Saturday, May 26, 2012

The 'Nirmal baba' phenomena

SCENE I ( Nirmal Darbar ) :
“Baba , I haven’t been able to study “
“Hmmm …when was the last time you ate gulab-jamun ? “
“I don’t remember babaji . Maybe 5-6 months “
“See ! Go eat them today , distribute some . Kripa will come “

Replace the gulab-jamun with samosa/rasmallai/burning incense/chaat/visiting some old mosque/wearing yellow shirts ….and all kinds of CRAP you can think of .
The man sits on a throne like chair , smiling ,waving his hands and distributing ‘kripa’ . He is omnipresent .
From news channels to entertainment channels to devotional ones .. he has one hour segments booked for himself !

It’s been two weeks since I first heard of Nirmal Baba !
A news telecast showing ‘FIR launched against Nirmal Baba ji’ .

At that time , I thought he must be one of those numerous Godmen spreading their charms ,and left it at that .
But over those two weeks , slowly , grudgingly , my feelings towards him have changed from interest to amusement to wonder to RESPECT !

Respect ? You’ll ask .
Yes , respect for his sheer shamelessness . His outright boldness in coming up and milking the Indian public for all we are worth .
What he is doing isn’t anything new . There have been frauds before him , and many more shall follow .
But his USP lies in the fact that ,he is doing it in the face !
No pretending , no religious gibber-gabber ,no dressing up like a sadhu , no yoga ,no giving ‘pravachans ‘ .
 All he does is , sit on his throne , give people random CRAPPY advice and asks them to give money in turn .

For proof  ,check this out :

And the BEWILDERNG ( actually not that bewildering , once you look at it ) fact is , people comply .
They come in herds and bow down to him , citing examples of how taking his name solves half their problems .
( The guy who filed the case , had been depositing 1/10 of his salary into his account every month ! )

The entire phenomenon represents all that is wrong about religion in society today .
The real devotion , real meaning of God , the actual teachings of religions have lost been lost .
At one time ,religion had been a path along which we could find Him ,if we follow it dutifully .
We , have twisted religion into something to be feared , something to be squeezed ( and gained favours from ) , something to be manipulated according to our will .

All we see are our gains . The moment we are told ,
“Go worship your old sandals .It will bring you INSTANT gratification . “
We’ll do it !
Because somewhere down the lane , that’s what religion is all about …fearing , bribing , getting your work done and falling prey ti the eternal weakness , GUILT .

And until this mindset isn’t dealt with , there will be many more Nirmal babas . And many more ‘devotees’ .

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The mango thief

Chunni caught hold of the railings and peeped outside .
It was a regular May afternoon . The world outside looked deserted . Everything blazing under the wrath of the sun , yellow , dry or sweating .

No cycles were in sight ,the rickshaw-wala was peacefully snoring under the hood . Chunni knew that nothing could wake him up from his slumber , no matter how many passengers came ,or how many kids went and did ‘tring tring’ his rickshaw bell .
The cow had settled peacefully under her usual shadowy abode , next to he wall .

Even that one-eyed puppy , who would run behind every scooter and car ,was nowhere to be seen .
And that mango tree in the orchard , it looked so lonely .

“Chunni ! come arrange the dishes . Where did you escape off to ?”
She skipped down from the stool she was standing on , startled . She had almost forgotten about amma .
She stood on her toes , took one last peep outside . A small sigh escaped her , and then she went darting into the main house .

The silence inside just mirrored the laziness on the streets .
Badi maa had gone to sleep . Her room cold , dark and filled with that intoxicating smell of cooler grass .
Bhaiya was busy on his computer .She could hear he faint ‘tak tak tak’ . 
And as she ran downstairs ,she could hear the rustling of fans , didi laughing on the phone and dadi was busy reciting something from her big book .

