Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What is Indian Culture!

I recently visited Ladakh which I always thought as a magical and mystical land. And so it is. The Place is so stunning that when you see it for first time you can’t help but get overawed. What make it mystical, apart from moon like terrain, are its denizens, most of who practice Buddhism, a mystical religion and way of life. Ladakh literally means land of high passes, surrounded by greater Himalayan passes, some of which are highest in world. Being in rain shadow, it hardly ever rains in Ladakh which explains the harsh, rocky dessert terrain. Ladakhis have a unique culture of their own which was created by various influences from traveling mendicants of Tibet to tradesmen stopping -by en-road the legendry skill route.

The joy of travel and seeing a new place increases when you can indulge in a culture different than yours. While on a trek in Ladakh with my friend, I stayed with a Ladakhi family in a village as there were no hotels or lodges in the area. It was wonderful to spend time in a traditional Buddhist family. They invited us in their kitchen, let us see Buddhist prayer being performed by a lama, all the while supplying us Thukpa and hot tea. We got to know why our search for a local climbing guide called Norbu was fruitless, because every second ladakhi boy has Norbu as his middle name. While we were soaking in this new culture, we observed how kids of house were glued to television kept in a corner of kitchen. And no, they were not watching any Ladakhi channel or program, but some Hindi serial on zee TV. One of those serials which show beautiful women draped in glamorous saris plotting against each other and men who are rich but never seem to work and still live in palatial houses. So how would this exposure to Mumbai- Delhi culture (TV), change new generation of Ladakhi kids? It is said that Ladakhis never waste anything. They use and reuse everything which is locally available. Their houses are made of sand bricks, because sand is all around them. Water is scarce so where-ever get little water, they turn the land into a mini green oasis. Instead of using water to flush toilets, they use pits to store the human waste and convert it into manure for their farms. Nothing really gets wasted there. But it is changing slowly. Now a new supply chain is opened from rest of India and locals don’t have to be frugal anymore. Many will call it Ladakh’s integration with India. Or would it be Ladakh's dependence on India!!

Renowned lyricist Gulzar was in Tribal district of Chamba in Himachal recently and he was aghast and angry by change in art and music tradition of locals. During a function he found tribal singers singing bollywood songs. In a public speech he lamented this “erosion of culture”, or as he termed it.

Then while browsing TV, I happened to watch some program where a little 5 years old girl was performing in a talent hunt. She danced to a very garish bollywood item song as her mother watched adoringly. One of the Judges, Sonali Bendre was shocked and other judge Shekhar Kapoor asked the kid to stop midway. They couldn’t understand why a little kid was asked to perform on a number which was way beyond her age. But after the episode, Shekhar Kapoor while reflecting on incident said something which is very pertinent question. He said "We can’t really blame these kids. They are merely doing what they see on TV everyday. And they see Indian culture. If Indian culture today is not Bollywood music and dance, then what is it". What is Indian culture, indeed?

If Indian culture's richness came from its diversity, if it came from a Ladakhi tradition or a Chamba's tribal folk, then how long will it survive against a bollywood cultural onslaught which is beamed into every house and which has defined a certain lifestyle which Indian middle class aspires for.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the Threshold of Eternity

Oil on canvas by Vincent Van Gogh.

Clinical depression is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.

The understanding of the nature and causes of depression has evolved over the centuries, though many aspects of depression remain incompletely understood and are the subject of discussion and research. Psychological, psycho-social, evolutionary and biological causes have been proposed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What is wrong with Pakistan?

Pakistan is in doldrums. It has fallen into bad times. It is being labeled as everything from a failed state to a global headache. Many have been asking this question: What is wrong with Pakistan?

In My opinion the picture below answers the question very well.

It is picture of Pakistani women's cricket team praying on cricket field after defeating Srilankan team recently in a world cup match. Some comments on a popular Pakistani blog, Pakistaniat, pretty much summaries why this picture is symbolic of all that is wrong with Pakistan:

One atheist says :
its not a good sign to bring religion into everything especially things like this cricket match which was between two countries and not two religions. thanking god is a good thing but that should have been a personal gesture and not in the middle of a stadium. sports and religion shouldn’t be clubbled. isn’t mixing the religion with _all_ aspects of life one of the biggest problem for the country ?
adeel writes:

there are two things in this picture

I am not sure what to make of this picture. I guess if the girls really do want to display their gratitude like this, it is their choice.

