Monday, September 17, 2012

101 Things To Do Before I Kick The Bucket

We all have our bucket list before we actually kick the bucket. I have too and after a lot of consideration and few cuttings, choppings and editings, here's my list of 101 things to do before I die. The list is in no particular order. The only order is in the chronology of the items that crept into my head. The ones that are struck are obviously the ones that I've already accomplished. Also, all the items in my bucket-list are not so fetched (except a few), just so that I can hope to complete the list.

1. Visit a foreign country
2. Trip to Andamans
3. Learn Archery
4. Month-long Backpacking trip in India
5. Meet Rahul Dravid in flesh and blood.
6. Go on a cruise
7. Play Paint Ball
8. Get recognition for my blog
9. Get a LASIK surgery done
10. Experience Thrisoor Pooram
11. Witness Kumbh Mela
12. Take part in Jagannath Yatra
13. Skydiving
14. Get my face smashed in a Tomatino Festival in Spain
15. Run for my life in San Fermin festival in Spain
16. See Jallikatu in Tamil Nadu
17. Tame a bull in Ongole Bull Taming
18. Attend a Rock Concert of one of my favourite bands
19. Bungee Jumping
20. Snorkelling
22. See a Snake Boat Race in Kerala  Accomplished Aranmula Snake Boat Race
23. Attend a Kambala event Witnessed a Kambala in Jappina Mogaru, Mangalore
24. Himalayan Trek
25. See the Great Coral Reef
27. Strawberry picking
28. Skiing in the Alps
29. Learn Swimming
30. Bullet riding in Ladakh
31. Lakswadeep stay
32. Visit at least 10 countires in EU
33. Stand on top of the world's tallest building
34. 500+ km biking trip one way
35. See the world's tallest waterfall
36. Niagra Falls from US and Canada
37. See an active Volcano
38. Go on a Desert Safari
39. Help a blind man see again
40. Sponsor an underprevillaged child
41. Watch F1 racing
42. Attend an NFL/NBA match
43. Learn horse-riding
44. Take up shooting as a hobby
45. Gift a Platinum ring to my wife
46. Drive in the Autobahn
47. Drive a H2
48. Earn a salary 20 times more than my first salary before I retire
49. To stay a night in a tropical rain forest
50. Ride in a helicopter
51. Watch all movies in IMDB's all-time-best-250 list.
52. File an RTI application
53. Learn Pottery
54. Gambling in Las Vegas
55. Go on a House boat in Kerala
56. Stay in a Tree House
57. Get drenched in Cherapunjee in the monsoons
58. Go cycling up a hill
59. Ride a Harley Davidson
60. Live in at least five different countries
61. Get snowed!
62. See Taj Mahal
63. Stay in a palace.
64. Be my daughter's best friend
65. Go fishing
66. 1000 posts in my travel blog
67. Get high on Marijuana
68. Visit Maldives
69. Watch a cricket WC Final
70. Go on a trip on impulse, totally unplanned.
71. Stomping Grapes
72. See Mardi Gras
73. See Rio Festival
74. Beer drinking in Oktober Fest in Germany
75. See a Soccer WC Game
76. Visit every State and UT in India
77. See the Grand Canyon
78. Eat a Michelin Star Chef's Signature dish
79. Donate Blood
80. Have a personal Library with atleast 100 non-pirated books
81. Sleep in a hammok in an exotic beach
82. Get a Tatoo
83. Have Bhang
84. Party in a night club in Europe till 3AM
85. Watch a Grand Slam match in Centre Court
86. Pyramids of Egypt
87. Wine-tasting in Napa Valley
88. Castle hopping in Scotland
89. Host a barbeque party for friends
90. Ride on the Amazon River
91. Run (and complete) a marathon
92. Gondola ride in Venice
93. See the Japanese Gardens and Temples in Japan
94. Long drive in the US West Coast
95. Go Zorbing
96. See a Theyyam performance
97. Witness an Indian Airforce Air Show
98. Visit Bhutan
99. White water Rafting
100. Re-marry my wife
101. Complete the list

Image Courtesy: Here

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh My God!

