A Quaint Guest


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From Google

It was perhaps the beginning of December…..no, November….last year, when I realised that my territory was getting repeatedly invaded by an uninvited guest who had this quaint habit of arriving without any prior announcement or permission and having arrived so, showing signs of  positive reluctance  to leave  even if forcibly shown the door. Now, don’t you consider that rude and extremely inhospitable of me because the guest that I am talking about is not a member of the human species. Had it been so, I wouldn’t even have bothered to write a post on my travails.

The first that I became conscious of its existence inside my domain was when dear Rinky (my indolent pet) started sniffing and snooping odd corners of the flat as though in search of a hidden trail. But as is her nature, in no time she got bored of the project and gave up on a quest which seemed not significant or worthy enough of her valued industry. Of course! Nothing on this earth is that important for her to persist on, except those that prompt an exercise of her salivary glands or induce the soporific state that she loves to be all the time.

Now coming to this gatecrasher….I’d rather call it the trespasser…made its existence felt when it landed on a discovery mission of my household. I would see a sudden swish of a thing dashing past me in the kitchen or the bedroom at the oddest hours when I would be least expecting a botheration. At first I thought it was one of those optical illusions I am quite prone to.  Gradually, however, its manoeuvres escalated in frequency as well as decibel, so much so that I could no longer ignore its presence, howsoever effervescent, it happened to be.

My initial ignorance or oversight must have emboldened it because one fine evening when watching TV I suddenly found a muddy brown furry thing peeping at me from behind the set top box. On one another occasion I saw a pair of quizzical eyes staring at me from across the gas stove on the kitchen slab. On my raising the alarm it dived towards the window and hid behind the panes. On another occasion I saw it sliding out of a narrow opening between the window frame and the pane. So that was the secret route by which the pest   would let itself in and out. Not only convenient but very ingenious indeed!

However, as the miscreant became bolder planned action to oust it became imperative. So, the next day I put up the trap in the kitchen near the cabinet where I had seen it snooping around and waited till nightfall absolutely certain that this time it could not evade captivity. Next morning, to my great astonishment, I found the trap empty while the piece of bread which was hung on the hook inside the trap as the bait gone. However, the trap door was open which implied that the devil had employed some extraordinary technique to eat away the bread without letting itself be trapped inside. Ingenuity again!!

But I was Robert Bruce’s disciple, wasn’t I? So, the next day I set the trap with a bigger piece of bread as the bait. The idea was to tempt it to nibble at the larger piece so that as soon as there would be the slightest of pull, the hook by which the bread was hung would snap, closing the door of the trap imprisoning the nibbler. Such a well thought out strategy. I could not help but rub my hands in glee and pat my back in self-appreciation.

However, I was again in for a shock, of a different kind, this time when next day I found the trap empty and the bread dangling by the hook  a little dried up and morose, on being rejected and not found worthy of a nibble. I was, to put it very mildly, crestfallen. In the meanwhile, the rascal kept me aware of its hovering presence in the house by various auditory tactics – a slight shuffle here and a slight screech there!

The problem seemed insolvable as I kept calculating in vain the extent of damage it must have already made or would be making inside my wardrobe, linen cabinet, shoe-rack, bed box…..

My maid took pity on my plight and suggested that I put pieces of freshly baked roti inside the trap as she informed that its whiff was quite irresistible to ‘them’. I took her advice and placed the trap at a strategic angle next to the kitchen cabinet where I knew it was hiding after all the plunder. In the middle of the night, a loud crash startled me up. Hurrah! I did it! I could have almost danced a jig as I figured out that the trap had shut and inside it would be the truant at last. Yes! I was right!!

But my travails did not end in rhapsody. Instead of being frightened, the scoundrel, at first squeaked loud protests at being trapped and then settled down to hold a looooooooong conversation with me throughout the night!

But the next morning when I took the trap to release the occupier in the nearest park I was again in for a surprise. I opened the trap door and upturned it for the furry imp to bounce out onto the grass bed. But lo! It stuck to the other end clutching at the sides of the trap positively reluctant to move out. The trap is made of thin tin sheet cut in the pattern of lattices for air to pass through. I thought perhaps its claws had got caught in the lattice-work at the sides. I shook the trap hard so that it could be ejected out with a jerk. The park is infested with stray canines on the hunt for such feasts. Once earlier such a prisoner had shot out of the trap right into the salivating mouth of one of my stray friends. I did not want that to happen again.

The exercise of slapping it out of its stubborn stance took some time. It suddenly fell out in a momentum and stood confused on the ground not certain what had transpired and where to scoot off next. Soon good sense prevailed and it bolted inside a long tunnel dug by the side of the flower bed by one of its older mates.

I got back home relieved swinging the trap in my hand.

***

Alas! The relief was short-lived. An hour hadn’t passed when the mischief monger was back in full swing prancing around as though my flat were its own. Repeat exercises of imprisoning and compelling it to shake out of its comfort zone followed not once but so many more times that I lost count. Again a gem of an advice from my maid to release it somewhere farther down from where it would not be able to find its way back.  Though, there was no way to be absolutely sure yet we worked on the assumption that the same ‘un returned every time we threw the intruder out unceremoniously. To my chagrin, I found its road sense was too perfect to be fudged by long distances and unknown locales.

Resigned to my inefficiency, I delegated my maid to handle its departure. “Tell the plunderer not to return ….” I would hiss as she prepared to leave with the trap in hand.  But as days passed the stern order devolved to a croaky plea.

Soon it was I who gave up and almost accepted it as one of the householders. The offender flourished at my expense and became the most eligible one to breed a brood. So it was not a surprise when my mother pointed out that now instead of one there were three of them – mother and two of her offspring.

As a routine I laid the trap and prayed to God that this would be the last. In the early hours of dawn I put on the light and squinted hard. Was there something inside? Yes there was. A tiny tot sticking its head out of one of the latticed holes of the trap – its slender tail wagged in delight (of getting caught?) while a pair of twinkling eyes stared right into mine. I was afraid it might squeeze out of the narrow slits of the trap. It was so thin and small. But it seemed to stay put.

It was a working day with a very tight schedule. I checked inside the trap there was enough bread to sustain it for a day. So I let it stay one more night beside my bed safely ensconced inside the trap.

The next day being a weekend I took my own sweet time to release it out of the trap into the park. But as I did so I found that it had got its head badly stuck inside the latticed hole. I thumped the trap hard on the low park wall so that the jerks could help it to wriggle its head out. But it stayed like that – its tail swinging lightly and heart thudding rapidly. It was still alive. I could not let it die like that. So I tried to push its head out but it would not budge. Its body had shrivelled and felt wet to my touch. Fright! I could figure that out. I poked its head softly so that it would squirm to my touch which would let its head out of the steely knot….but it just kept staring into my eyes not knowing what to do and how to come out of the trap. I tried once more……. and then again …..and again…..and again….to somehow get the head out of that narrow hole. But it just lay still and then it went limp….It had breathed its last out of sheer fear while its eyes still burnt into mine.

