The Ganges

The Ganges

The part of me that understands myth did not take much time to accept that Ganga could indeed be the greatest river in the world.
There’s another, the rational, the part that feeds on logic. It asked if the Nile, Mississippi, the Yangtze be disregarded?
Do you know why the Ganga is called the greatest river on this planet? The eternal life giver?

In a cartograhic lab in JNU, I discovered a map of the sea floor. I had read about this before but I had little recollection. I saw how the Ganga flows and rises. The Ganges dies in the Bay of Bengal, I had thought. The map told me it joins the Brahmaputra (her mythical brother) in a scouring, long channel along the floor of the bay.
What is underwater of the Ganges far exceeds its overland channel.

To understand myth, I believe one must neccesarily contemplate a scenario where it could hold no ground. You should accept arguments that myths are inclusive of aspects you cannot see and perceive.

If I were to revel in the fact that Mahabali was the greatest king of all time, I’d have to understand that the story of Mahabali might not exist at all. If it did, then there must be something I cannot perceive that must make Mahabali the greatest king. I simply cannot prove it though others can disprove it.

Geology has atleast this in parallel to mythology, I think. That as in a myth, what’s hidden and what’s visible, when put together is by far the greatest things our minds can imagine.

The Ganges

The Ganges

The part of me that understands myth did not take much time to accept that Ganga could indeed be the greatest river in the world.
There’s another, the rational, the part that feeds on logic. It asked if the Nile, Mississippi, the Yangtze be disregarded?
Do you know why the Ganga is called the greatest river on this planet? The eternal life giver?

In a cartograhic lab in JNU, I discovered a map of the sea floor. I had read about this before but I had little recollection. I saw how the Ganga flows and rises. The Ganges dies in the Bay of Bengal, I had thought. The map told me it joins the Brahmaputra (her mythical brother) in a scouring, long channel along the floor of the bay.
What is underwater of the Ganges far exceeds its overland channel.

To understand myth, I believe one must neccesarily contemplate a scenario where it could hold no ground. You should accept arguments that myths are inclusive of aspects you cannot see and perceive.

If I were to revel in the fact that Mahabali was the greatest king of all time, I’d have to understand that the story of Mahabali might not exist at all. If it did, then there must be something I cannot perceive that must make Mahabali the greatest king. I simply cannot prove it though others can disprove it.

Geology has atleast this in parallel to mythology, I think. That as in a myth, what’s hidden and what’s visible, when put together is by far the greatest things our minds can imagine.

Home is where?

I dislike how homecoming is always associated with a happy word. Coming home after months or years is difficult because the people you come home to- only know the ‘you’ that left a few months/years ago and perhaps expect you to be the same.

This is true for the aunt who still teases me for the sloppiness I couldn’t hide when I was sixteen and stayed with her for a few months. She vividly recalls my fast food only diet, couldn’t-care-less-about-school attitude despite the fact that I worked fairly hard to get my act together while living on my own.

This is true of the brother who thinks I always had it easy, thanks to my parents, despite the fact that I spent the last 3 months living from a small suitcase in an alien city with pocket money less than the government’s minimum wages in India.

This is true of the best friend who cannot begin to understand why my future plans would include studying Theology in Dublin or learning Arabic in Ankara when at eighteen; my plans did not fly far from planning Sunday brunches and shopping sessions with her.

This is true of anyone who no longer see you as you see yourself when you come back home. There is no one to blame but the eternal game changers that are- time and expectation. You give them time and you expect them to change along with you.

It is not your fault that you changed. It isn’t their fault either that they preserved an image of yours as you left. Your return was uncertain and that memory will now be summoned whenever you do return, albeit temporarily. As we said goodbye, a picture of our insecure hunch backed gait, carefree attitude and our constant refusal to wake up before ten’ o clock, is what they replaced us with.

Home coming is not easy because it is not easy to realize that the ones you love do not necessarily think the way you do, believe in the things you do, act the way you would and have the same experiences as you did.

Home coming is difficult because in an inexplicable way you knew that going away was is for good. That’s why you appreciate the change better than them. Otherwise, what was the point of volunteering for a social cause in a desert, studying in a new city or looking for a new job in another?

Home coming is difficult because you knew this would happen all along. You knew you would change. You knew that the world you left behind would change too. But what you didn’t know was that you would change at a pace that would be different from theirs.

Home coming is difficult in more ways than one, because some people you have left behind will want to understand the change. They will beg for stories and listen intently as you go back and forth recreating that moment and trying to desperately include them in your world. ‘I’ll tell you everything,’ will always be a lie and you know that. How do you explain the scar on your forehead to them, the scar that will always tell you how much alcohol is too much alcohol for you? They weren’t the ones who showed you your favorite place in the city now- an ancient, abandoned step well in the middle the business district. They weren’t the ones who lent you the few thousands you were short on to pay for the best holiday of your life.

