Monday, March 30, 2009

Kahlil Gibran’s ‘Al Mustafa’ through’ The Prophet’

Is ‘The Prophet’ ; a poetry, an essay, or a ‘string of philosophical beads ’? Whatever may be its form, it’s undoubtedly a celestial beauty laced with enchanting language dealt on earthly issues. What is this life all about and how it has to be cherished is what ‘Kahlil Gibran’ tells us through ‘Al Mustafa’.

For me, it’s contemporary version of ‘Sri Krishna’s Bhagvad Geeta’ and ‘Prophet Mohammad’s Quran’ that synthesizes spectrum of life’s nuances from our Birth until our Death. If I were the resident of ‘ Orphalese’ , I would have asked ‘Al Mustafa’ about Conflict, Hatred, Insecurity - the terms that are distinctly pronounced in 21st century and also some of my own favorites like Dream, Morality, Rebirth and Truth.

‘Al Mustafa’ is part of every one of us. I am not sure if I have reached my ‘Orphalese’ but my ‘Bsharri’ is definitely belonging to ‘Govt Colony of Bandra East’. Luckily for me, I do not need to wait for ‘The coming of the Ship’ to take me there. With global business, I get an opportunity to see the changing nuances of my place of origin. Kahlil Gibran through ‘Al Mustafa’ does alleviate some of the pangs of this living and makes the transition from ‘Life to Death’ more meaningful and beautiful. I too have my own world as that of ‘Kahlil Gibran’, as rich, diverse, mystical and vibrant as his, but I suffer from my limitations to portray it with opulence of art and painting. My ‘Orphalese’ is not yet reached its steady state but it does encompass interesting and fascinating personalities of ‘Rich, Noble and wise Men and Woman, Hard diligent Workers and many ‘Al Mitra’.

I would be happy if I could memorize at least three guiding principles on ‘Talking’, ‘Marriage’ and ‘Children’ – three pillars of my existence amidst Pleasure, Pain, Joy and Sorrow.

Talking: “You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts. And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, And sound is the diversion and a pastime. And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.”

Marriage: “Love one another, but not make a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but not eat from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous but let each one of you be alone. And stand together, yet not too near each other. For the pillars of the temple stand apart. And the Oak tree and cypress grow not in each other’s shadow”

Children: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but nor from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love nut not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them but see not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

Through ‘The Prophet’ and Al Mustafa , I am in love with you Kahlil Gibran and your thoughts on Love. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would be possessed. For love is sufficient unto Love.


Friday, March 27, 2009

गूडी पाडव्याच्या शुभेछ्या !!!!

‘ Today is the first day of the new year of Hindu Calendar ’ I said to my non-Indian friend . That’s nice, how do you celebrate ? '.

This put me in a fix. Despite my years of study, my inadequacy of putting across Hindu cultural symbols in English language was apparent. I tried hard to go back to my childhood days remembering colorful Gudi’s adorning various balconies and forcibly being fed something that tasted atrocious and bitter. I did my best to make physical description of ‘Gudi’ but was aware of my inability to explain it’s relevance.

Santan Prabhat has a special supplement on Gudi Padwa . Now I realize that Gudi Padwa has his origins well before return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya . Lord Brahma supposedly created the universe on this day. My bitter tasted recipe was a mix neem leaves , ajwain, gul (jaggery)and was meant to purify my blood and strengthen my body’s immune system against diseases.

A long bamboo, on the right side of the balcony (symbolises active state of the soul) with one end tied with bright green or yellow cloth adorned with brocade and a bright garlanded silver or copper goblet hung on top of the flag pole(symbolising emptying of one's ego!). A string of crystalline sugar cakes, neem leaves, a twig of mango leaves and a garland of red flowers is put over this bamboo. The end result is Gudi. ( This Marathi website explains relevance of all these items and even has a video) .

Next year, If someone asks me the same question, I am better prepared to answer it!!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kahlil to Nancy

I knew Kahlil Gibran as a great philosopher and even had read some his profound and mystical analysis of life's eternal truths. But reading ' The Prophet' is truly exhilarating. The effect would last for long time. As I was reading this book, I thought of sensuous personality from his country of origin.
I had heard her songs at most places in the middle east but did not have an idea who the singer was. On the flight from Dubai to Cairo, one of her song captivated me immensely. I memorised the tune and was determined to find out the singer . At downtown Cairo, I hummed the tune to my Egyptian friend and he said ' Nancy Ajram '. Soon, we were at the music shop to buy one of her album that had all the catchy numbers. Gautam during his visit to Dubai took fancy for her tunes. I do hope he still has that CD in his home . Nancy is seductive with melodious voice and a familiar figure on mba TV channel.