Next few minutes were a blur. I called out to the stray ones perhaps to pull the lifeless body out of the trap. They declined. And then a passer-by who cursed under his breath saying that I was making him sin early in the morning. But he managed to scrape the cold carcass out of the trap finally.

And I stood there shamed and sinned and feeling so damnably low…

My only consolation at the end of the day was that I had tried to save its life and tried hard though it had given up on its own…just out of fright….out of sheer paralysing, freaking fright…

PS: I have decided not to press the panic button if I see one of its clan again inside the house. And I have promised to myself not to let the trapped ones stay overnight inside the cage however hard pressed I may be for time.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shades And Shadows


Shades and shadows follow us in all seasons throughout  our lives. Its for us to distinguish between the comfort of a leafy shade and a baggage shadowing us.

 Two clicks in two different places and in two different seasons. The first one is at Zorba The Buddha, Gurgaon at high noon this month, i.e. February 2017, in the ephemeral season of Spring.

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This pic was taken from the balcony of the hotel in Shimla where me and my friend were putting up – a runaway trip again in the month of February 2016. But Shimla in February does not actually witness the onset of Spring. It was quite chilly but the afternoons saw a strong sun while the nights were quite cold.

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This post is for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge : Shadow

In Search Of That Perfect Destination


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Zorba The Buddha

For a very long time I was looking for a hideout where I could scoot off to hibernate. Now, as I write I realize that hibernate would be a wrong expression. The idea was to go unwind someplace else neither too near nor too far from home. It so happens that one never gets opportunity to explore one’s own city where he/she may have lived for donkey’s years. In my case, it is the National Capital Region (NCR) and how it has grown is a topic of a separate post!!

I had been surfing the net for a while in search of that perfect rejuvenating spot but as fate would have it all such runaways happened to be located outstation. Though ideally one should always take a break, at least half yearly, to travel out of one’s cocoon, but given my domestic constraint that option is not always exercisable.

Then one fine morning suddenly my eyes rested on an ad for registration for certain spiritual programs which were being held within NCR, not exactly at stone’s throw but definitely within reachable bounds. I quickly dialed their number to find out more about the place.

I think it was the unusual name of the venue that caught my attention – Zorba The Buddha – situated on 7 Tropical Drive, Gurgaon. Digital reviews said it was a place where you go to stay for a day and land up spending months. I was definitely intrigued.

Upon my telephonic enquiry, I was told that the concerned person, one Mr. Dhirendra, would call me back.  He did but I missed his call. When I called him back he smsed that he was busy and would return my call as soon as possible. In short, it did not seem to be the ripe time for finding out more about Zorba.

Then last week, I just fancied calling him up again. This time I was lucky to get his call back. He said Zorba was a hub of cultural and spiritual activity. Rooms were available for residential programs stretching for days, if required. Even otherwise, anybody could go stay at Zorba, without subscribing to any particular spiritual path or program. This was very encouraging as I preferred to do my own which was kind-of-free-lancing-in-meditation. I said I wished to check out the place before booking for a weekend night. They were game for that as well. However, one had to fix an appointment to have a look around which I did for this weekend, i.e., yesterday.

Zorba, by the Google map, is around 40 Km from my place which should make an hour’s journey. However, considering the on-road traffic (especially on MG Road), there is every possibility that the commuting may lengthen to incalculable hours. The easiest way, therefore, is to take the Metro straight to Ghitorni station where autos and e-rickshaws are aplenty and the drivers can almost read your mind before you tell them your destination.

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All the premises on Tropical Drive are heavily gated. Zorba is no exception! We had to pay an entry fee of Rs. 200/- per person (we were a twosome – me and my sister) before being allowed to meet the concerned at the Office. The one thing that was immediately noticeable was Zorba’s subscription to organic living. Every room, hall and the office had to be entered barefoot so the one thing which was common to all these were the wooden racks kept at the doorway for the visitors to take off their shoes before entering. Low-watt electric bulbs hung from branches of trees and bamboo shoots cleverly positioned.

Mr. Dhirendra, the reservation in-charge, was a pleasant personality who apprised us of a series of programs scheduled to be held in the coming months at Zorba which included drum circles, moonlight meditation, breath-works, dark meditation (week long shamanic group meditation conducted in darkened rooms) concerts, kirtans, therapies, yoga, mind and body healing, spiritual chanting, art classes, dance recitals and the works. No wonder the premise was choc-o-bloc for the season. There is no peak or off season for Zorba, we were told. It is teeming with activities throughout the year. In fact, programs were being conducted in all the halls at that very moment while we were exchanging notes with him.

Notwithstanding, Mr. Dhriendra graciously allowed us a tour of the premise. All the rooms, designed in the fashion of thatched-roofed mud huts with bamboo ceilings, are air-conditioned and provide basic amenities. The beds wrapped in mosquito nets almost touch the floor carpeted with bamboo mats. Each room has one entire wall of glass which serves as a large window opening out onto the greenery adequately lighting the rooms as well.  The attached bathrooms are spacious, well maintained and fitted with modern amenities.

S. Rooms Single Occupancy Double Occupancy

Dormitory

1 Non-Duplex Rs. 3900/- Rs. 5200/-
2 Duplex Rs. 4400/- Rs. 5400/- Rs. 2250/-

 

Foot Note: Room Charges are on per night basis and include all three meals.

Check in at 10.00 AM and check out at 12.00 PM

15% Tax extra on Bills

Charges for attending ongoing/pre-booked sessions is additional

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Though, we did not get a peek in, the halls, we were told, are also fully air-conditioned, varying in capacity and can accommodate from 35 to 65 people at a time. As we passed by we could hear soft music floating out which was a testimonial to the sessions going on inside.

Being in the same locale, a comparison with Anandgram, comes naturally. In so far as landscaping is concerned, Anandgram is vaster and easy to cover by foot. Zorba, spread in 3 acres of land, appears smaller in size as there are no-entry zones barricaded off for trespassers. Moreover, the landscape is undulating and therefore difficult to traverse on foot for elderly persons.

The lunch hall is again in the open and doubles up as an open-air amphitheater as well for the nightly festivities. The dais where the buffet tables are laid is a longish rectangular plateau of baked mud. Green mounds with seating arrangements atop abound.

Zorba claims to serve organic food which is light on stomach but overpriced (Rs. 500/- per head). Dinner is costlier (Rs. 700/- per head). As I did not stay for the night I will not be able to comment on the quality and spread of the nightly meal. Same goes for breakfast which costs as much as lunch. All meals are Buffet lays.

Lunch seemed to be an informal affair. White moulded chairs are arranged in groups. Concept of a dining table is deliberately absent. Idea is to let the inmates mingle and interact with each other over food. One can also have lunch seated on the grassy inclines. Interestingly, the lunch space is a mobile-free zone.

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Lunching at Zorba – Why am I always clicked eating?

Behind the lunch space a muddy path takes one to a patch of green well-shaded by leafy trees. An art class had just come to a close. Plastic tables and chairs lay asunder with remnants of a colourful session strewn here and there.

