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When Arif Mohammed Khan becomes a Hindu

Pic from Manorama Arif Mohammad Khan, the governor of Kerala, declared himself a Hindu yesterday while addressing the Hindu Conclave at Thiruvananthapuram. The term Hindu is not religious but geographical, he asserted with his characteristic disarming smile. ‘Hindu’ is a geographical term denoting the people of a region, the whole of India. I was excited. Patriotism surged in my veins. Goosebumps embraced my entire body. I am a Hindu, I said to myself. Now I can enter the temple which has been denying entry to famous people like K J Yesudas because of the temple authority’s ignorance about what ‘Hindu’ means. ‘No entry for non-Hindus,’ says a board outside that temple (and many other temples in Kerala). But my governor gave me hope. So I went to the temple. The board is still there. The temple looks slightly different from usual. The crowd is less and there are a lot of police around. Something is wrong, I can see. Maybe, Mr Khan has inspired a lot of other Indians like me and t
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Valli – Review

Title: Valli Author: Sheela Tomy Translated from Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil Publisher: Harper Perennial 2022 Pages: 407 “It is not the creatures in the forest that we have to fear, it is the creatures among us.” An Adivasi girl named Kali sings those lines in Sheela Tomy’s debut novel, Valli . That is the central message of the novel. Kali is a daughter of the forest. The novel is the story of the degeneration of Wayanad, erstwhile abode of many Adivasis in Kerala. The so-called civilised people from the plains invaded the land of mist and mystery, forests and folklore and brought into it what is known in the mainland as ‘development’. A whole mountain vanished and tourist resorts came up in its place. Forests gave way to townships. “Brokers bringing booze, sex and other amenities into ‘homestays’ sauntered between the township’s grey buildings…” A whole culture that sustained the forests and the hills and the rivers died. It was killed. “Young women transformed themsel

Micro stories

  1. Atheist becomes God " I'll   perform the same miracle that the godman performed just now," Atheist said. He waved his fist in the air as solemnly as Godman had done a while back. Then he opened his fist. "Voila!" he said displaying the ash in his palm. "Simple trick," he said. "Sleight of hand." He waved his hand again and then opened his fist which now contained a golden ring. "Only looks gold, actually fake," he grinned. He explained how he did it too. "No miracle, simple magic." The godman was furious. His devotees now thronged before Atheist. They were falling prostrate at his feet. 2. Dead Sure A man believed he was dead. He stopped eating and lay down in bed quietly. "Do the dead bleed?" The psychiatrist asked. "No," the man said. Psychiatrist took a blade and made a small incision on the man's arm which started bleeding. "See?" Psychiatrist asked. "Yup, I understand,"


   Photo by Sean Oulashin on Unsplash Carl Sagan, scientist and writer, was of the opinion that science has humility in its openness to reality, in its constant readiness to correct itself. Religion, on the other hand, claims to possess absolute truths. Such a claim underscores the hubris of religions. Humility is an awareness of our limits and limitations. That does not mean that we ignore our strengths. Humility comes from a healthy and clear self-awareness. I am this and only this. You may be sitting on the highest throne in the country. But you must be aware that you are sitting on your bottom. In fact, humility has little to do with top or bottom. It is not about you at all, so to say. As Rick Warren put it, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” There is no ego, in other words. There is only the clear, transparent self. And that self is aware of its oneness with the cosmic reality, with the billions of gargantuan stars and plane

When a few live life king size

Ganga Vilas PM Modi flagged off the world’s longest river cruise on 13 Jan 2023. The Ganga Vilas will take you from the holy city of Varanasi to the industrial city of Dibrugarh in 51 days at a cost of Rs55 lakh per suite . A suite accommodates two travellers. The charge can be more if you opt for emperor size journey instead of king size. A few people live their life king size in India now. India belongs to them according to a recent Oxfam report titled Survival of the Richest: The India Story . The richest one percent of Indians own more than 40% of the country’s wealth, according to the report. The richest 100 people in India have a total wealth of Rs54.12 lakh crore which is equal to one-and-a-half years of the central budget. A few rich Indians have the economic potential to buy the country if they wish. [They are already doing it very surreptitiously with the help of the central government which is more than happy to sell the public sector units and forests and minerals and

Conversations with God

Inside a church in Kottayam The novel which I’m reading currently is the English translation of the Malayalam Valli by Sheela Tomy. It received rave reviews in standard publications and that is the reason why I decided to read it. Having read about a hundred pages, I must say that it’s a charming work. It’s musical. It’s a symphony. But I’ll write a proper review after I read the whole of it. Right now, I wish to speak about the conversations that a character named Varky has with his God, Jesus, whom he calls Karthav (Malayalam for Lord). Varky is a drunkard. When he is drunk, he becomes more chatty with his Karthav. In one of his final chats with Karthav, before the deluge carries him away, Varky says, “Look at Him just sitting there! After turning water into wine to vex people for evermore! It was your Divine Majesty, wasn’t it, that made our Kalyani here (the woman who supplies him with locally brewed liquor) spicy and poor Magdalena Mariam pretty? And then you go around keeping

Of Awards and Honours

William Hazlitt counselled his son to keep the people around him happy if he was to rise to prominent positions in life. “Without their support, you may rise but very heavily.” That is how the advice remains in my memory. If you want to rise in career, you need other people’s support. When I was teaching this lesson, my class eleven students immediately commented merrily: “ Chamchagiri,” flattery . I was teaching in a residential school in Delhi at that time. Residential schools are like extended families. Everybody knows everybody else too well just like in a family. Hence they suffer one another too just like in a family. Otherwise residential schools will crumble like a house of cards. When you live with other people 24x7, you know everyone too well to point a finger at anyone openly. That sort of knowledge builds up relationships too. You love and you hate. It’s all part of the game and the game goes on much better than in day schools. Flattery plays an immense role in such a s