So who's getting on my nerves these days - The Almighty God of Cricket Himself. Now, before you load your double barrel gun and point it to my chest, let me assure you that I have the highest regard for Him and His cricketing skills. But nowadays I find Him an overkill.
Accepting the Rajya Sabha post (from the most corrupt Govt in the history of the country not withstanding) was pulling the last straw for me. His acceptance of the RS Seat meant he is neither serious about his cricketing career nor is he serious about state of the nation. And that he was adopting a lazy approach towards the two.
He's 40 and he's not helping Team India's cause in the transition process.  By picking and choosing tournaments in which he'd like to play he's not providing a steady combination for the national team. Everytime he makes a comback to the team, there's a lot of cutting and chopping of players not to mention a merry-go-round of the batting order. SRT who himself never bats at any other position than No1 and No4 (in ODI and Tests) should know better that nobody likes to give-up their favourite batting slot.

So the unfortunate victim happens to be a certain Gautam who has to come one-down or a Raina relegated to No7. Add to that, fringe players like Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane remain to be fringe players. One fine day they will be asked to step into the shoes of SRT and perform. And we know very well what happens in such an eventuality.
Surely a batsman of Sachin's calibre has earned the right to hang up his boots on his own accord, but doesnt he know that the interest of the team comes first? In how many countless post match interviews has he not said that the interests of the team comes first? Where has all that liberal-thinking gone when its time to put them into pratice? With 3 years to go for the next World Cup where India must defend her crown, we still do not have an established world-beating side. Its no secret that we won the last WC mostly because we played it in our background. Had the same team gone to West Indies or Australia or England we would have come a cropper.
Plus no matter how many times he insists that he doesn't play for the records, we all know theres no bigger lie than that. Otherwise why would the GOD of cricket take one whole year to get to his 100th 100? Moreover it was not like he had hit a bad patch  - which happens to every cricketer. All through the year Sachin was in good form and its the prospoect of reaching that milestone that has veered him off track. Rewind back a few years to that Multan test when stand-in captain RD in the itnerests of the team declared the Indian Innings leaving Sachin stranded at 194. If Sachin really didn't care for records why would he have left the field with a dissapointed and stunned look on his face?

Surely Sachin has a bigger repertoire of shots and truck full of cricketing shots. But he lacks the killer instinct and leadership skills of Sourav Ganguly. He has the firepower and the muscle to bulldoze any opponent. But he doesn't have the mental toughness and steely resolve of Rahul Dravid. He has a child-like enthusiasm that keeps him going but he doesn't have the maturity as displayed by Laxman in hanging up his boots.
It is true that Sachin has won many matches for India and helped build India as a super power in the world of cricket. On numerous occasions he has pulled India through out of dire straits or atleast brought the team agonizingly close to respectability. And no, I don't agree to the notion that whenever Sachin scores, India looses. Thats just a case of sour grapes who can't digest a loss. His records speaks for itself. No passing comment can obliterate the good work he has done for his country.

Sachin has been a great force in Indian and world cricket. He is the reason why there are so many admirers of the great game. He's the reason why so many toddlers have picked up a bat and are currently playing along with or against him. He's the reason why there's a short supply of quality bowlers in the world. He's the reason why bowlers get nightmares and and captains evolve strategies. He's the reason why most batsmen prefer to talk back with their bats rather than with their mouths. He's the reason why stadiums are sold-out. Need I stress any more why every move of Sachin is closely watched, monitored and critiqued? Why everything Sachin does or does not, makes news? He has achieved everything that has to be achieved (except going past Lara's 400). Now its time for him to fade into the sunset of his cricketing career with reputation intact, rather than making special appearances in series' that catches his fancy.
Kohli's comment in retrospect has assumed greater significance now.

PS: And for God's sake wassup with the new hairstyle Sachin?

