfortably) busy.
As usual the shops around were having a steady flow of window-shoppers and buyers.
I also strolled in and out of the shops looking for nothing in particular.
Soon enough some lovely long skirts had me drooling over them.
Mulling over which one to buy, it occurred to me that I should have a look at the shops in Elco Market too.
So postponed the decision for the next day, and I came back home.

Everything usual took a turn for the unusual with a message from my sister.
"Saw the news?" she asked me.
This actually very unusual because we hardly watched news on television for the past many many months.
I asked her What the news was, but No reply came.
Meantime my boys started discussing on WhatsApp if there was enough cash with each one of us?

Now the horror of the News that my sister had mentioned started unfolding...
The five thousand rupees I had withdrawn hours earlier were in the 500 denomination.
So I was now sitting with ten notes of 500 which were rendered worthless by "the boldest decision in the financial history of Independent India"
(This is how PayTM hailed this disastrous announcement in its advertisement)
The next day banks were to remain closed.

By God! was the common man prepared for the chaos to which the banks opened ...
For the common man, as for the bank employees, this totally unexpected and unimaginable financial jerk has been nothing short of a horrific nightmare.
The fallout of it all has been huge and multidimensional.
It has unsettled numerous innocent human lives in more ways than any layperson could have imagined.

But the planners of this so called surgical strike are supposedly among the best brains in the country.
They should have foreseen.
And even if they did not have that kind of a vision, they should at least now not turn a blind eye to the suffering of the underprivileged.

However instead of bringing back a sense of stability and calm to the common man, there have been theatrics and counter theatrics by the political parties and a sorry display of complete absence of any sensitivity for the hardships of the masses from some upper classes.

As things unfold it is becoming more and more heart breaking to see how miserable people have suddenly become not so much because some people are facing real financial problems, but more so watching the soullessness of people who seem untouched by this mock-stroke.

Ismat Chughtai had written in Urdu some lines when my brother had asked for her autograph years ago.
I don't remember the exact text, but it was something like:
" Duniya mein do tarah ke log hotey hain:
Amiir aur Ghariib
Duniya mein do tarah ke mazhab hotey hain:
Amiir aur Ghariib
Duniya mein do tarah ke mulk hotey hai:
Amiir aur Ghariib
Duniya mein do tarah ke nazariye ( points of view ) hotey hain:
Amiir aur Ghariib "
May I humbly add a small heartfelt line to her memorable ones:
Demonetization has yet again categorized people into the same two types: 
Amiir aur Ghariib


And as the aftermath continues this following message someone shared on a social networking site sums up the crisis with much logic and depth:

"DeMonetisation reminds me of the Sheep
who cheered when their leader promised them
a blanket each.

Till one sheep asked *where will the wool come from??*😳😳"

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Peace And Love This Diwaali

"There is not enough darkness in this whole world to put out the light of even one small candle."
Likewise there is not enough hatred in this world that can put out the light of love.

Hatred may raise its head often.
But every time it will be overwhelmed and over powered by love ... 
That is the strength of love. 
That is the light of love.
It makes Peace visible and within reach.

An individual is only as good as the Peace and Light s/he radiates.
Hold the Lamp of Love in your hands.
Make way through the dense darkness ...
Light The Path ahead ...
Sooner or later everyone will follow ...

Lighting diyas of love, hope and peace this Diwaali and Wishing everyone a prosperous and Peaceful festive season

And as I do this I am reminded of a beautiful couplet by Mir Taqi Mir:
“Uss ke farogh-e-husn se jhamke hain sab mein nuur
Sham-e-Haram ho ya ho diya Somnath ka” 

Dear Friends and Family! Happy Diwali to all of us :-)




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ashoora

I have not read or academically explored Islamic History.
Whatever Islam I practice is from what I have seen in my family plus my own understanding of God's universal message through His countless Messengers.
So my perception is that The essence of That Divine Message remains the same.
But the Time and Place, Language and Ethnicity are obviously different.
Hence we see that while we celebrated the Victory of Truth and Purity over Evil, Vijayadashmi, yesterday, today, the of 10th Muharram, (Aashoora), we are remembering the ultimate sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Husain and his companions.
Also there are some lesser known facts associated with Aashoora (Day of Remembrance) that I came to know through google search on the subject.

Wonder if Muslims generally know that Ashoora marks the day that Moses and his followers (a.k.a The children of Israel / Bani Israel) were saved from Pharaoh by God by creating a path in the Red Sea.
Other forgotten, but very important commemorations include Prophet Noah leaving the Ark and Prophet Muhammad's arrival in Medina.
All these three events being significant victories of Truth over Evil.
Have a Peaceful Blessed Muharram Friends 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

In Search of a peaceful vocabulary.

*"चाकू.. खंजर.. तीर* और,
*तलवार..* लड़ रहे थे.. कि...,

कौन.. *ज्यादा गहरा घाव* देता है,

*शब्द..* पीछे बैठे.. मुस्कुरा रहे थे...।"
(Chaqoo ... Khanjar ... tiir ... aur talwar Ladd rahey thay ke kaun zyada gehra ghaav deta hai ....
Shabd ( Words ) piichhey baithey muskura rahey thay )

The manner in which words and thoughts have changed over the years in daily parlance is an astonishing phenomenon.
Talking in the extreme superlative has become commonplace. Violent and at times lewd vocabulary passes off as a show of one's patriotism (I guess they call it nationalism these days) and broad mindedness.

Even the seemingly harmless and cordial Good Morning messages invoke the reader to "fight all odds", informing that "life is like war where you win some battles and you loose some battles".

An appeal for kindness also comes wrapped in violent words. It says:
" Everyone you meet is fighting a battle, Be kind ".