They weren’t there when you lost a friend to alcohol addiction, or when you tiptoed back into your room in the early hours of Monday; they weren’t by your side when you realized one fine evening that you were actually on the right path.

Yet, you have shared all of this with them through the innumerable skype sessions, emails that can match the length of War and Peace and on WhatsApp conversations that have sometimes spanned days. Whether words can convey to them how these experiences have actually changed you, you aren’t very sure.

Coming home to someone who has disappeared from the ever widening horizons of your new life is even more difficult. It is neither their fault nor yours. Time and distance sometimes create a sense of romanticism around nonexistent relationships. When you come back, you have to break the news to them that they no longer matter, at least not as much as they once did.

This is not to say that time and distance fail relationships. My best friendships have withstood the test. But those built on nothing but common experiences will wither away. The converse is true for those who stay. You’ll catch up with them like you left just yesterday irrespective of all the things you don’t have in common anymore (like classes, workplace, people to talk about, even cities you live in). This is your team, your gang and will always remain so. These are the people that will toast on my wedding day, get drunk with me on my fiftieth birthday and mourn any of my losses like their own.

Home coming is hard because your family isn’t perfect. Coming back also means dealing with all the mess that you left behind years ago, the things that have somehow remained unchanged. It is difficult because it means hundreds of hours of planning, packing and panicking. It is not easy because you’ll prepare to explain the things that changed you in a few hours. It is hard because you might not fit into your old bed anymore and all the scribbling on your walls might have been whitewashed and your home town might have changed beyond recognition.

Homecoming is the hardest because while you count the days left to hug the ones you love and think of ways to make up for all the birthdays and anniversaries you have missed, you also know that it is almost inevitable that you have to leave consequently. Coming home is tricky because you realize you have changed only when you don’t quite fit into your old role.

That perhaps, is what makes coming home worth it. That, your mom’s best cooking, the park you played as a kid and that old mahogany bookshelf you can’t wait to inherit.

Musings of museums, memories and metaphors

I often miss the pace of a fast city when I am in Lucknow. I long to walk on a crowded pathway trying to avoid being elbowed by strangers. I miss being unnoticed in a swarm of beings. I wish people had less time to stand and notice your awkward self while you ask the same guy for an address twice.
In other times, I am bewildered by the nonchalance of people living in big cities. How can we fail to notice the things of beauty hidden in our own cities? How can we not see the beauty in them? It is true that modern urban spaces in India have few things to stand and stare at. The glass walled buildings are hardly enchanting to me. When you ask someone what you could do in their city on a weekend, a list of best eateries, pubs and other hang out joints are recommended. That’s what cities are known for after all.
I am guilty of knowing Pecos and Guzzlers in Bangalore better than Ragi Gudda temple.
This is true of the friend who thought that going to Big Chill should be on top of my list while completely writing off an ancient abandoned step well in the middle of a business district.
***
More often than not I get entangled in a my city versus your city debate. I’m college and sometimes with colleagues. While we all hold our hometowns dear, the charm of a new city is something I cannot give up on. So sometimes I think going back to Bangalore is all I have to think of. On other occasions, I tell myself that the city might not be big enough for the dreams in my head.
Home is where?, I often wonder. As cliched as it sounds, I am always in love with the people I haven’t met and the cities I haven’t been to.
***
When I think of my childhood, the picture of Airlines Hotel comes to my mind. For keeping my grandfather’s ritualistic game of rummy- a secret from granny, I was rewarded with a masala dosa from Airlines. When the restaurant closed a few months ago, I mourned like I did on the day my grandfather died. Urban spaces are so intrinsically connected to our sense of belonging! I wish I could have visited the place one last time.
I saw facebook check in of a friend who did. Nope, that and a selfie by the board I would have skipped.
***

Talking of selfies and check ins on social media, can’t we pass a law against clicking selfies in museums?
Arnab and the nation would want to know if I am out of my mind to suggest something like this when the selfie clicking age group doesn’t even go to museums anymore.
I know that is partially true. I guess someone spread this half truth that there are deserted corners in a few buildings in Delhi. Imagine the joy of Delhi boys. Then when someone told them that the entry is either free or Rs 1/- if you show them a student ID card. Couple that with the free air conditioning and there you have Delhi’s young couples wanting to soak in a bit of history and appreciate art.
For Pete’s sake, the selfies/pictures here must stop bro. Your girlfriend standing next to a chalukya sculpture being immortalized isn’t really cool. Hasn’t anyone told these guys?

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Of ladies seats and legalities.

This post is a culmination of several rants and observations. Against the risk of being reminded of my ‘female privilege’, here I go.