Picture Courtesy: sachintendulkaropus, Time, mesushantsingh

Friday, August 03, 2012

Rahul Dravid - Lord of Sweat

The biggest misconception of ardent cricket lovers across the globe is that Rahul Dravid always lived in the shadow of the Great Sachin Tendulkar and how he never got his share of recognition. The greatness of jammy lies in the fact that he never wanted the adulation and fanfare of a Rockstar. He craved for neither attention nor shock value. He never wanted to be the talk of the town. He never wanted women to scream his name in their sleep. Every day he would get up from bed, do his bit for the country and quietly retire to his private life - which mostly included bonding with his family. He's also one of those few world cricketers who despite being the No.2 run-getter in Tests (before Ponting overhauled him) had to constantly prove his worth as a reliable one-day batsman. But despite scoring over 10,000 runs with an average of 40 in this format, he fell out of favour with the selectors in place of players whose only contribution to the team were a quick pair of legs. And as if that insult wasn't harsh enough, recalling him after 2 years of forced-ODI-retirement (and thereby automatic non-T20I-consideration) in a tough English series (apart from being forced to make a T20I debut) was outright preposterous. While most cricketers in the twilight of their cricketing careers concentrate on only one aspect of the game (or retire from one format of cricket), RD doubled-up as a wicket-keeper to accommodate an extra batsman in the team. In the best interests of the team, he has batted in positions 1 to 8 without grumbling. Through all this insult and manhandling, RD has maintained his humility and dignity throughout. And that speaks volumes of his character. Never once has he spoken ill of anyone or anything - not even against Greg Chappel who has now become India's sworn cricketing enemy. With RD, I finally understood the meaning of a corporate world saying “if you are indispensable, you cannot be promoted”.

Statistically speaking, RD is the only batsman to feature in the only two 300+ partnerships in ODI cricket. And for those who say RD doesn’t know how to hit a six, there’s the occasion of him hitting three consecutive sixes in his only T20I match. He is also the second fastest Indian half-centurion.

RD in my opinion is the complete package when it comes to the making a cricketer. If Cricket is a gentleman's game, then yes, RD is a shining example of it. Not only does he have a truck load of cricketing shots, but his intellectual acumen is equally worth mentioning. The Bradman Oration is only one example of his verbosity. The innocent insinuations of projecting to the world that Indian players are not the bullies - on and off the field - indicates his command of Her Majesty’s native tongue. The fact that the Aussies chose RD to be first non-Aussie to speak at this prestigious event shows the kind of respect he commands across the world.

If Saurav commanded the area across the pitch on the off-side opposite to God, then RD was the beginning and end of the No3 position in Tests. If Sachin was/is God of perfect strokeplay, RD was all about being dead-set defensive. If Sehwag oozes flamboyance, then RD was the re-incarnation of patience. If Laxman was all about class, RD was the master of technique. If Yuvraj was all about aggression and arrogance, RD was humility-personified. If Beaven was the finisher then RD was the carrier. If Ponting was… well... Ponting, then RD re-invented himself in every new role and slot. If Jayasurya was the Destructor, then RD was the singles-sneaker. The list goes on…

The only blemish one can think of, in an otherwise flawless and illustrious career was the 2004 ball-tampering episode where he was apparently seen rubbing a candy on the ball. Whether he was actually guilty of the charge and if so, what prompted him to do it, will remain a mystery - unless he plans to reveal it in a tell-all tale that is now in vogue with retired cricketers these days. But knowing Rahul, he will take that mystery to his grave. The other haunting question that will never be revealed is just how and why did he declare that 2004 Indian innings against Pakistan, leaving Sachin stranded and (dumbfounded) at 194.

One word to describe RD - "Sweat"

So while the world mourns the retirement of RD, I will rather celebrate. I will celebrate because RD taught us so many lessons in Dedication, Patience, Resilience, Perseverance, Stubbornness, Adaptability and above all Humility and Dignity. He has served his time for his country and he has retired gracefully without being a burden and also paving the way for fresh talent to fill up those huge boots... metaphorically of course. It is now time for him to lead a relaxed life with his family albeit with some tense moments while watching rookie Test cricketers play with the long handle and an impatient mindset. As for me I’m just proud that I grew up in the era of Rahul Sharad Dravid.

PS: While this blog is a tribute to RD, it should not be automatically construed as a Sachin-bashing blog. That will come in a later posting :)
Picture Courtesy: NewsFirst, CricketNext, CentreRight

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Tale of Two Grandmas

In a matter of one week my wife and I lost our respective Grandmas. The two of them were so different in their mannerisms and yet in the last few months of their life they were so similar. It only makes me wonder how Death is the most common denominator among us humans.