She ran so fast ,the door banged against the wall as she nearly collided with her amma in the kitchen .
“You girl ! you are like a little mouse ! Suddenly you will appear and make the house go mad .
Go , put some of your energy into cleaning and drying those dishes “

She started scrubbing them clean . Her eyes staring at her own distorted image in the plate .
A ting nose ; wide eyes ,always blinking ;ting small teeth ( though bhaiya ji said that they were as strong and sharp as mice ) ; and fuzzy hair ,it took amma full 15 mins. To oil and plait them in the morning .
She didn’t even realize that she almost slipped on the discarded mango peels .
Mango !

Her bright eyes shone for a second ,then fizzed out again .
He hadn’t appeared for four days .She had first seen him a week back ,climbing the tall mango tree in the orchard .
He was as tiny as her .Although his face looked like a ‘langur’ .And he climbed like one too .
Every afternoon he would be there . Jumping like a professional .

The first day , she had thought of alarming Thakur ,the big burly watchman .
But he had already spotted her behind the window , and widened his puppy like eyes from the branch above.

Before she knew ,he had snatched two mangoes ,jumped down ,placed one on her palm and disappeared with the cheekiest grin on his monkey face .
Since then ,he would repeat it every day . One mango , one flash of teeth , and then “poof !” , gone !

She placed the last plate on the shelf .,absent mindedly scratching her head .
Maybe he was sick ! Chintu said that her dad had fallen on the road because of heat that day .
Or maybe he went somewhere . Like bhabhi , didi , bhaiya and uncleji go every year .
Or maybe Thakur caught him ! no no no .. Then she would have heard something .

“Take this . Why don’t you eat anything nowadays “
She stared at the mango amma had shoved in her hand . Shinning , ripe , full , yellowed .
But she knew that it would be tasteless .
All mangoes felt like paper now . Maybe , that monkey knew how to steal really good ones .

She started climbing the stairs , skipping steps and dreamily scratching the paint of the walls .
‘I will ask Tipu . That monster keeps roaming behind his father’s milk cycle . He would know’
‘Or Malti chachi ! She washes clothes for the all the houses in the area “
But then , amma will come to know !
Uffff ! She threw that stupid mango on the wall …

She finally stepped into her room . Dark , quiet , filled with the musky smell of old clothes , jars of spices , oil , turmeric and God knows what not !
She hastily turned to close the window . Amma will get angry if any flies or something came in .

And there , on the window ,lay a mango . Tiny , dusty , a bit squashed ,ripened under the sun .
The sweetest mango in the entire world .

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Glued back together ...

On a few crumpled pieces of paper
So many stories I had once written
Droplets of colours smeared on my palm
I had drawn entire universes with fragile fingers

There used to this fogged up mirror
In front of which ,I would make faces for hours
This old ,torn , dirty doll I had once  
He and I would fight and make-up so many times

The ink on those scattered pages has faded
The colours washed away under torrents of rain
The mirror also cracked , my doll died
But I have still glued them ,and kept them close

Soemtimes , puppets still dance in those musty pages
Peep into those cracks , and you can see old faces
My doll still gives a rare flash of his old smile
Memories glued back together ,they almost reunite at times
Reunite at times …

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hum aur humara U.P.

The other day , I was chatting with my Bengali friend .
I got really pissed off at someone and ( angreji gayi choolhe mein ) strated ranting off in hindi .
As soon as I stopped , she began giggling ,”Now that was typical UP ki hindi “
Banaras Ghats

Which made me realize . How come I have never written a blog about hamara UP :-D
From the ‘tehzeeb’ and ‘nawabs’ of Lucknow , the ghats of Benaras , the temples of Brindavan , the Ganga at Haridwar , the ‘thugoo ke laddo’ of Kanpur , the Sangam at Allahabad , and of’course , the Taj ( excluding it’s corridor ) at Agra . 

