Thursday, December 25, 2008

Strange as it mind sound

Is liberation attained only through sainthood?

How can young minds and energetic souls renounce the world and embark on spiritual journey? Their voices still have that morning freshness and aggressive killer instinct. Yet they chose to ignore all this and begin a journey which will be so different from the world they have been living. These are the sentiments and thoughts that are running in my mind while I finishing writing a story on 75 youths taking the path of sainthood in a religious ceremony on Saturday.

I spoke to four youngsters who were doing so well for themselves, leading successful careers and hobnobbing with the best brains in their respective industry. But I guess since these privileged youngsters got all the success and luxury too soon or too easily, that they now want to see life with a different perspective and surrounding. Expensive cars, staying and dinning in five star hotels and splurging on branded stuff are something that lures a lot of youth to work hard or smart. But these youths have somehow lost interest in all of them.

These group of youngsters who are set to live as saint had everything in their life that others aspire to have. Yet it took them just a year to kick all these comfort and dedicate their life to god and religious activities.

“Most of us feel that bhajan sabha and satsang should be attended when one has grown old. But I think as youngsters we should be attending them so that we don’t get carried away in materialistic pleasure,” is what a mere 23-year old fresh graduate from London College of Fashion tells you when you ask him his reasons for taking on sainthood.

Surprisingly this budding fashion designer was set to start his design studio in London but somewhere he just cancelled all these plans. Instead he had made up his mind to adorn saintly robes and lead a detached life. “Everything in life is temporary. It is important to live for a meaningful cause,” shared this would-have been fashion designer.

I agree materialistic pleasure is temporary and only increases ones greed to have more. But does one find contentment in renouncement? I mean how can one just get up from bed one morning and erase memories of ones family, friends and relatives? A mother who till now was used to scolding and cajoling her son will no longer get to acknowledge in public that - ‘The saint standing on the stage is my son’.

How easy can it be for someone to just chuck laptops, mobile phones and ambitions all of sudden? I know answers to these questions are not easy to find.

This 26-year old researcher who could have done wonders with his research in bio-informatics has now decided to serve god. “I did not want to be part of the rat race instead I wanted to liberate my soul from all sorts of comfort and attachment. The process of renouncing the world was running in the back of my mind even while I continued my research at Cambridge,” said this researcher.

What strikes me is that these youngsters have no regrets and are proud of their decision to take ‘diksha’. Even their families are rejoicing over their children’s decision. Relatives too flock at their homes to see their son who would soon be a saint.

Life they say is strange but it cannot get stranger than this. Why is it that these Gurus preach renouncement and not ask their followers to lead simple life without shunning ones responsibility? Can’t these religious gurus channelise the minds of talented youngsters so that world can progress and mankind can prosper? A researcher, a fashion designer and engineer can do wonders as professionals but what use would they be to the nation as saint draped in orange robes with large red tikka. Will these young saints really lead a liberated life? I find it tough to answer…

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A victory to cherish

It was celebration time for Kenyan students in Vadodara with Barack Obama sweeping the US Presidential Polls and becoming the first African-American president of the US. Obama’s late father hailed from rural western Kenya while his 87-year old grandmother resides in Kogelo, a tiny village near Kisumu. Kenyans residing in the city have been receiving congratulatory calls from Indian friends and their families calling them from Kenya to update them on the celebration taking place back home.

Most Kenyans had never ever dreamt or envisioned an African-American president taking over America’s reins. But with Obama winning the polls, they feel that Americans have definitely voted for change this time. “Look at the amount of support he has got from Americans. We never expected them to support an American with African roots. But this win is historic by all means,” said president of Kenyan Student Association Jack Kihiko. As many as 10 students from Kenya study in the M S University (MSU) here.

Kihiko also shared that celebrations back home started way before the results were announced. “We knew that Obama will win as he was a young and intelligent candidate and besides him there was no other competent candidate Americans could vote for. But now we will have to see what good can he deliver to the world with his deeds,” added Kihiko, a second year student from technology faculty in MSU.

Jacquelne Saisi Mulinya pursuing her doctorate from MSU can’t stop smiling over Obama’s landslide victory. She feels Obama is the next JF Kennedy who will not only revive America but also help Africans enjoy greater freedom in USA.

“I still can’t take my eyes off the television set, the news of Obama’s victory is so overwhelming and surreal. For ages Africans have been oppressed, ill-treated and sidelined but now we can hope for a better future. People in US knew that only Obama can bring to their country back into action,” said Mulinya adding that this win in a way has united all African countries.

