Food for Thought

I was reading a mail from Niels today. I was trying to explain to him the whole Ram Janm Bhoomi- Babri Masjid situation. And he mentioned his take on it that made me think; that religious discussions are not really healthy food for thought.

Religion. The dictionary defines it as the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.”

Here’s my take on it. When man finds instances in life too much to comprehend, overwhelmingly scary or happy, too wondrous, too agonizing, it is basic human nature to want to turn to something or someone. A primeval instinct to look for comfort, something we learnt right in the womb. So he constructed a higher purpose and put down a set of rules to control society through it. All the focused energy vibrations together formed ‘God’. Throughput the world, this ‘god’ is called different things; Jehovah, Rama, Allah, Jesus, and so on. But what we turn to finally is that intrinsic energy that resides in all of us human beings which transcend with pure belief into something bigger than us. Atleast this is my take on it.

But at the end of the day it can be agreed that god is spiritual faith and religion is a manmade construct. And the people who use god’s name to justify vile act of violence not religious at all. All religions talk of the same vices and practices; peace, love, brotherhood, loyalty. There is no religion that says, “Please use god’s name and kill all those around you, sacrifice innocent lives and create bloodshed and thou shall be welcomed into the sanctity of heaven”. And people who think so are so far removed from god that religion is just a hasty understanding to them. So to you Hindu and Muslim extremists out there who took lives of men, children and women, who created fear and terror in the hearts of your own countrymen, who incited hate into the hearts of people who lived as peaceful neighbors, god is dead to you and you killed him.

Today as the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid verdict looms over the country, it isn’t Rama or Allah that is bothered. It is the common, everyday people of India cowering in houses, scared of a tide of violence they once witnessed, fearing for the lives of the people they love and ashamed of the cruelties of their own countrymen. So today, I bow down my head not as a Hindu or a Christian, but as an Indian, hoping that her country will make her proud and rise above the pettiness that she once witnessed before. Hoping that she can once again, live in freedom in a country that fought for it. Hoping for peace. Jai Hind.

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Fact 1: A good looking woman walks into a room full of people, and all the men look.

Fact 2: A good looking woman walks into a room full of people with a man, and the rest don’t look (well openly at least).

To have good looks is definitely an asset. “Beauty is only skin deep” is quite true, but the depth sure stretches a long way. The good looks helps women cross over some initial hurdles in a social set up fast and that is an iron clad truth.

So you are good looking and you know it. You have always had men show interest in you. Always have had an easy time fitting into a social group. And if you are blessed with brains and wit, the rest has always been easy too. You feel confident and sure of yourself.

And then enters ‘the man’ in your life. Now there is a catch here. If you are with someone who reminds you of your worth; that you’re good looking, that you are fun to be with, then you don’t forget it. Otherwise after a while of sly looks that you don’t notice, the guys shying away from you and your man, of not being reminded; one actually tends to forget. I have seen gorgeous women looking surprised when reminded of their looks. The ‘are you talking about me’ look on the face, tells the story of another one bites the dust. So to all you women out there; look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, “You are the fairest of them all”. Cheers ladies!

Life As I Know It

Insecurities. Which of us can truly say that this is one emotion we aren’t bogged down with every now and then? I see myself as an averagely confident person who is aware of her skills and abilities. I know my good points, ponder over my bad ones and live life with the necessary bravado that is needed to get through it with an essence of contentment. I am independent, capable of things and have a good set of close friends, an amazing family and two beautiful cat babies. Yet what amazes me is that there are few people, and I repeat few, who are capable of disrupting this woven shell of confidence so easily. To be able to do so, these people have to be close to me. And you wonder how that is that the ones you love can breach that confidence and trust and make you doubt yourself.

Security, love, comfort; seemingly simple and carelessly thrown around words. But they carry the world of your emotions on their simple alphabets. The truth of the day is that even the ones you love the most will hurt you, will be indifferent to you, will shatter your trust, will take you for granted. But the true differentiator between the ones that really love you and the ones putting up a façade is that the former will still be there for you and help you pick up the pieces and weave it back together while the latter will hand you the broom to sweep it all together and walk away.

So during moments of deep despair, when you feel violated, when you wake up in the morning choking on the unseen despair, remember this. This is life’s test to help you weed out the bad weeds. If the one hurting you loves you, there is no reason to feel insecure because they will be back. If they don’t, there is still no need to feel insecure because it talks of their weakness in hurting someone who is good to them, not yours. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad. If it is a constant, learn to see the signs and cut your losses and move on. The ones who will repent in the long run finally are always the perpetrators, never the victims. So tell yourself this is a short phase. This too shall pass.

Progress; a Pseudo-Name for Chaos

I recently got into a conversation with my mother, a woman who has the ability to multi-task and take on the woes of the world onto her fragile little shoulders like no one else. Amongst the many social work she is a part of, the Tribal Outreach Program of Kanyakumari is one she is involved with.
The tribals. Words that people hardly dwell over. Where do they live in a world that is so quickly evolving into an urban jungle? What do they eat? Where do they work? How many of us can actually say that we have lent a thought to them?
The outreach program extends medical help, family counseling and other aid to these people through a mobile hospital that makes its round to tribal areas. Situated in deeply remote parts of the terrain, these people are completely cut off from services that the urbanites take for granted.
Before the urban culture, before Bill Gates made his millions, before the first airbuses were invented, the tribals existed in peace and harmony with their surroundings. These are people who have lived amidst nature and her splendors, who truly understood her, who never took her for granted, who appreciated all the offerings and never exploited any part of it. Talk to them even now and their knowledge of the forest and their sheer love for it is mind blowing. They lived on the land, farmed on it, made makeshift biodegradable houses of twigs and branches and kept moving before the land was depleted of all its richness and minerals. Their way of life was in tune with nature’s balance and harmed her in no way. The tribals of the Kanyakumari area hunted wild boars which provided them with their main nutrition and protein. It kept in balance the population of wild boars and their world was one of total balance with them giving back to nature as much as they took.
Then crawled in ‘Progress’. DFO’s and Forest Officials who ‘learnt’ about nature and her forests and understood all about her through text books and power point presentations. Who probably became DFOs because they couldn’t get through their IAS. People who had no grasp on the reality of nature and had no true love for her. These people became the decision makers and passed laws in the name of ‘Progress’.
When the delicate balance of nature is disrupted, it ends as always in chaos. And the people who suffer are the ones who have not contributed to the chaos at all. The tribals in Kanyakumari were banned from farming, from building huts, from hunting wild boars; mind you all this was for ‘Progress’ after all. The aftermath? They lost their livelihood, their way of living, the culture, their source of food; in short their lives as they knew it. Soon the wild boars increased in numbers and started killing people and destroying farm lands and the tribals were forced to look for hard labor to avoid poverty and starvation and now live in complete chaos.
So I place the question out there. What is ‘Progress’? Is this what we understand of it? Who are we protecting and who are we helping? Land and livelihood is stolen from these people who have never harmed any one in any way while whole forests are cleared in India, protected animals pushed onto the brink of extinction by these same officials who turn a blind eye when the green notes are tucked into their pockets. So are we really moving ahead? Ironic isn’t it?