Her song 'Enta Eih' is another lovely song with great lyrics but I love the 'Maa Feesh' , the number that made me go to music shop and discover her.

Ma feesh haga tiggi kidah, Ihda habeebi kida, wirjaa' zayyi zamaan
Ya inbi ismaa'ni, ha itdalaa'ni, takhod a'aini kaman.

Ma feesh haga tiggi kidah, Ihda habeebi kida, wirjaa' zayyi zamaan
Ya inbi ismaa'ni, ha itdalaa'ni, takhod a'aini kaman.

Hebeebi araab bossi, iw bossi, boss.
Zaa'laan, iza'al.
Iza'al nossi noss.
Lahsan ha iba'aid, Aba'aid
Aah we noss we ahsib inta akeid khasraan

Akeid, Ma feesh haga tiggi kidah, Ihda habeebi kida, wirjaa' zayyi zamaan.
Ya inbi ismaa'ni, ha itdalaa'ni, takhod a'aini kaman.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ram Navmi


Thursday, March 19, 2009

'Wednesday' on Thursday

I was just rummaging the list of Hindi movies listed across different alphabets and realized list isn't that uniform. 'W' was one just alphabet and I remembered movie 'Wednesday' that won 'best screen play award'.

Image of ' Naseer on PC ' being blown from the top of Mumbai Building was the only visible image that the movie promo had projected. 'Wednesday' picked up the pace very early but soon plot broke down into various subplots. I kept wondering if this movie too was going to wind up as most recent movies that started with great promise and excitement but failed miserably. 'Wednesday' subplots did take away the focus from the 'protagonist' but smart and fast editing kept the pace alive.

What started as a quick review of a film gripped my attention to complete the screening of this movie. Anything more I say on 'Wednesday' would be unfair to this fascinating and well scripted movie and movie watchers. All I can say it deserved an award for 'screenplay'. The gap between 'Bollywood' and 'Hollywood' is definitely diminishing .


Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Akshta

जन्मदिनमिदम् अयि प्रियसखि । (Janmadinamidam ayi priya sakhe)
शान्तनो तु ते सर्वदा मुदम् ॥ (Santanotu te sarvada mudum)
प्रार्थयामहे भव शतायुषि । (Prarthayamahe bhava satayusi)
ईश्वरः सदा त्वां च रक्षतु ॥ (Isvarah sada tvam ca raksatu)

पुण्य कर्मणा किर्तिमर्जय । (Punya karmana kirtimarjaya)
जीवनं तव भवतु सार्थकम् (Jivanam tava bhavata sarthakam)
Dear Akshta,

Wish you a very happy birthday!

O dear sister! May this birthday bring auspiciousness and joy to you forever. Indeed, we all pray for your long life. May the Lord always protect you. By noble deeds, may you attain fame and may your life be fulfilled!

With Love,
Sanjana didi, Gautam dada
Kaka , Kaki & Leela Aaji
I found this greeting pretty cute. Thanks Gautam & Sanjana.

While understanding the meaning of the words , I chanced upon the website of Chinmaya Mission Dallas/Fort Worth. Gautam and Sanjana's association with Chinmaya Mission must have reconnected them to b'day greeting thoughts in Sanskrit.

This website gives a link for all Sanskrit resources. It's great to see a sincere effort being made to revive this almost defunct language. I remember giving Sanskrit Prathama examination and I was the only student in my school who failed. Those days, 'Fail' was denoted by 'Red Ink' and everyone was curious to know this specimen who fail in an exam when all other students opt for scoring high grades. But I didnt enjoy mugging some 'sholka' and 'subhasheet' without any understanding of them or it's relevance. For my secondary school exam, I chose Moghul/British History instead of Sanskrit. A subject that is great entertainer with every second page of teh book covering wars, battles, intrigue laced with colourful personalities. I may just have managed to score 60% marks compared to my other friends who didn't go below 95% But I enjoyed the 'Indian History' without the teacher and class room study.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Crumbling Pillars of American and Global Business

Iconic pillars of current empire of the world. GE, GM and Citi. All these three are benchmark indices for Dow Jones and now City is not far away from being disqualified from trading. How pathetic they look amidst the fear of devastation and ruins!

Citi share is available for cost of coke @US$ 1.02, GM share for US$1.86 little below the cost of gallon of petrol and GE share @ US$ 6.66 less than compact fluorescent floodlight bulb that it produces.

They were dream companies not just to work for but also get associated either as channel partners or customers or even as competitors.