Beyond the patch is a pond which is the home for a cute flock of ducks swimming happily in the waters. Some rest on the grass island in the middle of the pond. Feeding the ducks is a strict no-no.

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You can take a U-turn by the side of the pond and following another mud path reach the front  where the office is or you can sit on one of the protruding rocks by the path and take stock of things. This side is unusually quiet and away from the sun. With the session’s end participants of the art class strolled back home this way.

It was during lunch that we could get the actual feel of the place with the crowd frequenting the place around. Again interestingly, they were mostly girls in their early twenties and thirties. If we had to plot the ratio between the two sexes it would definitely be to the tune of 80(female):20(male). A distinct class and age divide was also observable here – the older and the younger, the conservative and the adventurous, the ones who were set in their ways and the ones who were ready to experiment with life.

Zorba’s ambience is predominantly Osho.  There is an undercurrent of free-spiritedness in the air. Again in comparison with Anandgram, the seriousness of pursuit is sadly missing. Since, I did not stay overnight I cannot commentate on the atmosphere after sun down. My friend says the place is famous for its cultural fests. I am yet to experience one. However, staff here is again young and courteous.

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Zorba thrives on digital/oral marketing – word of mouth, FB postings, tweets and the likes. It is difficult to form an opinion whether the residents of Zorba are truly intense self-seekers or merely followers of a whimsical fad who wish to make a statement to the world by swimming against the tide. For me jelling with the environ is much more important than the degree of comfort and quality of amenities provided in a retreat. Zorba may be fun, one-time or more, but surely not for those who are seriously and deeply into spiritual quest. Lack of profundity is palpable and the genuineness of pursuit is alas missing. There is an air of poorly disguised artificiality which is bothersome. If you are on the lookout for an electrifying energy field throbbing like a livewire, Zorba is not the place for you.  It is definitely fashionable going by the gentry and the rows and rows of gleaming cars parked outside the premise. But it is neither the perfect mating ground for hobnobbing with souls attuned to the Divine to a higher and greater degree than yours nor the impeccable hermitage for a few days reclusive living.

At least not for me….

 Period.

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Bloggers Recognition Award Courtesy Shri J Mathur


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I owe this post to the graciousness of my esteemed co-blogger Shri J. Mathur who blogs at https://jmathur.wordpress.com and who found it worthwhile to nominate my name for the captioned Award. Though this is not the first time that I have been nominated for a Blog Award, however, this is the first time that I humbly accept this honour. Earlier, there have been occasions when awards and accolades have come my way but unfortunately I had to bow out of the ceremony mostly because the Rules of the Awards were, in my opinion, too stringent and the nominees whom I had to, in turn, select for bestowing the same recognition further always fell short of the stipulated number as I was not much of a blog reader/browser at that point of time.

But this time it is different. I have been knowing Shri Mathur, as a blogger and a reviewer par excellence, since many years. In fact, I have learnt to write film and book reviews by reading and re-reading his review posts on other sites long before he joined word press. My interest in Hindi Literature and Pulp Fiction has been stimulated courtesy Shri Mathur’s sincere evaluations and critiques. His comments on my posts, short stories and reviews have given me encouragement to write more and more. We have had lengthy telephonic discussions after watching a much-talked-about-movie or reading a book of common interest and appeal. In short, my association with Shri Mathur has been long and meaningful.  Therefore, there are more than one reason why this recognition coming from Shri Mathur holds great significance in my blogging career, if I may say so.

Rules of the Award:

As the Rules of the Award go one has to

  • Thank the Blogger who has nominated you and provide the link to his/her blog in your Thanksgiving Post;
  • Write a Post in favour of the Award bestowed on you;
  • Briefly outline your journey as a Blogger;
  • Give two advice to newbies in the world of Blogging;
  • Nominate 15 (fifteen) Bloggers whom you wish to bestow the same recognition/honour further;
  • Inform each Blogger whom you have further nominated for the award by way of comment wherein sharing the URL to the Post in which you have nominated them for the award.

My Journey As A Blogger:

Blogging happened to me all of a sudden when one of my colleagues suggested that it was a fun activity for leisure time which I would enjoy immensely. In fact, she herself created my first blog space on blogspot. At first, I was quite hesitant to write a post which I knew was open to public view and comment. However, gradually I opened up to the idea realising that it was a powerful medium to voice my opinion and communicate with like-minded people. Over a period of more than half a dozen years, blogging, for me, has evolved as I myself have, learning from various experiences of life. From reviews to short stories to social commentaries to poetry and many other experimental write-ups, my blog-space, I believe, has assumed a personality of its own – a personality which is an extension of me….a reflection of how my mind works…..a mirror which images my reactions to various internal and external stimuli.

I think blogging is not the appropriate expression of my space in this virtual world. It is an instrument by which I have influenced the thought processes of many a co-bloggers who read me and at the same time, I myself, have been, in turn, influenced by the creative vocalisations of those whose work (read blogs) I admire.

As Shri Mathur says blogging is a creative outlet which is a must in today’s stressful routine that we all succumb to for sustenance.

My Advice to New Bloggers:

I would not call this advice. It is more of an assertion that I wish to make for the benefit of all those who have just joined the community given to blogging.

Firstly, blogging should not be taken lightly. Bloggers should use their space responsibly, write sensibly and above all, be it any category (personal, poetry, hobby etc.) be ethically engaged in strengthening the community and creativity. Blogging is a special skill. Hone it with discipline and dedication. Those who say Bloggers are non-writers are guilty of serious oversight. The best part about blogging is that you have the freedom to opinionate and ideate without bothering about subscribing to any particular ism. However, in doing so, one should not forget that whatever freedom you enjoy should also be socially useful, important and impactful without infringing other’s space and liberty.

Secondly, one should not write with the sole purpose of gathering so many views, so many hits and so many comments. In short, one should not write to please others or what the others want or desire to read. Be different. Be your own voice. Be you. And readership will follow…automatically.

My nomination for this Award

I read and admire the following Bloggers whom I also nominate for this prestigious Award. The Rules do not say that reasons for nomination are also to be attached with the names of the nominees. But I, as usual, deviate from the league to tag each name with one-liners to justify why I nominate these Bloggers/Blogs:

  1. Amit Agarwal……………for the shared love for haikus.
  2. Dahlia Ghosal……………for the shared love for literature.
  3. Rajani Radhakrishnan………..for those exquisite strands in cadence.
  4. Shail Mohan………………for one and only Lucy and her fraternity.
  5. Miriam Hurdle…………..for the shared spiritual leaning.
  6. Dave Kingsbury…………for the shared love for poetry.
  7. Ankita…………….in envy of her creativity.
  8. Alok Singhal…….Aah! Those beautiful pics!!
  9. Devlina Talapatra/Archya Sengupta ….for the shared love for food.
  10. Varsh………………for the Thinker she is.
  11. Uma Shankar Pandey………….for his ornamental writings. Ooohs!!
  12. Bikram…………..for the genuine person that he is.
  13. Nila Bose……………..again poetry.
  14. Jaish Vats…………….for her random goodness.
  15. Saritha…………………for her cute creativity.