Hum pesh karte hai  , Hamara UP *adaab arz hai*

1.Hamare UP ki chai 

“Tanik dudhwa kam daliyega . Chai maange hai , sarbat naahi “

Trust me , I’ve tasted chai in every part of the country ( and sometimes, outside the country ) . 
But there is something about hamari UP ki chai .
The way people scream across offices/fields/roads/houses ,”Bhaiya jeeeeeeeeeeee… chai piyoge kaa ? “
No matter whether you get something or not , chai toh milegi hi !
‘Kulhad’ waali station chai , that special ‘masala waali cutting chai’ , the thick ‘kadak’ chai seeping through tiny pores of ‘chhalni’ .

The tea leaves are the same , the sugar and milk too .But I guess it’s the UP ka flavour which makes it more special .

2.Hamare UP ki shaadi 

Bhaiya aisa hai , ki shaadi toh you need to see in UP ! 

The firing of fire-arms , the dance in Baraats ( and there is always that ONE guy who does a bawaaliya ‘naagin’ dance ) , the fighting over buffet and the photo-shoot of the dulan ( with flowers in the background and that red saree )
The bride’s family cursing the groom’s in songs ( if you have been to village marriages ).
The way chachi , bua , tai , mami , bhauji , mausi , naati , poti , gaav waali ‘dooooor’ ki nanad get together and gossip . Music to the ears gentlemen .

And the super loud ( totally off beat ) band wala playing “aaj mere yaar ki shaadi hai  .
Aye haye , karejwa maan aag lag jaat hai ! ;-)

3.Hamare UP ka khana 

Ye toh aapko kahin aur mil hi nahi sakta ( you just cannot get it anywhere else ) .
The khasta , poori , kachauri , oil soaked bread-rolls ,matar-paneer and chhole combo on
Special’ occasions !

Lucknow ke kabab , Mathura ke pede , Agra ke pethe , Kanpur ke laddoo .. all epic in themselves .
The imarti , gujiya , 20 different types of milk sweets ,thandai , Chandra-kala ( again ,a village delicacy ) and the most exquisite , CHAAT ! 

If you are a UPite ( even if you aren’t ) you’ll be drooling over your keyboard right now :D

4. Hamare UP ki kala
UP is the home to Kathak , one of the ancient ( and still surviving ) dance forms .

Not to mention ,the seat of Hindustani classical music ( the other form of Indian classical music is the Carnatic music .. in South India  )

Most of the hindi ( and urdu ) literature arose from UP .
Munshi Premchand ,one of the foremost hindi-urdu authors .

From the urdu shayars under nawabs , to the forlorn kavis writing on the banks of Ganga , we have held our heads high .

Be it the chikan-work of Lucknow , the Benarasi silk sarees ,the jamdani weaving , the 'batik' work or the famous 'attar' from those long forgotten bazaars ...
You know why the we are a bit 'high handed' at times ;-) 

But of’course , (if you are in UP ) you can never ignore the Bhojpuri music and the timeless classics ( saiyyan magan Pahalwani mein , Rus gayel sayya hamar , Aye Sawaan ki Bela ) 

Of’course ,in case you haven’t enjoyed the bliss of Bhojpuri … you can always opt for James Bond (translated ) ;-)
“hammar naam ba Bond … James Bond “

5. Paan aur Politics . 
'Paan' has always been a part of 'nawabi' tehzeeb . 
Those crimson paans ,and silver spitoons are inseparable from the Awadhi culture .
 However , thins do degrade with time .
I have a feeling that Paan Parag and Rajnigandha ( and other such poisons ) have been running solely on Uttar Pradesh .

The amount of paan masala , paan ki paati , choona , kattha , bidi ( and God knows what not ) that gets consumed everyday , is staggering .
And then of’course , there is the ‘peek’ .On the road , in offices , schools , hotels , shamshaan ghats ..omnipresent !

I have a feeling Congress should adopt the “peek” as their election symbol in our state  .Maybe that’ll help :D
Ah ! We are the one of biggest states ,and still send the largest number of MPs to the centre .

But alas , caste politics zindabaad ! We are caught between two parties . How do we say it in hindi ?
‘Ek ser toh dooja sava ser” *sigh*

Ganga Arti - Haridwar

All in all , I have left a lot of things out . It’s almost impossible to cover the entire state in one article . 

