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Showing posts from November, 2017

Falsehood in Bharat

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One of my old colleagues in Delhi shared the above in his Facebook space today.  I was amused.  I controlled my amusement with a hearty laugh.  I did not comment.  In fact, I stopped commenting on the posts made by many of my Delhi friends because they are not even fit to be counted as jokes.  Blatant lies, that’s what they are.  But my friends in Delhi and other parts of North India believe they are truths.  In fact, these are ‘truths’ fabricated by BJP after it came to power in Delhi three and a half years ago.  I’m taking this as an example.  Just one out of the innumerable lies foisted on the nation as historical truths by the ruling party.  Knowledgeable people will ignore these.  At best, they will have hearty laughs like me.  I too kept on ignoring them.  But I was aghast when some of my students in Kerala (where I teach now) started taking some of these posts seriously.  This blog post is for their sake.  Beware, my young friends.  There is a lot of falsehood being fois

Bhima’s Passions

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Having just finished reading M T Vasudevan Nair’s Malayalam novel, രണ്ടാമൂഴം [ The Second Turn ], I wonder whether the award-winning novel would have been written today.  It was written in 1984 and went on to receive more than 50 reprints in Malayalam, let alone the translations.  The fate of movies like Padmavati makes me think that the novel would have attracted much controversy had it been published today. However, the novel is being made into a movie, the most expensive non-English movie with a budget of $155 million [INR 1000 crore].  Maybe India will be a different country by 2021, the year in which the movie will be completed, and the movie won’t court undue controversy.  The novel takes quite an unorthodox look at the Mahabharata. Bhima is the narrator and in his perspective no character is divine or even unduly superhuman.  Even Krishna appears as just another warrior and king of a small kingdom.  Bhishma gets hardly any importance since Bhima had little to do wit

The Perfect Man

Fiction “I can get you arrested for attempting to bribe a government officer,” Alex said imperiously to the man sitting in front of him. The man had come to get his contribution to the Labourers’ Welfare Fund assessed.  “One percent of the total cost of construction is the legal amount,” Alex had told him.  “I have assessed the cost of the construction of your house as ₹70 lakh.  So you have to contribute ₹70,000 to the Labourers’ Welfare Fund.” The man pleaded with Alex to reduce the cost of construction to ₹40 lakh.  “₹10,000 will be yours,” the man said sotto voce.  After threatening the man with imprisonment, Alex threw a glance at Leela who sat at the next table.  Leela was Alex’s colleague.  “Isn’t she impressed with my honesty?”  Leela pretended not to have heard anything and carried on with her work. It didn’t matter, of course.  His honesty was not meant to impress anyone.  He was an honest officer unlike other government officers.  He had an exemplary se

The Darkness of Padmavati

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Historians are not sure whether Padmavati is a mere legend or a historical figure.  That doesn’t matter either.  Objective truth is not the concern of most people.  People want convenient truths.  People want truths that serve their practical purposes.  Most religious truths belong to that category.  Padmavati is also one such expedient truth.  What is that truth?  I am Rani Padmavati, the Queen of Chittor.  People call me the Queen of Beauty.  I have never understood why our men bother about beauty at all.  They are warriors and love fighting. Bravery, physical strength and honour are the values they really cherish and want all of us to possess.  We cherish beauty too.  But we’d prefer to keep beauty veiled behind the purdah.  If anyone other than the husband dares to raise the purdah, he will be killed.  Beauty is a private property among us.  We, the women, are our men’s private properties. That is how my story of Padmavati began, a story which I wrote when the cont

Children and Crime

When children rush in where adults fear to tread, there is cause for concern.  Children are committing suicide for reasons as silly as being scolded by parents or teachers.  Children are committing crimes which adults would find repulsive.  Why is innocence fleeing from children? Germaine Greer described the library as “a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.”  The library is a treasure house of knowledge and information.  The library brings to you heroes and villains, notions and perversions, the saint and the sinner.  The library opens your inner eye and reveals the hidden secrets of the world.  While knowledge is a priceless treasure, it is also potential terror.  That is why the biblical God asked Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of knowledge.  Today children are exposed to a tremendous lot of information which most of them are not able to handle effectively.  The mobile phone with internet connection, the social media and the television

Rocks and Water

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Hogenakkal in Tamil Nadu bordering Karnataka is a place where rocks and water interplay to produce a unique symphony of nature.  Water keeps gushing from all around into a lake in which coracles (small round rafts) carrying tourists dance blissfully to the rhythms of the nature’s symphony.   I visited the place the other day with a group of students.  It was an awesome experience.  The rocks that tower all around you like a mammoth fortress look like a phenomenal sculpture.  Water has created its own unique artwork in those carbonatite rocks.  One can spend hours admiring the beauty of those rocks.  You can admire the waterfalls all around if you prefer.  The place is also described as the Niagara Falls of India because of the number of waterfalls that straddle the rocks.  I love water.  In fact, it’s quite a love affair that I share with water.  Water embraces you totally.  It engulfs you.  It swallows you.  But love affairs are private and I didn’t jump into the wate