With my wife’s grandma - who was healthy as a horse - we imagined her to live a 100 years. But she took her final breath at 89 and bid farewell to the world. My own Grandma on the other hand who was frail as a Lilly plant went to live 6 months shy of a century.

My wife’s Granny earned the nickname of “Modern Ammumma” from the kids in the household for her (for lack of a better word) uniqueness. She was extremely “at-home” with gobbling Pizzas, Noodles and Ice creams. She would even have the occasional peg of whiskey with my co-brother! On the other hand my own Granny preferred the local delicacies like “muruku”, “mixture”, “avalose unda”, “banana chips” and other South-Indian Condiments. This despite the fact that she had lost all her tooth ages ago. She would just put them in her mouth for a very long time till it becomes soggy and soft enough to munch with her gums and swallow it.

While one Granny was a cleanliness freak who took bath on her own every day, bathing was optional for the other. While one never cared about her great grand kids, the other’s best friends were her great grand kids. But despite these differences, there were few common traits between the two. Both loved to receive gifts (“set mundu” and/or money) from their respective offsprings. And both of them treasured their “abharna petti”.

Both their lives were cut-short by a devastating fall that rendered them bed-ridden till their last breath. The inability to walk around increased their frustration. This led to them having delusions and certain hallucinations. Senility crept-in. They started to become a little violent and stubborn. Bed sores were a frequent occurrence, for not getting up from the bed. Screaming their lungs out was as common as having a meal. Personal Hygiene was thrown out of the window. Then slowly the food intake reduced. They refused to take any solid food. The last couple of weeks they took only “kanji vallam” or oats or juices. They were both a picture of wrinkled flesh and bones in their final days.

And then the inevitable happened. It was my wife’s granny that departed first. That day she had trouble breathing. She was taking quick breaths. Her daughter who diligently took care of her all these years knew the end was near. She put her in the car and drove to the hospital, but it was all over before they could reach the hospital. And then a week later, my granny, in the dead of the night started having breathing trouble and a few minutes later it was all over.

Two great souls who lived to see 3 generations of offsprings departed to a better world. A place free of the shenanigans of this cruel world. I know I will miss them, but I won’t - and didn’t - shed a tear for them, for I know they are in a happier place and I’m not jealous of their happiness. They have lived their time in this world and now it’s time to meet their maker. It was not an abrupt goodbye but merely the end of a long vacation in a place called Earth.

Picture Courtesy:

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Gangs of Guwahati

Over the last week or so the media has gone into a frenzy... what’s new about that you might ask. The Guwahati Molestation case is prime time news for all News Channels alike. No channel has missed the opportunity to beam this "prime-time entertainment" to its viewers. And why would they, for the sex-starved men and the justice-seeking women lap it up with equal vigour. Even the inquisitive children sneak a peek when their elders aren't watching over them. After all we live in a country where we haven’t yet heard of Parental-Control packages in TV viewership. And with nobody to watch over the all-powerful-media, no eyebrows are raised when they beam such disturbing images.
Since much as already been said and written about the moral stature of the men of Guwahati (and across India in general), I will not beat the horse to death any more. Instead, in the midst of all this a lot of questions keep cropping in my head, that begs for an answer.
  • What is a 17 year old doing in a bar?
  • Why did the bar not check the age of patrons before admitting them?
  • Why were they served drinks without checking their age?
  • What prompted this outrage from the crowd?
  • What was the "part-time" reporter doing there with a camera at the precise moment?
  • Why did the molesters not attack the reporter when they knew he was filming them?
  • Why did the police take 40 minutes to reach the spot which was just a kilometer away?
  • Why did the channel air the footage so shamelessly?
  • Why did the NCW which is supposed to guard the victim, reveal her identity?
  • Why the main accused is still not apprehended?
  • Where is the Human Rights Violation group when you need them?
  • Why did the police initially dismiss it as a stray incident? How many incidents do they need to make it a relevant issue?
  • Why has the bar not been shut down for allowing minors into their premises?
  • Why no action was taken on the police for arriving late at the crime scene?

Although a gang of only 30 members were involved in the actual crime, there are many gangs that were involved in the larger picture.