Jacquelne’s husband Kingsley who has come to the city from Nigeria to visit his wife is also very ecstatic with Obama’s victory. “It’s a proud moment in the life of every African. And this victory will strengthen the unity between African nations. We now hope that days of terror are over and peace will get precedence with a new man in power,” said Kingsley.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sarkari Blues

I join the long queue of people waiting to pay their house tax in the municipal office. It’s the first time that I get to taste the life of a common man who spends most of his life waiting in queues at government offices or bus stands. I see empty blank faces with expressions as cold as a stone. The fan over our head too fails to ward off the heat as the passage where we stand is narrow, unkempt and stinky. With abated breath each one in the row waits for his turn at the window so that he can escape from this narrow dungeon. The work proceeds at a snail pace with government officers busy taking breaks either for tea or to munch biscuits given to them by some colleague. A stern looking pot bellied watchman guides obedient tax payers ensuring that people don’t barge into the queue causing unnecessary trouble.

People take turns to sit on three small chairs placed by mistake in the passage amidst piles of accounts books. Perhaps, the Diwali cleaning was still going on in this office I thought. Standing in the queue I kept looking at my surrounding, observing the placidity on the faces of the people waiting in the line despite of sweat dripping down their forehead. How can they be ok about this discomfort and inhumane behaviour levied on them for ages now?

I peeped inside the glass window partly covered with grills and saw a fat man sitting on the chair. He looked bored, harassed and misfit for the job. Ironically, the computer placed on his table was not working which made his job all the more mundane and difficult since he had to lift a pen to scribble on the receipt book. I see his eye glimmer in joy on seeing cutting chai and parleji biscuits. It gives him a chance to take a break when it is not required. A well oiled lady dressed in pink saree darts her cold smile on him and snatches away the biscuit packet leaving few for him on the table. Surprisingly this man was calm as a cucumber and did not get annoyed by this lady’s act of snatching the packet away from him in front of the huge crowd standing on the other side of glass window. Wow! I said something to cheer about in this dull boring government office that actually resembles a old decrepit monument.

But amidst observation and humour I thought over that life of a common man can be quite nerve wrecking and gut wrenching. Do they ever get to get high on drugs or enjoy a party on hill top? Where do they get their share of excitement and enjoyment in life? Their hardened facial expression would not even soften by applying oodles of moisturising cream. Or for that matter their chapped feet would take ages to heal even after several pedicure sessions. Even their fashion sense would be restricted to shades of bright flashy pink or deep itchy orange for colours like mauve, blue or sky blue would only encourage frowns and smirks from them.

When I was lost in my thought a sudden flush of loud voices brought me back to reality. Few people were shouting at the officer who was busy enjoy the tea break while others standing in the queue in the tail end were contemplating to go without paying their taxes. One man returns with a receipt in his hand informing others standing in the queue, ‘This receipt is temporary, you will have to come back to take the computerised receipt later on. The computers are not working today.’ The information came as an ultimate blow to those waiting in line to those who smiled their way to home after clearing their dues. Now I knew that real action was all set to take place. Not wanting to be a party to the event, I made a hasty exit and ran towards the stairs that ended on the exit door. Phew!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Worth a read

'If I had my life over' By Belinda Emmett (written after she found out she was dying from cancer) I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for a day... I would have burned the pink candle sculpted into a rose before it melted in storage... I would have talked less and listened more... I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained or the sofa faded... I would have eaten popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace... I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth... I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband... I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed... I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains... I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life... I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Innocence lost

Innocence lost

Those twinkling eyes
Mischievous looks
Somersaulting and gyrating
Over petty little things
Ragged, torn out and discarded
Their childhood innocence
Lost amidst hands of destiny

Life lost over smoke
Marijuana, alcohol and drugs
They don’t struggle
Cramming notes or homework
Books are distant enemy
Freedom is what is free
With no tags attached
Childhood somewhere lost
With only home being
Open sky and station platform

Their little hands
Soaked in dirt layer
Not by playing in the garden
Nor have they lost a cricket match
But sweeping, cleaning and swapping
Is all that these little kids
Look forward to
With the dawn of the day
By the dusk they are tired
And drunk or doped

They talk like adults
Not like little children should
They earn their living
And content they are
With their lives
That begins at the railway track
And ends in oblivion

They don’t play heed
To their lost childhood
Innocence is lost
Forever for eternity
For the eyes that should dream
Have none to live
With day bygone
So is their innocence
Lost and forgotten
Vanished into thin air

How I wish I could buy
Their childhood and innocence
And give it back to them
So that those twinkling eyes
Will have a hope
For a better tomorrow