There are other excellent, erudite bloggers whom I regularly trail but I find Shri Mathur has already hijacked them and I do not know whether the Rules of the Award permit duplication in nomination. So, the loss is all mine!

Thanks once again Mathur Sahab for your kind gesture!!!

Grateful as always.

“Flaming” Pink


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Any format which tells a story is of keen interest to me. However, nowadays my attention diverts easily and I tend to get bored very fast. As a result, I feel hesitant to visit the PVR or the theatre lest I fall asleep or get distracted in between. To this plague, I have also found an alternative.

In so far as movies are concerned, I catch up the ones which I intend to watch at home on You Tube or online. No, I do not have the luxury of a home theatre. Nevertheless, I have my own satisfactory arrangement which may not be on par with that of the PVR yet adequate enough to quench the thirst of the intellect at the same time does also fulfil viewing pleasures. (Alas! For theatres I cannot say the same and am still on the lookout for an alternate).

Last week, I snatched a handful of me-time and watched “Pink” which was foremost on my “To-Watch” List for a very long time. After “Piku”, my expectations from Shoojit Sircar had leapt up to almost unscalable heights. Therefore, the drop down was, to put it mildly, painful when I realized that “Pink” merely had the benefit of Shoojit  Sircar’s name as one of its Producers. It is directed by one Mr. Aniruddha Roy Choudhury who has multiple Bengali hits to his credit.  A few years back I had seen “Änuranan”, one of his directorial works, and liked it.

 Watching “Pink” was like visiting the Taaj Mahal.  I had heard so much about the Seventh Wonder of the World that when I actually visited the heritage monument I could not but feel a little put down.  Problem lay in my escalated expectations and not with the world famous specimen of wondrous architecture. In similar lines, I won’t say “Pink” fell short of my expectations but somehow I had anticipated a little more out of it.  Again my fault…

It is already a much talked about film. So, no point in going over the story of the three independent working girls, staying together in a flat in a decent neighbourhood, for whom life takes a nasty turn one night mingling with a few guys, known through a common friend!! Minal, one of the mates, is found guilty of attempt to murder and prostitution while the other two, Falak and Andrea (Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang -the religious angle simply a coincidence?) run from pillar to post to in vain to exonerate her of all charges. Follows an intense Court room drama worth watching, especially, because of the power-packed performance of the one and only Big B who at the age of seventy plus proves beyond all doubt that the tag of “Super Hero” has nothing to do with youth and machismo. He rocks and rocks again….

With an unusual but contemporaneous story line, “Pink” makes a few very bold statements, hitherto unmade. First and foremost, it’s an assertion of sexual freedom of woman, per se, very hard for the Indian society, precariously holding on to feudal values on one hand and embarking on a global journey on the other, to digest.  Imbibing the global culture also implies a quantum leap in terms of mindset. Whether imitating the West really takes us ahead in the path of progress is a topic hugely debatable. For some it’s the need of the hour. For some it is an undesirable swerve which takes us away from the wealth of accumulated wisdom and values, a hallmark of our ancient and unique civilization.  Taking a breather from this controversial debate lets come down to the brass tacks.

Fact remains that we are a judgmental lot. We assess our fellow human beings from the way they conduct themselves in society and tag them accordingly.  Moreover, we have two different sets of codes of behaviour – one for the male and the other for the female members of the society.  It is, therefore, very difficult for us to understand and accept a girl staying out late night, wearing revealing clothes and drinking or smoking in male company as “not easily available”. They are the types who are to be lusted at is the general psychosis. The fact that even they have the right to say no to objectionable passes and crude advances is unthinkable. I have heard many (including young boys) comment that Nirbhaya transcended the lakshmanrekha by being out so late into the night with her boyfriend. Therefore, however beastly that be, what happened with her had had to happen anyway. Shocking?  So, Minal (Tapsee Pannu) could not be different.

The concept of consent is unheard of in our society, more so, for the fairer sex. However, here consent does not necessarily restrict itself to certain act. Interestingly, it extends to every aspect of life in general and surprisingly, for both the sexes, because of the very fact that in our society every child’s life, be it boy or girl, is decided by their parents. It is their birth right to make that decision and to abide by that decision is the utmost moral duty of their offspring. From career to life partner to continuation of the family name, all choices are pre-fixed, un-worded and unwritten, but definitely transmitted by such strong conventional ways and means that overlooking or setting them aside assumes the proportion of unpardonable crime.

Again, amazingly, this complete absence of the norm of respecting a no has been fanned by our dear own Hindi Cinema since past so many decades. We have swooned over classic romantic songs picturized on yester year heroines’, flaunting elaborate bouffant twice as big as the size of their heads, and running an eight around trees in picturesque parks while heroes in skin-tight pants and tighter shoes chased them relentlessly. It never occurred to the director or the screenplay writer that romance is not in any way related to such incongruous exercise of forcibly eliciting a yes from an unwilling lady by trying to catch her in a sudden embrace and lisping soulful songs however beautifully these might have been composed.

Against the backdrop of a society which is prone to condemning its members at the drop of a hat, how painstaking it must be to prove that one’s lifestyle is not aversed to norms unaligned with its social and moral diktats, is something which hits one forcefully while watching “Pink”. And it is herein perhaps that the movie punches the viewers hard.  I had always viewed Courts as platforms delivering verdicts, whether these are just or not, is another matter of discussion. It is the first time that while watching this film I realized that Courts are also the fora where one has to explain oneself at great length, from mundane nitty-gritty of daily living to matters of larger import which may or may not have any bearing to the case in question, to prove a point or one’s own self or innocence or whatever,  so much so that somewhere this very act of explaining and proving appears to trespass the boundaries of fundamental freedom inherently available to  an individual.

After such brave attacks on society – its systems and mindset – a few inconsistencies that rankle. Retired Advocate, Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachhan), who takes up the case of the three helpless girls, is on medication (perhaps for bipolar disorder), yet in that state when he suffers from pronounced mood swings how he manages to collect documentary evidences to lead the case is unclear and unconvincing, more so, because he works unaided.  Again, owner of the flat occupied by these three girls is an octogenarian.  Cronies of the “victim” employ goonda tactics to pressurise him to throw the girls out of the flat. Yet, Uncleji takes a stand in favour of the girls – unusual! He is concerned and supportive but is never called to the trial, either by the prosecution or by the defence, when the girls’ living style comes under the spanner. Strange!!

While everyone puts in the best of performance, the one whose reticence is more voluble than the the most impactful punch line  is that of  Dhritiman Chatterjee’s as the Judge who quietly weighs all allegations against the facts of the case from his towering pedestal.  However, there is no inkling of doubt where his sympathies lie.  Though Director Aniruddha Roy Choudhury does not, even for once, takes recourse to cheap sentimental slapdash but one is wont to believe that the unflinching equanimity and balanced rationale of the Judge belie a human heart who, besides his long tenure of legal experience, must also have fathered a daughter.