Ever traveled alone on an interstate bus in India? Not when papa/bhai buy you a ticket, some snacks for the journey, then drop you off at the station. No, not that. I am talking about the kinds when you reach the bus station directly and try to buy a ticket for the next bus. You wouldn’t try private buses, obviously.
In such moments when the guy at the ticket counter tells you that only the last seat is available, your joy knows no bounds. But then, he says he can’t give that ticket to you. The seat next to you is booked by a creature with a penis and hence the computer refuses to let a woman reserve that ticket for herself.
That’s the rule, he argues. After giving a dose of modern feminism to everyone from the ticket issuing clerk to the depot manager, they lie to the computer that ‘Apurva’ is an ‘M’ and not an ‘F’ and print a ticket for you. You lie to the conductor that it was typo. He knows it is a bloody lie and warns you against asking for a seat change if the man next to you makes you uncomfortable.
You see the man sitting two rows away happily scratching his crotch and wish there were ‘pink’ buses only for women to take you everywhere.

Most of the city buses you have seen have ‘reserved seats’ for women. They are usually marked by a typical diagram of a creature with a bindi, luscious hair and big breasts. About 9 seats for them in a bus with 40 seats. Now the rest aren’t only for men, mind you. They are ‘general’ seats which are occupied by those who aren’t meek enough to seek reservation in public transit seating. Senior citizens and disabled persons also share those ‘reserved seats’ with women.
In all these years you are yet to see women occupying the rear end of any bus. In fact when you sat in the general seats, you’ve been asked by men to vacate the seat and use the ladies’s side of the bus.
Take the general coach of a Delhi Metro and you’ll get pushed around and touched inappropriately. Complain and wise men will be quick to suggest that you should have taken the ‘ladies’ instead.
You wonder if ‘reserved seats’ mean security or segregation!

You are about to catch the 10 pm mumbai local running half way across the city to reach home. Of course you take the ladies compartment because you know that post 10 pm public transport usage is at your peril.
The ladies compartment is empty, except for the police constable who sits there for your security. This time it isn’t your regular old guy with a paunch and a thick moustache, the one who seems too tired to even move his lathi.
This unfamiliar guy must have been around 25. He is young and he even smiled at you when you looked at him. You catch him texting and smiling at his phone. You clutch your phone tightly and look away.
Did he just tap your shoulder? Oh yes, he did. He wants to know if you are okay? If you would have any trouble reaching home from the local station. You think of the option you have. Jumping off a moving train isn’t one of them. You ignore his wicked smile and get down at the next stop.

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Patronising political rhetoric: Will women’s issues ever take centre stage?

In the midst of all sorts of chaos and mayhem, the issues that gathered centre stage have just been rhetoric. Secularism, majoritarinism, developmental agenda are the few issues discussed extensively by political parties without explaining their stand would be on these issues.
For issues that needed attention being given a miss, everyone is to be blamed along with media.
No one who were in a position to do so, have asked the right questions.

Women’s issues have taken a back seat because her freedom obviously is way behind in the list of priorities. We didn’t see a single leader taking about these issues.
One can only wonder how these leaders live in such a state of obliviousness, so completely out of touch with reality. It also falls upon each one us, the ’empowered women’ for not making our issue the discourse they have to follow to garner our votes.

Today, the new PM elect says ‘yeh sarkar mann sammann ke liye tarate huye hamari maa beheno ke liye hain’

Women aren’t to be respected because they yearn for it. They are people too. Equality of gender isn’t rocket science for sure! I don’t need to be your mother or sister to be respect and to be treated fairly.

When will Indian politicians stop patronizing women? Maybe when we display an outrage proportional to the mindless comments these men make?

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I will cheer for Pakistan if I want to. I am an Indian.

Being a patriot entails essentially cheering for your own sports team? Let me recount the times we have seen Punjabis settled in the UK cheering for us when India plays England at the Lords.
The 2003 finals, there were a number of Indians origin Australians rooting for Sachin in South Africa.
I agree that when it comes to India and Pakistan, tensions run high and it is a different scenario. I for one, think a series knock down against the English team which taught us to play cricket in the first place is almost equal to the Queen apologizing for Jallianwalabagh massacre.
In Meerut, students have been charged with sedition for supporting the Pakistani Cricket team. Even on the day of the match, there were intolerant bigots who took offence that there were Indians who praised the Pakistani side.
Cricket is a game of beauty. A true fan enjoys a 4 down the mid wicket by Virat Kohli as much as Shahid Afridi’s straight 6!
If you need proof of this watch the IPL again. We wouldn’t mind Chris Gayle hammering Indian bowlers if that is entertaining for us. I am as much Indian as Mr. Subramanian Swamy is even if I support the Pakistani Cricket team in one match!
The charges of sedition must immediately be dropped and all the political parties must clarify their stand on cricket diplomacy and more importantly on that draconian law on sedition that we have in India.

I have one thing to say to people who are offended by my blog post: If Pakistan proved Imran Khan is a better bowler than Kapil Dev ( which I think is the case) should we settle the Kashmir dispute in favour of Pakistan?

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