The Bar Gang - that allowed underage teens to get drunk
The Police Gang - that arrived late and still doing a shoddy work of catching the culprits
The Media Gang - that beamed the images so shamelessly
The By-Stander Gang - that could have stopped the rogue Gang
The NCW Gang - that released the identity of the girl
The Politician Gang - that plays the blame game and tries to derive maximum mileage from the incident

Now that the story is approaching its sell-by date the question on my mind is "Will the Gangs of Guwahati ever be punished?"
Picture Courtesy: TNT Magazine

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Perils of Seeking Thrill

There is a new breed of anti-social elements in the society. They are young, upwardly mobile and utterly stupid. They call themselves trekkers, nature lovers, amateur photographers and wildlife conservationists. But they could not have had a bigger misconception of the adjectives they go by, for a trekker does not venture into the forests without a compass, nor would a nature lover consume alcohol in nature's lap, nor would an amateur photographer instigate the wild animals.

Time and again we forget the fact that nature can be far more devastating and brutal than it can be beautiful or breathtaking. How many times have we not heard about a fun trip gone horribly wrong? In almost all these cases it was totally avoidable, if at all the parties involved applied a little bit of common sense. Satellite television brought shows like Crocodile Hunters and Man Vs Wild into our drawing rooms, but unfortunately it could not develop our common sense. Or maybe we are just too stubborn. Our mind filters stuff we want to watch or inculcate. We admire the landscape and the adventure but disregard the risks and the survival techniques.

It has been observed that a lot of such mishaps happen because of lack of knowledge of the places we visit. It is very important that we know what to expect. A lot of blogs and Wikis give an accurate account of the risks involved apart from giving complete info of the area replete with pictures. Swimming in unknown territories is always a big no-no. You may be a good swimmer, but there's little you can do when caught in a whirlpool. There are also instances of flash floods sweeping away people who tried to be adventurous with the rough waters. It’s very important to respect nature's fury and be overly cautious.

Instances of youngsters going trekking in highly vegetated jungles without a compass and absolutely no idea about the terrain are foolishness of the highest order. And in all likelihood this foolishness switches up one notch higher with the intake of alcohol. Alcohol intake should be strictly avoided in tourist places - more so in the jungles - because inevitably the bottles are strewn around causing harm to all living beings treading that path. Alcoholism combined with smoking is the worst form of tourism menace in this country. There have been instances of forest fires caused by cigarette butts wiping out hectares of vegetation and along with it, its wild life.

Wildlife photography seems to be the new in-thing with these tourists. To get a good shot, amateur wildlife photographers get too close for comfort to elephants and other wild animals. The result is panic settling among the creatures and they start running helter-skelter. The unfortunate outcome of this melee is loss of human lives. We need to understand that elephants are other wild animals are untamed. They are not as affable as domesticated animals shown in Hollywood animation movies. And while we are in their territory it is only natural that we respect their privacy by not interfering in their activities. There is also a lot of misconception among wildlife photographers that wildlife photography equals wildlife conservation. Clicking pictures of wildlife by annoying them can in no way be termed Conservation. The same applies to wild life tourism. Staying in Jungle Lodges does not automatically make you a nature lover or wildlife conservationist. In fact the more of these wildlife tours the more aggravated are the animals. This forces them to migrate farther and farther away and inevitably they end up in a human inhabited place. Straying into human territory usually means getting killed or captured or run-over.

The wildlife of this country has no chance for survival if this trend continues. We must inculcate the habit of responsible tourism in us, if we want our children to enjoy the sights that adventure that we enjoyed. As the Native Indian Tribes wisely said, "We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrowed it from our children."

Picture Courtesy: Masalah Rakyat, Africa Business Pages, ISDR

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Lovey-Dovey Story

I followed my wife, albeit dragging my feet, along those annoying winding maze of aisles of the local supermarket chain that is so strategically positioned that you end up watching (or rather passing) every item on sale before you reach the billing counter. Retail Management is a whole new science designed to tap into the customer’s mind - well, with only one entry and exit and no escape routes, you really do not have a chance, do you?

I watched my wife wade through the cutlery, toiletries, bed-and-bath and sanitary item sections before finally stopping at the cosmetic section. "Now this was going to take a while", I thought to myself. After she was done with her fairness and anti-ageing creams she moved on to the shampoo section. She looked at the products on offer and despite sporting an "I-can’t-decide" look on her face she proceeded to pick her usual anti-dandruff shampoo.