“Pink” commentates on society as it is today. It brings to the fore a crop of new generation of youngsters, girls to be precise, who are supposedly more empowered than their predecessors may have ever been. They are educated, earn well, live independently away from their parent’s umbrella of care and protection, are free thinking and believe in individual liberty. Yet do these factors really insulate them from an exploitative, biased, closed and victimizing society?

Point to Ponder…..

Down Those Dusty Lanes….


(This Post is written for Dahlia’s Story Club)

datarfcsdfnz0lfprhsm0ublxdzhdrdfhtmhhn1u-gmvvuquyxcisfp2-rkq4yfb2xjtgiiak8vcdpjyy3vhd9qm-13tzyinp2es8c-j-2rrdw_a9gxewwaygaqjiyliltr7m8jitr6tctct26howq7klzuhsev6-2jarfgdyvf8f4swsgmc5qbjefyb0fxk3it2ovHave you ever been to Deoli? Made a stop at that ‘lonely little’ platform on the way to Dehra where the train waits for a whole ten minutes although nobody gets in or gets off ? datarfcsdfnz0lfprhsm0ublxdzhdrdfhtmhhn1u-gmty19covzfsrqxl1n2huebvdwxharocuvxtshibhfj1roko8s8cd-9rftxiottv-8vhpdckqj3r7jiwd_h2is6l7grb2wm3dtewpl_ypw8jjxpdlpl-g3yy-mklzgshpuwfi6orf9be6k1or9jfxajyndbsNo, is it? Even I have never been  there and when I tried to locate the spot on Google Map this is what I got. Just imagine! And then I almost pierced a hole through Dehra’s  and lo! Not a single dot  I discerned which would help me find the place. Now, you may ask why are you all of a sudden so keen on Deoli? Well, I am keen on all those lesser known, desolate stations where the train stops or passes by rapidly without bothering to ask the far and few  gazers whether they were interested to cross over the threshold of their insignificant lives and jump into the speeding carriage to some place else teeming with excitement and fun hitherto untasted by them. But the train does or does not stop and no one hops in or out and I keep on resisting the insane urge to pull the chain to de-board and jump over the station wall to find out what lies beyond.

img_20160204_134004-1Once I did pass a few such stations on my runaway trip to Shimla. Picturesque corners with one or two passengers here and there, a tea-stall selling hot tea in plastic cups and stale snacks and a few stray, lazy mongrels sleeping dangerously close to the tracks. The attractively painted cabins of the stationmaster however looked uninhabited. But wild flowers grew randomly on the window sills and butterflies flipped about – a reminder that God’s grace abounds even in the remotest of remote nooks of this planet Earth where perhaps even humans have not placed their ungainly feet. The picture on the left is just an impulsive click of one such station where the toy train halted during its laboured glide up to Shimla  and not to be confused with that deserted station called Deoli on the way to Dehra where the girl with the soulful eyes sold baskets and stole hearts and made promises of being there always but never kept the same. And the robust boy of ten and eight, who fell for her frivolous words, would scan the platform eagerly always whenever he passed by Deoli by the night train puffing and panting its way to and fro his grandmother’s place at Dehra.

ruskin_bond_7758-1Now that you know what is Deoli all about or why I am harping on Deoli for so long, ye must have gathared that its just one of those short stories by none other than the master-wordsmith, Mr Bond – Ruskin Bond (as Dahlia so endearingly puts it) – The Night Train At imagesDeoli. But please do not go by the length of the tale as in its minimal format it encapsulates a timelessness which perhaps transcends human existence. How can one obviate that perennial and primordial pang of waiting from one’s existence? Hasn’t the entire cosmos been holding breath from inception in waiting of that ultimate intervention which will put an end to everything that has remained undone? Is there any other way to explain that thin thread of wistfulness that weaves through this ever-expanding Universe – that wordless yearning from time immemorial for something that is beyond accomplishing?

Remember this all-time classic from that beautiful movie Uphaar, a remake of  one of the stories of  Satyajit Ray’s film Teen Kanya adapted from Tagore’s short story “Samaapti” (The End).  Those beautiful lines from the boatman’s song echoes that eternal truth: “Aisi koi mauj nahin, jisko koi khoj nahin…..” Not a single wave in sea, Is free of  quest for Thee..

Its difficult to talk about RB’s writings let alone a review. Why I wonder! Probably the reason lies in his simplicity and matter of fact style of telling a story. Had he cloaked a cauldron of sizzling emotions in verbiage it would have been easier to deep-dive in and unearth what lay beneath and in-between. But he being an ace storyteller leaves no scope for unnecessary dissection. I have always quoted him generously whenever I have dared to speak of my feelings about his creations because it is far easier to explain him in his own words than vainly try a hand out to do so in my limited capacity.

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I decided that one day I would get off the train at Deoli, and spend the day there, just to please the town.” What an innocent wish! But while reading this line how I recalled that one statement by Imtiaz Ali, the Director of Jab We Met, his maiden venture which broke all records, which went something like this “A story begins when you get off the train and follow the tracks…” Had that firebrand Sikhni from Bhatinda not got off the train at an unknown station in the dead of the night to extend unsolicited help to that poor rich guy who was off his mind with anguish and despair there would not have been any beginning to a stormy search for the right path!

But here RB’s tale veers to a different alley. “Somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to break journey at Deoli and spend a day there. I think I was afraid to do so. ” And it is herein that reality takes over and the boy who has been besotted with a forlorn lass with eloquent eyes, selling baskets on the platform of Deoli station, cannot bypass the set norms of society and go in search of his muse jumping over the station wall. Come to think of it how often have we got off life’s well trodden tracks and taken a course less travelled?

And he is afraid to do so….why? Don’t we all dread to venture into the unknown? Aren’t we all fearful that our quest may land ourselves up into something less adventurous, less gainful, more disastrous and more ordinary and foolish? A stupid extravaganza that we could have best not invested in?

Yet, we have all along repented that one single step that we never took throughout our lives. “Had we not followed what came our way things would have been different” is an easy and oft-repeated lament. But do we have the strength and the courage to follow our dreams?  And it is this not-doing that has more than often made us wistful and sad on lonely evenings when the sun has set forth westward.  It is this undefined longing for every those bits and pieces of life not experienced and earned that has been so well brought forth in Tagore’s inimitable style:

And therefore, ” In the last few years, I have passed through Deoli many times, and I always look out of the carriage window, half expecting to see the same unchanged face smiling at me, I wonder what happens in Deoli, behind the station walls. But I will never break journey there. I prefer to keep hoping and dreaming, and looking out of the window up and down that lonely platform, waiting for the girl with the baskets….I never break my journey at Deoli, but I pass through as often as I can.”  

At times, I feel, we humans have this incorrigible tendency to play games with our own selves. We aspire but do not go that extra length to possess what we aspire for and then we keep on hoping, dreaming and pining for what we never achieved but aspired for throughout. And at others, I also have this secret thought that perhaps this not getting what one wants has given that extra bit of mournfulness to life which is so essential to creativity. Similar to this thought comes this odd appreciation of the author’s sadness for this strange estrangement from the object of his teenage fascination (?) , whom had he united with, such a romantic story would not have ever been born! And this deliberate clinging to its memory …..adds exponentially to the poignancy of this love affair with a wistful ending.