The Vampire Within

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There was a period in my life when I regarded myself as the personification of perfection.  When I grew out of it I realised that the pretension was a subconscious ploy to conceal the painful conflicts within.  It took years and a lot of people’s relentless jabs and prods for me to come to terms with the insecurity feelings that haunted my inner being like a bloodsucking vampire.  When I exorcised the vampire from my being, I found myself withdrawing from society altogether.  I realised with some horror how unfit I was in the society: incapable of understanding people’s underlying motives and meanings and hence incapable of dealing with them without hurting myself.  Solitude becomes a soothing balm when you learn to accept it as your co-traveller.  There’s a young friend, however, who draws out words from me occasionally.  During one of the long conversations I had with this friend, I asked, “What is there in common between you and me that holds us together?”  Pat came th

Sex and the Indian

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Image Courtesy imdb Hardik Patel’s personal life has been made ‘viral’ by certain holier-than-thou Indians.  If anything, it underscores the hypocrisy that accompanies the Indian mindset like a holy cow. India is a country that is governed by people with heinous criminal records.  We have no qualms about accepting as our heroes people who are worse swindlers than mafia dons.  Mass murderers are elevated to the stature of gods and temples are constructed for them.  But when it comes to sex, we have a quaint sense of morality. Even Nehru has been drawn into the controversy and parallel are drawn between that great personality and Hardik Patel who is yet to prove anything except rabble-rousing skills.  Some BJP leaders even went to the ridiculous extent of posting pictures of Nehru hugging his own sister to show that he was a sex maniac.  Nehru might have had extramarital affairs.  Extramarital affairs are not justifiable as they pose serious threats to family bonds and

The Music of Romance

Fiction Solomon stared at the message.  It is not often that a message comes traversing twenty years and makes your heart skip a beat.  No, the message was not twenty years old.  He had had no contact whatever with the sender of that message for twenty years.  In those days, twenty years ago, she was a symphony that flowed through his veins. “You made me pass English.  Remember the guidebook you gave me?  And the tricks you suggested?  I passed English because of that.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be the teacher that I am today.  Thanks.  Sangeeta.” Solomon read the message again and again.  His heart pulsated faster and faster.  The heartbeats struggled to recreate a familiar symphony from the mounting feeling of nostalgia. Does she remember only the guidebook and his tricks for passing an exam?  Have you forgotten the math exam in which you showed me some answers so that I passed?  Your roll number just preceded mine and we were sitting on the same bench for the exam. 

End of Capitalism?

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Is Capitalism collapsing under its own weight?  German thinker Wolfgang Streeck believes it is.  He has written a book about it: How Will Capitalism End?   I don’t think I’ll read that book because the only review I read says that “it makes for tough reading.”  Though I don’t really mind tough books, economics is not my cup of tea. Capitalism has weakened many systems that people would like to have.  By nurturing individualism, it has weakened society.  Its cutthroat competition has weakened human cooperation.  By subjugating everything to money and trade, it has weakened human values as well as political systems.  Yes, the trader is more powerful today than the politician, thanks to capitalism.  That’s a situation which the shrewd politician won’t like at least though right now we have the politician and the trader colluding with each other. Streeck argues that the weakening of social and political systems has generated five systemic disorders: “stagnation, oligarchic redi

Children and Heaven

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Jesus bequeathed heaven to children.  “Let little children come to me,” he said, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  If he meant the heaven that awaits the faithful after death, that place must be quite vacant.   Childhood itself is the heaven.  Did Jesus mean that?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think so.  To expect adults to retain childlike innocence is mere wishful thinking.  Even a god cannot afford to be so impractical.  The child’s innocence is quite ruthless.  A four year-old boy was waiting for his father the other day in my school after classes.  I went and sat near him as I was waiting for my wife who teaches in the same school.  During the innocent, casual conversation I struck with him, the boy stared at my hair and asked, “Why is your hair so white-white?” “Time has dyed it white,” I said naughtily, “Isn’t it stylish?” “No,” he said emphatically without a moment’s hesitation.  His body language, a vigorous shirk of the shoulders and the nod of the head w

Platonic Love

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My Queen, Walk into my wax palace And peer into my eyes. Words will melt away As the lamps will light themselves On their pedestals And the wax won’t melt away. The bow will play on the taut violin strings, And a whole orchestra will resonate In the background, gently, lovingly. The chalices will fill themselves. We will drink with our eyes. The angels of love will blush Behind the lamps on wax pedestals; The demons of darkness Will blink from yonder. My Queen, Walk into my wax palace Where words have no role to play.