Would they fail? I doubt because they represent the symbol of modern America. I am tempted to put all my life time savings in buying the stocks of these three. But I also thought the same for Rank Xerox, Lehmann Brothers only to see my hunch evaporate in thin air.

Washing Post article discusses two factors that catapulted these three to dizzying height of success and now the very factors that are turning out to be factors of nemesis. First is 'be financer to your customer’. Lend money and fuel the sales of your products. Sales galloped as the engine fueled by lending chain put the train of business on fast track. Now the same train is stuttering and coming to halt with lending crisis. The second factor is 'Globalization'. It was meant to spread risks, proliferate brand exploitation but now with foreign currency grappled with continuous downwards slide, global exposure is driving these behemoths on their knees. Would the management books be rewritten now?

Recent Business week
wonderfully analyzes the weight of 'Legacy Cost' of GM that is threatening to drown GM. US$ 1,600 per vehicle is the cost that GM must keep aside to look after retiree health and pension benefits ! With Legacy cost and wage agreement that is valid for another two years, GM must run their plants at 80% capacity irrespective whether they sell or not whether they make money or not . How tricky the situation is for them. This article not just provides the reasons for its failure but make an attempt to study the ramifications against the new plan of revival. I admire authors ability to study with depth and objectivity.

Y'day I heard a comment from my Japanese friend that Japan has one old men for every three productive young men and soon it would be two young for two old men. Would he be slogging his life to support old men or would he move to another country? He prefers later.

India Inc by virtue or lack of it, is immune from all three factors that are plaguing GM, GE and City. Robust domestic market, conservative lending banking system, collapse of combative unions has made them free from the factors of legacy cost, globalization and destructive financing.

Would this be new rules of the game for imaginative but fortuitous survival like slum dog?

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dirty Money and Indian Elections

In early 80’s, a criminal would loot matka dens- illegal gambling operator - around the suburbs of Mumbai. A smart move by him as this theft would never be reported to the police. He went on doing the crime until gambling syndicate in connivance of police gunned him down. I remember witnessing breathtaking bursting of firecrackers in Santacruz. I was told that the Gambling operator was celebrating this killing of this 'smart criminal'.

Last month, there was a news report of cash theft of 2.6 crores from BJP headquarters. However, no official police complaint was filed. Wonder what happened to the cash? News of Ex Minister Sukhram being sentenced for getting unaccounted cash in crores did not go beyond a day. He must be enjoying his freedom after applying for bail.

I do want to read a book by Raymond Baker - Capitalism's Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free Market. This book says ‘Since 1970, at least $5 trillion have been moved out of poorer countries to the West banking system’. There is another startling revelation that one per cent of the world's population holds more than 57 per cent of total global wealth. How much of would be of India's politician's share be? J. Cohen while reviewing this book writes " Every aspect of international affair - Be it Terrorism, drug, human trafficking, environmental degradation, income inequality, poverty, political repression - there is a trail of dirty money. Dictators need resources to pay off their political power bases and support their lavish lifestyles; terrorists need resources to acquire weapons and stealthily transfer wealth to aid allies across borders; criminals, such as poachers, drug smugglers and human traffickers need some way to stash their ill-gotten proceeds; wealthy corporations and individuals have to hide their money somewhere to avoid paying taxes and skewing the economic system further in their favor. No matter what problem you are looking at, money needs to go in, money needs to come out, and somebody has to hide it ”.

The financial activities that would lead to India's general election would never come to surface. Numerous transactions involving Havala operators, sale of benami properties and bag loads of cash ferrying to party headquarters will operate more efficiently than India's official economy channels. Media would be more preoccupied with covert symptoms of political alliances and manipulations than an attempt to discover the undercurrents of fiscal deals. But it does provide an intriguing script to blend the Arther Hailey's 'Money changer' with Arun Sadhu/Jabbar Patel's ' Simhasan

Naman Sood citing Swiss Banking Association reports top 5 nationality of depositors in territory of Switzerland are India$1891 billion , Russia $610B, China$213B ,UK $210B, $14 B and rest of the world $300B. If this is so, the time has come to covert this stashed foreign currency abroad to fund greatest election campaign that would cost US$2B (US spent US$1.8 billion) . It is no surprise that Indian Rupee always depreciates during election time. This time it has touched Rs52.00 to 1US$ - worst in the entire history of independent India.

UBS Bank has agreed to disclose almost 52,000 American customers who hid the money with them after violating American tax laws. Would there ever be a situation of India attempting to unearth such funds? It would never happen. Running world's largest democracy does come with its price tag. But all said and done, Cost of US$2B every five years with underground trail of dirty money is still better than any military dictatorship

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