Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ridicule of Hindu Religion

It was breakfast time at Semiramis Intercontinental hotel in Cairo, this place becomes a UN gathering with hoard of tourists from all over the world. This time, a middle-aged lady from Venezuela was sitting next to me. She could neither speak nor understand English. All she could make out from our conversation that I was from India and kept on asking me if I was Buddhist. She had not heard about Hinduism and it was futile even to discuss about the same.

Even in the Gulf states that has dominant presence of India and Indians, awareness of Hindu religion is only through Hindi Movies. Most common people associate Hindu with Hindi. in Arabic, India is referred as Hind. Any discussion on world religion often covers Islam, Christianity, Judaism and sometimes Buddhism. Hindu religion is definitely not on high recall list. When I mention of me being Hindu – it does bring an element of surprise of their utter ignorance about Hinduism. The fault is not theirs, Hindu religion has never been vocal in propagating the religion nor it received any royal patronage the way Islam, Christianity or Buddhism got from state sponsorship. Moreover, since Independence, India has been vociferous in proclaiming a secular country to the rest of the world and in that enthusiasm often provided generous leverage to minority religions. Despite onslaught of foreign invasion over centuries, If Hindu religion has largely remained intact it is not just due to its inherent strength and appeal but also to its adaptability in assimilating various divergent religious thoughts, ideas and practices. In fact, it is difficult to delineate between a culture, philosophy and religion when it comes to certain practice or norms in Hindu religion.

These days world situation seem to have polarized on religious lines, but I still feel Hindu religion need not change its gears in terms of its advocacy and promotion. But what pains and hurts me most is the manner in which Hindi movie and advertisement industry ridicules Hindu religion, their priests, worshippers and the worshipping environment. So often in a movie, Hindu temple precinct is shown as a safe cache of firearms, saffron robed yogi as an accomplice of a villain who is involved in every nefarious activities. Can any Hindi movie portray Muslim Cleric or Mosque in similar manner ? Even an innocuous advertisement of incense sticks would show romance of youngsters while Puja is being performed. Can they dare to show anything like that while Namaz is being recited ? I think Hindus over the years have become tolerant to many such skewed portrayals. Thousands of years of magnanimity and flexibility of Hindu Religion practitioners may have influenced most Hindus in becoming moderate. But does it mean they need to be so docile to accommodate any cynical and wrong portrayal of their religion in their stride. It is true some of controversial personalities like current Shankaracharya, Chandraswami, and Dhirendra Bramhachari have helped media with their glamorous deeds but there were also others like Ramkrishna Paramahans, Swami Vivekananda, and Arbindo whose work have never been projected.

I am not staunch Hindu conformist but I do feel sad the way Hindu religion is portrayed in Hindi movie industry. As Hindi movie gets more popular across the world, so is the chance of people forming a skewed opinion of Hindu priests, yogis, and saints? I would rather have people not just from Venezuela but also from nearby region be ignorant of Hindu religion than form a wrong impressions .

Friday, October 21, 2005

Anagram

Whats in a name ?

Scrabble was popular game in school days but it was frustrating not to get high scores with poor stock of vocabulary. Later interest shifted to cross word puzzles – thanks to evening newspapers like Mid Day and Afternoon. Anagrams didn’t interest much till internet came and brought out those wonderful gizmos – anagram generators. Now it’s indeed a fun play with words.

Someone once said, "All the life's wisdom can be found in anagrams” So true. !!

Put your name in Anagram Generator “http://www.wordsmith.org/ “ and see amazing results. You can even tell this generator to choose number of words, number of syllables in a particular word or even begin with a particular word. This is just fun.

Here are some mischievous, fascinating, philosophical anagrams: :

The Morse code : Here come dots
The Detectives : Detect Thieves
Eleven plus two :Twelve plus one
Debit card :Bad credit
Animosity :Is No Amity
Astronomer Moon starer
Conversation Voices rant on
The Country Side : No City Dust Here
President Clinton of the USA :To copulate he finds interns
Princess Diana :Ascend in Paris
Evangelist : Evil's Agent
Halley's Comet :Shall yet come
Mother-in-law :Woman Hitler
A decimal point :I'm a dot in place
Dormitory :Dirty room
Payment received :Every cent paid me
A Telephone Girl : Repeating "Hello"
Allied Force : Oil-led farce
Desperation :A rope ends it
The eyes :They see
The earthquakes :That queer shake
Election results Lies : let's recount
The Morse Code : Here Come Dots
Bill Gates :I get balls !!
Year Two Thousand :A Year to Shut Down
Woody Allen :Lewd loony
Marriage :A Grim Era
Slot machines: Cash lost in 'em
The Hurricanes :These churn air
The public art galleries : Large picture halls, I bet
It's ironical that word "anagram' does not have any anagram.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Earthquake and TV reporting

What would be the reaction of viewers if they were subjected to live images of disfigured faces of innocent kids who are buried under earthquake ravaged concrete slabs. Would it churn viewer’s intestine out of disgust or create empathy to be of any help to these innocent victims? I faced this dilemma as I was watching Geo TV this morning as I was getting to leave for work.

Since yesterday, GEO, NDTV are doing commendable job of covering earthquake that has caused huge sufferings on both sides of Kashmir. But is it necessary for Geo TV to describe the humiliation and subjugation of helpless human beings to fury of nature in gruesome detail? Could they not edit the contents of graphic images or at least blur the faces of those unfortunate souls. There is no denying about courage of media in covering an event by reaching inaccessible places with camera crew but does it portray their professionalism by projecting live coverage of broken limbs, shattered faces, blood soaked bodies?