"Try Dove", I said, trying to sound more involved in this monthly chore of grocery shopping.
"Dove? Is it good?” she enquired.
"Of course it's good. It's a popular and elite brand. Plus it's Dove! Duh!”, I said, sounding like a seasoned shopper.
Her mind tried to make sense of all the happenings. The fact that I was asking her to go with Dove sounded strange. But the prospect of trying Dove for the first time after drooling over the umpteen ads jeopardised her chances of pinpointing the cause for my newfound magnanimity.

To confirm that I was not kidding she prodded me again. "You sure? Coz I'm happy with what I use right now."
"But you always complain that your hair looks dead", I volunteered, cautiously insinuating that it was her thoughts and not mine, to avoid any trouble.
And that was her cue. "You are right. Although my dandruff problem looks to be slightly under control, the hair however looks... looks..."
"Lifeless?", I helped.
"Right. Lifeless", she agreed.
"Wait a minute... are you suggesting that my hair actually looks lifeless?" She demanded.
"No baby no... I wasn't. I was... I was just helping you with the right synonym" was all I could muster in my defense.
"Yeah Right!!!"
"No seriously. I mean I can hardly find any difference", I said as a matter-of-factly.
"Oh so now you don’t even notice your wife's hair. Is it?" she shot back.
"Oh common now, you know that’s not what I meant. It’s just that... well... whatever it is baby, you just look fabulous." I said, taking refuge in singing praises of my wife. I knew that this was the "emergency fire exit" out of arguments that always worked. And it did.
"Awww. Thank you baby", she purred.
"I love you honey".
"I love you too sweetiepie". And that seals it.

"So, Dove it is right?" she re-confirmed.
And before I could answer, she continued, "Yes! I got to try this Damage Therapy thingy. It sounds very promising and just what I’m looking for. Moreover with Choti's imminent wedding in a month's time, I want to look my best".
"You will look gor..." I began.
"And you remember the shampoo that I was using last year", she said, cutting me off.
"All their tall claims of stronger and longer hair have not only come to naught but left me with loads of dandruff to deal with", she continued, without giving me a chance to travel back in time.
"Plus, it’s not like we can't afford it", she continued, making her case stronger.
If she could read my mind, she would have heard, "JUST TAKE IT", but instead she managed to hear, "Of course baby. Why would I not buy you something that makes you happy?"
She awww-ed one more time and with that she snuggled close to me, her right hand going round my back to give me half a hug and the left hand dropping two of the biggest bottles of Dove Damage Therapy into the cart.

A month later I was busy tapping away on my laptop sitting on the comfortable bean bag when she came from behind and put her arms around my head and over my chest. As her hair fell over my face, I pick up the cue and tell her, "I just love the smell of your hair. It's so smooth and full of life".
"Acha? Self-praising huh? You know you are the one who suggested Dove."
"Yeah, of course. And aren't you glad I did?" I ask.
"Hmm yes. I will grant you that. One of the best decisions you ever took", she said, her chest burgeoning with pride that her husband finally is getting the nuances of shopping, right.

"Now get up, you bag of bones. I'm getting late for Choti's Mehendi ceremony", she thundered.

As I got up and walked past the dressing table, I caught myself in the mirror. Looking into mirror and running my hand through my hair I thought about all the scheming I did over a month ago, tricking my wife into buying Dove Damage Therapy, for no self-righteous man would ever show preference/inclination in beauty products.
Now sporting an evil grin, I heard myself say "and that was the end of all my hair problems."

Disclaimer: This is a contest entry for Indiblogger featuring Dove Damage Therapy.
Image Courtesy: Here and here.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Cloak of Invisible Decency

Farcical Disclaimer: This blog contains content that might hurt your religious sentiments. So, if you one of those who get easily sentimentalized, you can stay away. Should you go ahead and read the article, you have three options in front of you - Compliment, Complaint or Compliant:)