A wise man once said that the best form of service to God was not to make a show of it. One could infer that more subtle forms of showing thankfulness are desirous as Allah does not need to actually see us prostrate to accept it. By the way, the wise man’s name is Ali (r.a).

On the other hand, if the girls are saying one of their daily prayers, I guess a mosque or a prayer room is more suited for it than a cricket pitch - unless it was hot inside!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dev D - In Love with Sluts

Nah, this is not a review of movie. If you are looking for a review , I suggest you check this one out on Passion for Cinema but do stay away from Taran Adarsh and his ilk.

This is just a short note on Movie. I have watched it couple of times and possible more and I guess I am gonna watch it couple of times more.

For me, personally, Pardeshi song in Movie pretty much summarizes the whole experience.The setting of the song, the state in which Dev is at that point in life, on cusp of ejecting out from Paro's orbit and falling into Chanda's, the 3 guys dancing in bar, the graffiti on the wall behind them, everything is piece of art and brilliant cinema. Dev D gets drunk and stoned and those who have ever had that sort of experience would know that the scene of Dev walking to loo during the scene and putting his face into water, with blood oozing out of his mouth, the numbness and what follows pretty much says it all. Incredible music and lyrics to match it,.......

"o pardesi, o pardesi,
mitha sa chadha hai bukhar,
he re mai thahra pardesi!"

Umm....That feeling, how well it has been put into words....."Meetha sa bukhar"

Cheers to pain, agony, addiction to self destruction and aimless wandering....... and there is Chanda , with cig in her hand, sitting cross legged, watching Dev stumbling into her room.......WELCOME HOME.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Muthalik, Sri ram sene - a Coward and his impotent followers

India is country of paradoxes. If it has generated some incredible spiritual thoughts in times when rest of world was walking around the planet naked and hunting deer, it has also at same time, produced some insanely stupid men in times when world has progressed from caves to computers.

One such men is one called Muthalik in Bangalore (or Bangaluru) . Now this Muthalik is a head of fringe group called Sri Ram Sene which nobody in this country knew until few weeks back. Until these guys walked into a pub in tow with TV cameras and beat up women present in the pub to protect Indian culture. Since then these guys have been making all kinds of comments on what they think Indian culture is and how they will beat anybody to protect this culture against any (perceived or real) corruption. Now I can analysis this logically and write a erudite piece here to explain this phenomenon, and how it is a tussle between India and Bharat, but that would be useless. Because neither these guys understand any logic or reasoning, nor do they deserve it. All they deserve is an answer in their own language which is one of violence and hatred. I hate people like Muthalik because he is as ugly as an asshole and he stink badly. He needs good thrashing. And that is what all of his so called supporters need as well. They need to be fought against in their own language. Using language of violence.

Muthalik is a pest. He cant be a Hindu because he is not even half a man. Just by wearing vermilion on his forehead he does not become a Hindu or its spoksperson. He is sort of guy who would not even respect his own mother. Because he thinks that beating women is Hindu culture, on one or other pretext. For me he is not any different than the Muslim Mullah who wants to marry 10 women and want to keep them covered in name of culture and God.

So I support all these protests against Muthalik and his fringe sex-starved (presumption but so be it) group of supports. There are women who want to send him pink chaddies this valentine's day, and I say, women, do it, by all means. There are people who want to hug publicly this valentines’ day and there are those who want to "pub bharo"... do all of this. But I say, go beyond it. If these people come in herds (like cowards usually come) to beat you, you retaliate. Beat them back. Break their heads. Hit them hard where it hurt the most. Don’t be afraid.

We need to do it now because these fringe groups, these Taliban like forces are spreading deep and wide and faster than we think. They are spreading like weed which needs to be uprooted now or else it will be too late.

So guys, stamp on them wherever you see them. Indian culture can do far better without these insane, half witted, men who use sacred vermilion to cover their own cowardice. So Mr. Muthalik , I am Hindu. I believe in God and I don’t. I celebrate Khajuraho as much as I celebrate messages in Gita. I will do all that which this country lawfully let me do. You keep out of my life, our life, and if you don’t like what we do, burry yourself in sand and if you coward come and want to fight with me, come like a man, alone, .........not with your cowards sena, not with your herd of impotent followers. And Muthalik did nobody tell you even that look more like Ravana than Ram!!