What are they trying to achieve? Triumph of journalistic spirit or sympathy among TV viewers?

Yesterday a discussion with elite panels with an aim of soliciting financial support ended up in having a presenter deluging himself with personal feelings so much, so that content of his reporting was lost in his teary-eyed appeals

I fear such reporting would only make people switch over the other channels.

my father

Today is my fathers b’day.

It was August 8th 1999, he breathed his last and transcended to another altar. I was with him when it happened, literally till his heart rate started dwindling and ECG became a flatline. That incident i will never forget for the rest of my life.

We all were been told by doctors that the end would come after all the medical efforts were exhausted to pull him out from fatal onslaught of acute pancreatitis (it’s irony that he inflicted from this disorder despite being teetotler all his life).

ICU at Breach candy hospital is strict in terms of hygeine and discipline. No one is allowed to enter outside visiting hours. It was afternoon and all relatives were dozing in the outside chamber. Suddenly I was awakened by a jolt. This does happen to me on and off. I was told that missing a heart beat does that. I don’t know if I missed a heartbeat this time but I did have a courage to open an ICU door and ask headnurse about my father’s health despite a fear of possible rebuke by her for an unapproved entry. She was engrossed in her work but as soon as she saw me, she asked me to call the near and dear ones as the end would be approaching soon. It was as if I made her realize that the final moment could have been slipped from her attention.

When we entered the room, all curtains were rolled in with nurse’s one hand on my father's wrist to measure the pulse and one eye on watch. Heart rate was hovering around 40 but as soon as we entered, it started plunging downwards. I was too dazed to see the clinical death approaching in steadying faschion with all human endaver succumbing to god’s will. My father was under the ventilator support and sedation so the end was prominent by his vital signs than any other physical pain. I had seen cases where a flat line of heart rate was resucitated with artifical respiration, pounding of chest by fist and elctrical shock. Nothing of this happened here.

It was a culmination to his struggle of 11 days during which he showed signs of dramatic recovery only to plunge into a situation of hallucination. In last few days, he only reacted by movement of his eyeballs to audible instructions. His tangible recognition of my brother was his last physical reaction that he demonstrated. My brother’s coming all the way across the continent was worth just for this event.

One never knows the meaning of the word 'loss' until you lose somone in the family. That person is part of your existence and loss of physical presence is difficult to fill the void. But it may sound strange, loss of physical space is taken by all past memories that refuse to dim. If at all, they become more vivid in years to come. I still ache for my father but somehow he seems to be very much part of my existence. Perhaps, philosophical approach over last few years have enabled to accept every loss with poise and equilibrium.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ramadan

Ramadan is here !! By far the most important event in the middle east.
Everyone looks forward to Ramadan , be it Islamic believers or otherwise. For muslims, it is special because the Quran was first revealed to the prophet during Ramadan but for others, going home at 2.30pm itself is big enough reason to rejoice.
Meaning of ' Ramadan' as 'parched thirst' is indeed a very apt term Those who are accoustomed to scorching heat of middle east in summer can understand the feeling of 'parched thirst'. Ramadan every year advances by 11 days, so one can have Ramadan practically every month of Gregorian calendar including sweltering summer.
Being in middle east gives an opportunity to understand Ramdan beliefs, know the festivities and its impact on social behavior. Concept and philosophy of holy month of Ramadan is very similar to one in Hindusi. Both religions- despite their divergence in practising seems to converge on the importance of fasting. Both agree that fasting leads to an attunement with the Absolute by establishing a harmonious relationship between the body and the soul. Islam states that fasting trains ones mind and the body to endure and harden up against all hardships, to persevere under difficulties and not give up. Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam; the others being faith, prayer, charity and the pilgrimage. Beauty of Ramadan is not just about the abstinence from food, drink, cigarettes, and sexual relations during the daytime but a path of practicing restraint – goodwill to others, comfort and joys and an empathy with those who go to sleep without meal. According to Hindu philosophy, food means gratification of the senses and to starve the senses is to elevate them to contemplation. "When the stomach is full, the intellect begins to sleep. Wisdom becomes mute and the parts of the body restrain from acts of righteousness.” Both religions converge on the belief that fasting is not only a part of worship, but a great instrument for self-discipline too. Pangs of hunger that one experience during fasting make one think and extends one's sympathy towards the destitute that often go without food.

However, in recent times, believers of both religions practice the act of fasting in their own convenient way. Most Hindu fasting believers often eat sumptuous carbohydrates that have high calories and energy content. Some Muslim believers convert almost day into night, by eating all night and lying low all through the day. Inactivity during the day takes its toll on business. Most offices reduce working hours by almost half. Many companies and factories factor Ramadan in their yearly plan as 'dead' month. Some people with hunger pain become restless, resulting into agitation, fight on frivolous issues. Road accidents shoot up in Ramadan. Cars are often driven at reckless speed in the evening to rush home for food invite gory accidents. Atmosphere in the evening is electrifying 'Iftar' – break of fast - turns into a huge marketing event with lavish buffet spreads by most hotels. Pizza Hut offers an unlimited pizza for about 17 Dirhams or 2 UK Pounds!. Malls are open until 1am, night galore in 'Shisha Tents' till 3am with people smoking on different flavors. Bars and Nightclubs are filled with revelers but without any music.

I plan to practice fasting during Ramadan with 12 hours without food and water and just a normal meal in the evening. I am sure it will serve all the purpose prescribed by both religions but am more keen not be vulnerable for erratic driving and lethargic lifestyle.