……Its this one element of nostalgia that threads through most, if not all, Bond stories. You end up with a lump in your throat and a heaviness in your chest which trickling tears would somehow not dissipate but rather deprecate in worth and extent. So, all Bond fans learn to live with and love that feeling of deprivation which cynics may ridicule as masochism.

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Yet, one day I would love to locate unbeknown that obscure station at Deoli and reach there by taking that night train which stops at the platform ten whole minutes in the stealthy light of dawn when I shall longingly look out of the window through wisps of thinning fog for that one glimpse of a dark beautiful young girl with doleful eyes selling baskets of the finest cane and who by her own confession does not have to go anywhere but is still never found there…..

And the memory of everything that is heartfelt and beautiful but ephemeral shall live on…..

The Tranquil Tavern


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The Stately Guard of Anandgram

As you reach Ghitorni Metro Station on Mehrauli-Gurgaon road, start counting the Metro Pillar nos.  After the 165th -166th Pillar take a U-turn. The Highway forks into a narrower road to the left. The signage on your right modestly announces the way towards Anandgram. The Security Guard directs us to Farm House No. 7 – the Caretaker’s Office. The road rushes in through a motley of green foliage on either side. Gated farm houses, line the boulevard, numbered for convenience. At the far end the road merges into the boundary walls of our destination, which upon literal translation means, the Village of Joy. One wonders how such an oasis of serenity and solitude is tucked right in the midst of a bustling cyber-city.

As we enter the premises, a stately, ancient tree welcomes us with solemn dignity to the Village which is the temporary residence of many artists and artisans from all over the world. We reach the Office of the Caretaker which overlooks the open-air amphitheater spread out on the lush lawns. A bamboo wind chime hangs on the window. Sparsely furnished with cane and wooden furniture, the office is a contrast of modern amenities (PC on both desks) and ethnic comfort. Right outside the Office, a pair of Indian terracotta horses look down on us regally from imposing height.

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Clusters of Indian Terracotta Figures

The ambience is one of relaxed creative solitude. Spread over three acres of verdant well-manicured land   dotted by leafy trees, fashionably pruned bushes, flowering hedges and blossoming beds, Anandgram capsules with deliberate care the ethnicity of our rich cultural heritage. Strewn all over the pastoral landscape are priceless artifacts of indigenous origin – cluster of terracotta figurines here and rolling brass wares there and earthen pots artistically placed by the shallow steps of the garden.  Hut-shaped pavilions with attractively decorated exteriors, framed pieces of hand woven embroidered textiles, colorful artworks, abstract paintings and intricately crafted hangings adorning the interiors, random architecture showcasing the Moghul influence, glass-painted windows swerving back to the present – at every turn and bend one stumbles over the diverse facets of Indian art and architecture sprawled with studied carelessness all around.

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The Decorated Walls of the Museum

While talking of heritage, how can one overlook our deeply revered spiritual inheritance? So there is Mind Space an all sides open shaded nook for body-mind-soul confluence.

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Mind Space

Anandgram is open to residential and non-residential workshops, training programs, seminars and conferences. Of course, noisy gatherings are absolute no-no in the Village – an unwritten rule to be adhered to scrupulously.

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The Dormitory – Inside

A conducted tour of the make believe village reveals much more. There are dormitories, twin sharing as well as single occupancy rooms. All the rooms are air-conditioned with attached bathrooms. However, the best are the studios which are allotted to the artists who come to stay and work on their chosen projects. It is a duplex arrangement where the ground floor is designed to be the work station for the artist. The stairs to the bedroom above rises straight up to a kind of loft supported by a very interesting banister of polished wood – a sturdy angular structure bordering the high cemented steps. The studio is minimalistic in its furnishing. A mosquito-net hangs from a makeshift four poster single bed.  The slender balcony outside the bedroom is a Naturist’s delight – as the trees branch out towards it – a perfect spot to enjoy the umbrella of green outside.

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The Dormitory – Outside

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The Residences – The Studios Far Behind

Anandgram was completed in 1993 and is still growing under the aegis of the Sanskriti Foundation which was established in 1979.  Those wishing to stay and work in Anandgram have to get their projects approved by the Foundation. September to March is the busiest season when the international artists prefer to put up in Anandgram.  Notwithstanding, the Village is teeming with activities throughout the year. As summer sets in Anandgram vibrates with fresh energy as then the domestic entities (NGOs, Schools, Institutions etc.) take over the premise. The Village is also a bird watcher’s paradise.

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The Old conference Room

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The Seminar Hall

The place is not available for holidaying. The stay and conference charges are very reasonable and inclusive of all meals (strictly vegetarian). The best part is, you are free to invite the visiting artists to your workshop for knowledge and craft sharing. Participation of the invitee is, however, on voluntary basis. While conventional seating arrangements (class room, round table etc.)  are available in the halls, one can also opt for the traditional Indian seating style (i.e. squatting on durries with cushions for support). The other conference accessories like Project, Screen, White Board etc. are available on actual basis.

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Way To The Museum

The tour ends with visit to the Museums – (1) Indian Terracotta, (2) Everyday Art and (3) Textile which house the workmanship of the artists and artisans of this ethnically diverse country.

The Village is taken care of by an army of around twenty five workmen. Except the Kitchen and Pantry staff, all are day workers. As evening sets in, silence solidifies. Excommunicated from the rest of the world, the inmates, absorbed in their solitary pursuits, get their meditative moments. As a core-urbanite it is hard for me to image a life without the routine   noises of hectic living. But Munnilalji’s (the Caretaker) smiling reply, “Madam! They come here because they get what they want…” is I think an apt summation of what Anandgram holds for its ‘seasoned’ dwellers.

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An Ongoing Pottery Class

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The Decorated Hut Wall

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The Intricately Patchworked Windows of the Pavillion Behing

My Two Bit ”Gyan” On ”Gaan” Part I


Bengalis have this genetic hook-up with ”Gaan”…..sorry ”Gaan” is actually Bangla for Song. A person who cannot hum a tune properly and  speak two words on the same is not human enough is what Bongs believe wholeheartedly. So being a quintessential specimen of the race I had to know and learn what ”Gaan” was all about from my infancy. It was a compulsion. There was no alternate choice for me, more so, being born in a family of self-proclaimed musicians, it would have been akin to sending my parents to the guillotine had I not been able to  figure out , during my very  formative years, what micro-tone, tune, pitch, scale, harmony, melody, rhythm, voice throw and all such other subtle nuances of the Discipline meant. So, whether I had a knack for singing or not, I had not only to sing but also look knowledgeable about a subject, oceanic and layered. Needless to say, the training had to be rigorous in order to make a peacock coo like a cuckoo. Having underwent that what best could have happened was not the modulation of a mellifluous voice but development of an ear for melody, which can be as technical as Rocket Science. Believe me!!