Lord Rama is widely considered to be Maryada Purushottama (The Perfect Man or Lord of Self Control or Lord of Virtue) by Hindus across the globe. He is a human being par excellence and his rule was famously known as Rama Rajya for being full of peace, happiness, prosperity and justice. And yet among the 330 million Gods in Hindu mythology it is with Lord Rama that I have an issue with. The story of Lord Rama is all hunky dory till He protects Sita Devi from the clutches of Ravanna and brings her back. It's the story after that, which makes me wonder if He deserves the Maryada Purshotamma tag that has been conferred upon Him. My grouse with Lord Rama is on three counts
  • When He asks Sita Devi to undergo the Agni Pariksha
  • When He banishes Sita Devi from Ayodhya on again doubting her chastity
  • When He fails to recognize his own flesh and blood, Luva and Kusha and battles with them
Agni Pariksha

In my book Lord Rama loses the Maryada Purushottama tag the moment He asked His wife to prove her chastity. The basic premise of calling Rama a Gentleman fell flat on its nose when He doubted his wife's fidelity. No right-minded gentleman would ever doubt his wife, least of all by listening to a loose tongue. Sure there’s any argument that He listened to the people of his kingdom and wanted to put them at ease. But at what cost? By hurting the sentiments of a woman who's devotion to her husband kept the evil advances of Ravanna at bay? And what kind of a King is Lord Rama who listens to the whispering voices of the mischief-mongering people rather than the thundering voice of His own conscience? If Rama Rajya was all about peace, prosperity and justice for the people, where was justice in asking Sita Devi to undergo Agni Pariksha?

It is this male chauvinist attitude that is still the root cause of all atrocities against women in this country. The women of this country have to constantly prove their loyalty and fidelity to their husbands who themselves can do as they wish with no questions asked. The modern day Ramas’ take refuge in the idea that, if Lord Rama can ask his wife to prove her chastity why not his subjects? Can’t help wonder if we are following the wrong Gods!

Banishment of Sita Devi

As if the Agni Pariksha wasn't insulting enough, comes the banishment of Sita Devi from the kingdom. And with this act His cloak of decency is all but shredded to bits. Suspecting your wife of carrying someone else's child and throwing her out of your house to let the pregnant wife fend for herself is the worst form of cruelty there is. And not surprisingly that attitude is still prevalent in Indian men thanks to God's Testimony over the matter. The women of this country have no chance. They are up against Gods and husbands!

Battle with Luv and Kush

The failure of Lord Rama in identifying His own flesh and blood is the pulling of the last straw. Now common, even a tacky 80's Bollywood movie star would have recognised his sons (lost in Kumbh Ka Mela) even after 25 years. The fact that Hanuman could recognize that Luv and Kush were the Lord’s sons and Rama missing out on the same fact defies all logic of parenthood and Godly sensibilities.

There could not have been a better ending to this story than Sita Devi submitting herself to Mother Earth leaving Rama to live a life of regret. As they say, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Disclaimer: Some of my understanding/knowledge/interpretation about the events may be wrong. I stand welcome to be corrected.
† Courtesy Srikanth Manjunath
Picture Courtesy: MyGuruWikipedia

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Discrimination of the Third Order

Of all the discriminations meted-out to various sections in the society, this one counts for the least publicized. It is so less talked-about that many refuse to believe it actually exists. "New Dads" often live with the stigma (at least in India) that a Dad is just the sperm-provider in the conceiving stage and latter as a food-shelter-and-clothing provider for the rest of his life. The father-child relation is not held same regard (or even close) as a Mother and child relation. Granted that a mother and child are one entity for roughly 35 weeks but in the process of glorifying the mother and child relationship the father is often ignored.

For starters, in most Hindu customs the daughter-in-law is packed off to her "maike", some 7 months into her pregnancy only to return after the baby is around 3 or 4 months old. So the discrimination starts even before the child is brought into this world. In my custom the would-be-father's contribution is restricted to sperm-donation and settling the bills for the delivery. But the MCPs that (previous generation of Fathers of) the Mallu Clan were, it serves everyone right that they stay from all things good in life. But times are the changing. And with micro families and working women being the order of the day, most deliveries happen with the husbands by their side. I was lucky enough to be next to my wife (though not in the OT) when she delivered our bundle of joy. But again for reasons known only to the Hospital staff, the expecting father is not allowed inside the OT unlike what is practiced in other countries.