And this one is talking of another kind of violence:
"The hardest battle you have to fight is between who you are and who you want to be"
Or
" Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time "

And this message is supposed to highlight patience...
"Winners in Life are those who lost a few battles but continued fighting"

Good God ! So much violence even in sending out a line or two of Good Luck and Good Thoughts to someone who is dear to us.

I understand the spirit and sentiment behind such "strongly" worded messages.
They are supposed to be instant inspirations, something like instant coffee perhaps that energizes immediately. But imagine the kind of energy one imbibes from such unpleasant words in the long run.
These words stay in our mind. They have become a part of our life.

We desperately need a change in vocabulary.
Our tongue is the mirror that shows our mind, just as our eyes are the mirror that reflect our heart.

Your thoughts become your words.
Hence it is actually startling to discover this en masse preference for rough and merciless words.
When shall we realize that one has to exert extreme caution with words?

It may sound monotonously repetitive, but one must not forget that Words can hurt, Words can harm , and Words can even undress you.
But Words are good too.
They can bring peace and they can be soothing.
Words have the power to embrace you in an affectionate hug.

If Kindness inside your heart must flow through your words, then it is important to choose words that are not violent and harsh in nature.

As this Islamic Year is in its concluding month, let us pray for a Peaceful World in the coming years where both body and tongue will speak softly in words that bring harmony and understanding among all of God's Creations.

Hajj Mubarak
Eid Mubark



Sunday, August 7, 2016

तुम बेसहारा हो तो ...

Talking Peace is like preaching religion.
As is the sad irony in both cases:
It is not meant to be practiced in its essence.

One hardly comes across any glorification of Peace, except perhaps the Nobel Peace Prize.
On the other hand look at the glorification of violence.
And the amazingly potent pretexts under which violence is justified.
Most often this vicious activity of justifying murder is sheathed in holy virtues.

The loftiness of sacrifice and "bravery" in giving up one's life for a cause, never mind killing many more before one can qualify for the seventy-two-Virgin award in Heavens above.
or
The one-in-a-thousand medal of appreciation (which often comes posthumous).
There are other holy choices too.
Burn ... Beat ... Banish ...
And rape too !

Do we realize what we are doing when we buy toy Pistols, and models of tanks, fighter air crafts, soldiers etc for our four-five-six year olds?!
Are we not gifting them a world of violence at that tender age ?
Even a call to make children do well in exam comes wrapped in words like "fight", "Win" etc

Why is "resting-in-peace" easy but "living in peace " difficult ?
Any thoughts for the families who are left behind to collect the gallantry awards?
Yes! Of course ... Big bunches of flowers, Facebook Salutes, candles  ...

Some time ago I read a quote by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, which was overwhelmingly reflective and thought provoking.
He said:
Most of us have been conditioned... Since armies are legal, we feel war is acceptable;
In general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is criminal attitude.
In fact we have been brainwashed."
He further says:
"War is monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering"

Such strong and powerful words against war!
I was extremely delighted to realize that I was in such esteemed company. Because these are the thoughts that have been ringing in my mind, and beating in my heart for quite some time now.

Having found my goal, the next step was to look for a path that would lead to peace, and some rays of hope to light up this path.
As I move along this path a little ahead every day, it is turning out to be an overwhelmingly soothing and peaceful experience.

There are long rows of comforting lamps, in the form of old Hindi Film songs, that guide me through dark alleys of hatred and help me find my way to enlightenment.

Take for instance
तुम बेसहारा हो तो  ..." written by Anand Bakshi Saheb.
It is not just another film song.
It is philosophy expressed in poetry.
Philosophy of non violence and compassion, of comradeship and sharing, of spreading love instead of nurturing vindictiveness.

The words evoke a sense of tremendous positivity.
Listen to these lines:

" तुम हो एक अकेले तो 
रुक मत जाओ चल निकलो 
तुम को रास्ते में कोई 
साथी तुम्हारा मिल जाएगा "

These words have given me immense courage to stand my ground and do my bit for the cause of peace even if it is as negligible as a status on my Facebook Timeline.

Bakshi Saheb's this song also calls for finding peace inside your heart ...

"ना मिलता है प्यार बाज़ारों में
ना बिकता है चैन दुकानों में 
ढूंढ रहे हो तुम जिसको 
उसको बाहर मत ढूंढ़ो  
मन के अंदर ढूंढ़ो
प्रीतम प्यारा मिल जाएगा"

The energy of youth is enormous.
It can be used to bring about positive changes if these young minds are given healthy food for thought. But the trend is to soak their thoughts in blood and thrust upon them the burden of hate and violence, of which they have never been a part before.
The idea is to rob them of their power to think.
They don't even realize that someone is writing a deadly curse of destruction on the palms of their innocent hands.

Another couplet from the same song says:
"सब्र से जीना आसाँ होता है 
फ़िक्र से जीना मुश्किल होता है"
Meaning:
Patience (सब्र) is a trait that brings comfort, and eventually shows the right path.
But "फ़िक्र" denoting a restless / revengeful mind is like termite.
It eats into your confidence and erodes all sensibilities.
How much peace can a cycle of hate and counter hate beget anyway ?

And as far as justifying violence on the basis of Newton's action-reaction theory is concerned, I must state that life is not Science or Math.
Here neither two opposite forces attract each other nor do two negatives make one positive.

Life is a different subject.
The most important thing to remember in life is:
"If Your suffering inculcates hatred in your heart, you are a curse for yourself and for everyone around you.
But if your suffering can make you aware of and sympathetic to the suffering of others, you become the most beautiful gift from God to this world."

Let us open our hearts to the music of peace and poetry of love.
Let us keep reminding ourselves that a helping hand has blessings, smiles and peace written in the lines of its palm.