Having said all that, I implore you all not to nurture any misconception even for a nano second that whatever little have I come to pick-up with diligence in due course is by any measure encyclopaedic in dimension. It is certainly NOT. Why? Because I very firmly hold that music is Nature’s Gift and therefore comes naturally to those who are endowed with this blessing. One who has to sweat over it is not actually meant for it. I had to so let’s not waste time on that….

However,  DNAs being DNAs, music has always been an integral part of my life and played varied roles ranging from being enjoyable to motivational to exalting to cathartic to therapeutic…..in short catalytic. Now, as the prompt requires, it is very difficult to put a finger, metaphorically speaking, on one particular song  which has moved, inspired, uplifted or influenced me to no end. In fact, there have been and are many which at different points of time in life have been instrumental in maintaining sanity and keeping me afloat. I guess that is what maturing is all about.

But today I think the one song which I must speak about is this one that has kept me going in the most turbulent and trying times of my growing up and to be very honest I am still growing…………….up……………..

For those who are alien to the language, let me try and translate the lyrics, though not in absolute exact way, but in a manner that retains and conveys the essence:

How long shall darkness bewitch the heart

These wistful days shall someday be past

Life is a matrix of sorrow and joy

This barren season is a moment’s ploy

Fresh blooms shall blossom again in the path

These wistful days shall someday be past

Howsoever strong the wind be that blows

Let the flame of faith in the heart burns so

Together be joined those who  journeyed apart

These wistful days shall someday be past

Truth is that may what anyone say

The tides of love  that swirl and sway

Shall touch the shore someday sure and fast

These wistful days shall someday be past

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Lyricist Yogesh

Though quite close to literal translation yet I have taken a few liberties here and there, albeit minimal, to preserve poetic cadence and beauty of the lore. However, it is quite evident that the song exudes undying hope and incurable optimism which are so very necessary at times when everything seems dismal around and no flicker of light shines, ,even in the distance, to illumine vision and mind.  At many a times like this, I have found strength and the will to move forward listening  to or remembering this song.

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Singer Kishore kumar

Penned by my all time favourite lyricist Yogeshji and composed by one and only Rajesh Roshan Sahab (known for his offbeat scores), this song sans percussion instrument(s), glaciates seamlessly in the sonorous voice of the inimitable Kishore Kumar who has sung a scale lower than his usual  to underscore the sombreness of the notations. Nonetheless, the flow of the song glides the same way as life does through the peaks and troughs of time. Here, Kishoreda’s voice takes on a rich-in-conviction yet soothing tone. Even the high notes have been wilfully pitched a tad softly such as not to jar nerves distraught with frustration and failure. Almost like croons of a lullaby falling on the ears of a distressed child, the notes fall and rise in waves, drizzling the soul with solace and tranquillity. My restive battles within have often been put to a truce of peace and harmony, however short-lived that be, humming this song. And God knows there have been a number of occasions  when I have had reasons to sing this song to myself.

Interestingly, like all other, this number from the film ‘Baaton Baaton Mein’, has an unmistakable Western flavour  in consideration of the script’s social milieu. The film pivots around the unambitious love story of a boy and a girl belonging to the  Anglo-Indian community of  thriving middle-class Mumbai.

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Composer Rajesh Roshan

I dedicate this song along with this post to all those who must have also been through what I have been. Fact remains that this matrix of angst and elation, hope and desperation, success and loss, achievement and failure are intrinsic parts of existence. My late father  had often advised us to be stoic in the face of adversities. “Life”, he would say, “Is 3/4th sorrow and merely 1/4th joy just as our planet Earth whose 3/4th part is  covered by water bodies, thereby rendered inhabitable and only 1/4th is covered by land which is habitable.” Odd analogy yet strangely comprehensible as to how little we have with which to create, hold on to and be contented with.

So, sing along………….

All images from Google

This post is in response to Word Press Daily Prompt : Song

From Wish To Will


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Corruption is a malady which eats into the very foundation of an Organization rendering it weak, inadequate and ineffectual. Its corrosive impact is all pervasive which in the long run debilitates the very fabric of society. The demon of corruption can only be defeated by putting fair and equitable systems and procedures in place and garnering public support and participation.

An efficient and effective Organization fruitfully integrates personal growth of its workforce with the organizational goals. A corruption-free environment enhances this integration, which in turn, facilitates the Organization to reach out to a wider customer base and sustain growth amidst stiff competition. Therefore, a well-meditated campaign against corruption can never be exclusive of the people manning the organizational machinery.

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Corruption is covert operation which can only be debunked by drawing the areas most prone to it within the purview of public disclosure. Dissemination of information increases awareness and empowers people. Whereas an Organization committed to transparency strives to make as much information as possible accessible to the public, conscious effort on the part of the recipients is required to make use of the same responsibly and constructively.

In this age of digitization, there is no dearth of user-friendly systems and procedures devised by Organizations to minimize delay and maximize result. However, continued      effectiveness of these systems depends   on how diligently the operators within the Organization ensure adherence to the same and how committed the end-users are to not to give in to the urge to secure selfish benefits bypassing procedural requirements.

The combat against corruption is a two-way process combining action with introspection. Corruption is a state of mind. Corrupt thoughts instigate corrupt actions. Thus, to counter corrupt thoughts it is essential to condition the mind to think transparently, to ask one’s own self whether and how more transparency can be infused to better a job and scale higher and higher levels of fairness and equitability. It is with this self-motivated mechanism of checks and counter checks being constantly operative within can we function transparently, vigilantly and with integrity.

A vigilant mind is the one which is alert, aware and ever ready to take initiative to thwart all such evil strikes which are detrimental to the growth of a corruption free environment. Integrity is a reflex to undividedly converge personal values, moral strength and honesty on the task in hand to produce the desired output. While corrupt thoughts weaken our moral fiber, it is personal integrity, vigilance of mind and an instinctive desire to perform selflessly that subvert actions spurred by selfish motives.

In the final analysis, battling against corruption is much more an internal warfare than an externalized endeavour. It is a constant effort which requires strengthening of the inner core and values that prompt us to rise above the narrow confines of petty gains driven by vested interests. When such individualized efforts graduate into collective will to foster a global community cleansed of all the pernicious designs spun by manipulative minds that public participation to eradicate the ills of corruption elevate  to a truly meaningful and sustainable movement.

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All images from Google

Temple Of Silence


The Lotus Temple From Afar

The Roots :

It was Shashti – the first day of Durga Pujo. There is something about autumn (Sharad or Sharat Ritu in Hindi/Bangla) in which season we Bengalis have our Durga Puja for four days at a stretch starting with Shashti (the Sixth Day), Saptami ( the Seventh Day), Ashtami (the Eighth Day), Navami (the Ninth Day) and of course the fifth day i.e. Dashami (the tenth Day) when the majestic idol of Maa Durga with all of her four children (two daughters,  Lakshmi and Saraswati and two sons, Kartik and Ganesh) are immersed in the waters. The Bengalis worship Devi Durga as the Eternal Mother, the Eternal Bahu or daughter-in-law and the Eternal Consort or Wife (of Lord Shiva). However, amongst these three Roops or versions of Durga, it is the Matri Roop , i.e. the Eternal Mother, the most revered. In quintessence, Durga is the Mother of countless mortal children who are constantly looking up to her for her divine love and guidance – Devi Praseeda (O Divine Lady! Be pleased with us, the incorrigible sinners that we are!) is a plea that is intrinsically woven into the prayers that the Bengalis chant on these four to five days. Of course, the Aabaahan or the Welcome during the Mahalaya, preceeding the main Puja, wherein her devotees plead with her to come down on planet Earth from her celestial abode, amidst her mortal children in all her splendour and glory, depicts her as Shakti, the Eternal Warrior or Mahishasuramardini, the valiant destroyer of all Evil and the harbinger of the Ultimate Good, has a different Mythological lore to boot.

The Architecture Of The Temple Is That Of A Lotus Opening UP

The Visit:

However, this time there was no pandal hopping, as is customary, for the true Bongs to do these four/five days of Poojo, offer Pushpanjanli (pay obeisance with flowers) and feast around in general. As I said, in this season, due to the Pooja or not, a kind of detachment creeps into the system. You feel wistful and not exactly lethargic but definitely apathetic to work. So, pandal hopping or no hopping, sitting and working in office was not at all on my daily planner. On the 7th  of last month (i.e. September 2016), I decided to spend the day differently and left early to reach a place quite near to my office which I had been planning to visit for a long, long time. In fact, I had seen photographs of this place in the evenings when it is all lit up and heard so much about it that my curiosity was piqued to no end. But as they say those who stay in the nearhood never get an opportunity or make it to visit the places of historic/religious significance there. It is only when you take on the role of a tourist that you really cross over the thresholds of your homestead and venture out to far-off places to whet the appetite of the traveller in you. Such is human nature!

So, coming back to site visiting. It took around thirty five minutes to reach there. It has extensive grounds including a paid parking lot on the opposite side but on that day no one actually charged us for the same. As I crossed the road to enter the premise I was instantly disappointed. It was not what I had expected. Not at all! Here was I standing in front of the Bahai Temple at Nehru Place near Kalkaji Metro Station (exact landmark!!) which is famous for its lotus-shaped architecture, being the only place of worship for the Bahais in Delhi, also well-known for its prayer hall where complete silence is supposed to reside but the throng of crowd that was moving in and out of the entrance gate made it quite clear that solitude was not what I would find here.

One has to walk for almost fifteen to twenty minutes before  reaching  the main prayer hall. The grounds have been maintained meticulously and the greenery that abounds is soothing to the eyes. Commonly known as the Lotus Temple, it is surrounded by nine artificial lakes, which keeps the place cool and hydrated. However, the lakes require a little more maintenance and cleaning. At one point, much before entering the hall,  the visitors have to take off their shoes and put them in a plastic bag handed over by the Temple administrators and carry along inside the hall which idea did not appeal to my Hindu Sanskaar at all. Why carry the shoes inside a place of worship?

Inside The Temple – The Artificial Lakes

Visitors are not allowed to take shots inside the prayer hall. Therefore, no pics. But let me describe the interiors for you. Rows and rows of stone benches positioned around a podium kind of structure wherefrom  perhaps the priest recites the sermons when it is prayer time. Though mikes are installed on the podium, the accoustics of the hall is such that even whispers can make the place noisy. As such, mike seems unnecessary. The hall has a dome-like structure rising from the grounds in the shape of the petals of a lotus which is just about to open or opening up. The ceiling of the hall therefore tapers upwards and the workmanship has more geometrical precision than aesthetic beauty. Austerity abounds in every nook and cranny of the temple which gives a glimpse of what Bahai Faith must be all about. There is a kind of scientific temper about the place and it is quite obvious that with a lot of systematic and rational  thinking  the Faith  has evolved. I suppose this aura of austerity must be taking on pulsating vibes when multitude join in prayer inside the hall.

Right Outside the Prayer Hall

It was late noon when I reached there and the sun shone brightly inside (the surrounding wall of the Prayer Hall is of glass and wood). Though the crowd was generally obedient and followed instructions of the boys who doubled as guide-cum-security-personnel, yet given the reverberating accoustics of the place even shuffling feet had disturbing effect. After coming out of the hall, one is allowed to wear one’s footwear and deposit the empty plastic bags to one of the caretakers stationed outside. (The administrators appeared to be quite possessive about the plastic bags and a few of the junta quite absent-minded about the same which resulted in loud reminders/hollering to the tourists to return the bags before leaving :)) . Even with the kind of crowd around, the tour was orderly. I saw that no one was allowed to loiter in the sprawling lawns around the temple which actually helps in keeping the gardens  spic and span.

The Well-Manicured Gardens Were A Delight!

A Little of History :

A little about the Bahai Order.

The word Bahai is derived from the Arabic word Baha which means splendour or glory. The Bahais believe in Unity of God, Unity of  Humanity and Unity of Religion. They believe that there is One God who is the source of all Creation. Thus, according to them, all major Religions have the same spritual source. All humans, though diverse in several ways,  are born equal. The crux of Bahai Faith is to learn to know and love God through prayer, reflection and service to humanity. They do not believe in idol worship.

The Bahai Faith was founded by Baha u ullah in 19th-century Persia. He was exiled for his teachings from Persia to the Ottoman Empire and died still a prisoner. After his death, his son, Abdul Baha, spread the religion  to Europe and America. The Faith supposed to have consolidated in Iran under acute persecution. The Bahai community is spread out all over the world – more than 5 million in more  than 200 countries. The Bahai Faith said to have its origin in Indian Religions as well as Christian beliefs. According to them, the evolution of humanity is founded on global peace, justice and unity which is the need of the hour too.

The Bahai Faith in India can be traced back to the Babis in 1844. Professor Pritam Singh is believed to have been the first member of the Sikh Community in India to accept the Bahai Faith, According to Mahatma Gandhi, “Bahai Faith is a solace to humankind.”

The Lotus Temple was compelted in 1986 and is the Mother Temple of Bahai House of Worship in the Indian Subcontinent. It has won numerous awards for its architectural precision and grandeur and is the most visited site in India surpassing even the Taj Mahal.

My Feelings :

Given the genesis and evolution briefed above, it is not surprising, therefore, that the rational thinkers around the world, irrespective of creed, caste, community and religion, have found the core tenets of the Bahai Faith appealing to reason and intellect. It is the very idea of praying in silence that had attracted me to this grand site in the first place. However, it is my personal opinion that a centre of worship should be maintained as one, i.e., as a place of solitude and introspection and not for sightseeing. I was quite taken aback to see the congregation amassed there which, no doubt, speaks of the popularity of the place. However, the same crowd had a ruinous effect on the atmosphere of the Temple where many solitude-seekers like me might have visited to reflect in quietude and feel the Divine presence in absolute silence.

Lotus Temple——-

I walk with the crowd

in search of silence

The Distracting Crowd At The Temple