Yes , we are not the most developed state ( *cheeky grin* ) . But then , we’ll get there one day .If statues stop erecting themselves and people don’t get trampled under cycles .
Ji ,humara Lucknow

But the UP spirit of living ,our ‘majakiya andaaz’ , the bhaukali style , the ‘never say die’ attitude is something you wouldn’t find anywhere .

      Kabhi tashreef laiye . You'll love it :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Great Chennai Summers !

*camera shifts into focus*
You are walking in a haphazard fashion . Clothes sticking to you back ,you armpits ( and other pits in general ).
Tongue lolling out in distress , skin glittering with an unnatural sheen and your hair plastered flat over your eyes ( if you have coconut oil on . Oh well, That’s a bonus treat ) 
Infact  , you are so disoriented that hallucinations of Amma serving you ‘sambhar sadam’   float in front of your eyes .

Well , welcome to Chennai summers .
That lovely season of the year when roads glitter with heat , lungis get folded as high as possible ( sometimes even higher ) and the demand for ‘moar’ ( read buttermilk ) increases tenfold .

The sweat .
If you live in a hostel with no air-conditioner/cooler in your room ( Yes , my story ) …You would definitely know what am I talking about .
It just dosen’t come out , it flows . It seeps in , it soaks the very existence of your being .

 Infact , I would like to quote Tennyson’s ‘Brook’ here ,
“By thirty hills I hurry down, Or slip between the ridges;
By twenty thorps, a little town, And half a hundred bridges.
Till last by Philip's farm I flow, To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.”

Metaphorically speaking , replace the hills with with our nose , ear , eye lids , thighs , belly , bum ( or any other curves you might have ) .
Replace the ridges with your armpits , the little town with your belly button and the bridges with your fingers .
The Philips’ farm can very well be some areas down there ( shhhh … Idhu adult blog illae sir . Please understand ) 
And yes , you’ve got the general picture . 

Ps – Getting up in the middle of the night ,realizing there is a layer of sweat between you and the bed sheet .
 It makes you wonder why people waste money on saunas :D

The Power Cut .
Yes, thankfully we have it for just two hours in namma Chennai .It’s around 9-10 hours in dear old Coimbatore and elsewhere .
Have you seen ever seen exorcism ? no ?

Vaangu sir . come to our hostel during (4-6)pm  .People will be roaming with eyes dilated , hair all dishevelled and torn and I would rather not discuss the state of (un)dress ;-)

Some might be found shaking uncontrollably , staring vacantly into space or abusing/shouting/banging walls without any apparent reason . 

Ah ! the simple joys of standing fully clothed under shower and (literally) soaking the marvel of nature , water :D

The solution .
Enna sir ? Namma Chennai la … In our Chennai you will be finding all solutions sir .

Lungi rocks – I am sorely tempted to try my first one this summer . The sheer bliss of feeling air circulating around Philip’s farm !
And automatic air control included .Just shorten it as the temperature keeps soaring ;-)

Coconut – God bless it ! Rs.10 worth of Heaven’s manna .

The talcum powder – Do it macha style da ! Spray it , pour it , bathe in the ecstasy and frangrance of this gift of cosmetics .
Make sure it reaches all the crevices ( It might take some practice before you cover all crevices . But don’t give up hope ) :P

Marina Beach – Pack your lunch , put on your shiniest shirt ,some sexy goggles ( a gold chain wouldn’t go amiss either ) and just hop on .
Just mind you step . Considering the amount of ‘chinna papas’ ( read, nasty brats ) that roam around , you might stumble over and fall face down in someone’s ‘bhajji’ plate leftover :D

General caution : Please avoid buses between (6-8) pm . Trust me ,Hitler could’ve learnt a few tricks for his gas chambers from them !!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fallen leaf

And btw , someone turned 23 yesterday . THANK YOU .
To all those people who called and wished and made me feel so special :D