Whether by their own will or bending over for the sake of customs and traditions, it is almost criminal to miss the first-look of your own flesh and blood. It is not a sight you see every day or every year. For all you know, you may see it only once or twice in your lifetime. But more than the frequency it's the emotional gravity that's worth cherishing for a life time. The anxious 9 months suddenly gives way to overwhelming joy and complete nothingness. If ever there was a moment when I felt my legs wobbling with excitement, it was this! I could sense my brain sending signals to the eyes to well-up but this was not the time, because if I blink, I know the baby would be whisked back into the OT to dress-up. I only had enough time to enquire about the sex of the baby and that too after an after-thought. A girl it is - just as we both secretly wanted, but never revealed, should it be a boy. Not that we would be disappointed but we just were preparing for it to be either.

As I get busy calling people who matter to spread the news the mother and daughter are wheeled-into our room. I quickly wash my hands and pick-up the baby before I face the next stigma - new Dads don't know how to pick a just-born. There is surprise, shock, awe and instructions pouring-in. I’m too pre-occupied to heed to any of that talk. Looking at those sleepy eyes, I could hear myself repeating in my head - You are My Baby. I was reveling in the fact that I am now a life-creator, care-giver and protector - synonyms usually only reserved to the mother. So, with all the emotions that I was feeling at that time I would like to ask would any New Dad feel comfortable missing out on such joy? If they do miss it voluntarily - God save them and if they miss it by way of customs and traditions, I’m bound to ask if we really need such customs and traditions?

The last trimester of the expecting mother and first quarter of child's growth is the most crucial period in my opinion. It's the ideal time to bond with his child and his wife. The mother would also prefer nobody but her doting life partner to be by her side during all the nights the baby keeps you awake. It is difficult on a lot of levels for the husband to deal with a pregnant wife in the house. Yet nobody enquires about you. The society is only bothered about the health of the expecting mother and her womb-occupier. While Maternity Leave is a must whether you work in a Government or Private organization, the government of this country does not feel the need to have a legislation that provides mandatory paternity leave to expecting fathers. The result of such a disparate law is that the New Dad end up exhausting his Personal Leaves for the year at the time of the birth and end up missing important events like the Naming Ceremony of the baby - as has happened to a close friend of mine. As for me, I cannot imagine missing even a small thing like my baby sucking her thumb for the first time, let alone missing her Naming Ceremony.

My grouse here is that New Dads are often relegated to the task of being a financier or sperm-giver and never credited with the role of a life-giver and protector that they rightfully can be. It’s about time these traditions and stigma are thrown out of the window and usher the New Age Dads who not only take care of their little ones but also be the emotional handle of their better halves.

Picture Curtesy: Essential baby, Comedy Film Nerds

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Random Thoughts - Take 2

So this is my second attempt at blabbering... err... blogging indiscreetly and indiscriminately. For reasons unknown to me, I don't know when, how and most importantly why, Random Thoughts churned into Road Bloke. Being the avid reader (of blogs) that I am, I realised, Random Thoughts was probably the second most used blog title after "heyitsme<my_name>". Hence I decided to chuck Random Thoughts for "Ramblings of a Dysfunctional Mind" - which however is used by at least 2 bloggers in the same form and some 18 variations (until I quit counting) from an equal number of bloggers. Ain't I glad that the 28 minutes I spent thinking of a Blog Title yielded so few results! I feel I've attained my "intellectual-high" of the week by coming up with that title.

Now, the question rattling your mind right now is, just what the hell do I need a second blog for and what do I intend to write in that. Before I answer these questions let me assure you that I've not gone the psychic route for getting it right with my predictions. That question is really genuine and the only answer I can think of right now for the former question is that it sounds very verbose to say I write two blogs! Plus, every blogger has at least 2 or 3 blogs. So why not me? Plus it's free. Plus... ok I will stop now. To answer the latter question about what I intend to write, I believe as a intelligent reader you must have figured it out by now. Anybody who happens to be my unfortunate Facebook friend knows that I rant a lot. Let me say that again - A LOT. Well here's another way to get deluged by my rants and that too in the longer format of the game. No Escape.

There are however little things - nice things - that I would be blogging about. But just like the glorious Indian Media, 90% of the content would include negativism, sensationalism and absolute crap. So without any further ado let me set the cat among the pigeons!

Picture Coutesy: