Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Priceless Money

As I drove past a busy junction in the city of Mumbai, I noticed a hoarding. There was a man with a blissful smile, portrayed there. A trademark long beard, abundant use of Saffron and a glory circle around his face, emphasized that he is someone who can show me the golden path to success, to be happy, to be healthy, to be everything I want to be. The message was well delivered.

There would be many on the streets of Mumbai who would drive past such hoardings. There would be many who would march past, many who would see them as they stand, drenched in their own, or maybe someone else’s sweat in the local trains of Mumbai or read something similar in the newspapers.

Who doesn’t want to be successful, happy, healthy and rich? I can almost sense someone arguing that how about people who are already successful, happy, healthy and rich? The answer is that nature of these achievements is subjective. Do you know anyone who has enough money? Enough success? Enough happiness? “Yeh Dil Mange More” is the funda of today. So is the booming market for trailblazers of success, happiness and money.

Once upon a time, when my grandmother was alive, she would recite religions scripts, regurgitate the Om. As a child, I queried her many times, why did she do that every day? I found it pretty humdrum to sit at one place and go through that routine with her. Those were seemingly her spiritual practices. She found her happiness in doing those. But who the hell has got the time in today’s world for being spiritual?

We somehow want to be happy. Our culture has engraved on our minds with all the might, that spirituality is the pathway of happiness. So we seek spirituality. But we don’t have time that the age old methods of pursuing spirituality demand. So what do we do? We outsource spirituality.

Why not? In this world of globalization, India is booming because of outsourcing. The so called middle class is getting fatter and fatter every day, in terms of their numbers, money and weight as well. Time is the scarcest commodity. If I can buy spirituality by spending some of my money, why not? And so is the booming market for spiritual Gurus and Babas.

Sometimes I feel that these institutions called Spiritual Gurus and Babas are nothing but management consultants. They tell us something that we already know, and expect hefty donations in return. They have a corporate lifestyle and I don’t blame them. In fact, they are the smart people. They know where the business opportunity lies and they are able to encash that opportunity.

I am not against people spending money if they gain happiness or even a simulation of happiness out of these barren exercises. What worries me is that this is an attempt to cure the symptom, not the cause. Have we really thought why we are not happy?

Is it because we are too busy? Is it because we know we have money that can buy everything? Or maybe it is because we “think” that money can buy everything, but in reality it cannot buy the most sought after pleasures of life.

Could money buy a smile? Could money buy a tear? Could money buy a beautiful voice? Could money buy creativity? Could money buy the vista of sunset that you see with your loved one? Could money buy you the pleasure that one would get climbing Mount Everest?

But money is a great enabler. How can I undermine its importance? Should I become a money making machine?

To be or not to be, that is the question.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rain and the Sacrifice

Rain is something darling and dear to my heart. It reminds me of romance, my romance with life. The vista of rain, the smell of it, the feel of it, is so mesmerizing that I forget the present and take a leisurely stroll in the past. When my mum was not as old and when my father did not have gray hair, when my brother was as little as he could be, when I did not dance around on the tune of the clock, the time. When it hardly mattered what others thought of me and life was something so obvious that there was no shadow of death. Rain reminds me of that time.

I would hold to the railing of my balcony and look up at the skies when it rained. The rain water would plummet from the roof. Sometimes like a waterfall, sometimes like the water stream that trickled down from the common water tap we had. But it had the motion. It made me feel I am moving. In reality rain drops were moving and I was where I was. Isn’t that a simile of life? I feel it is. We interpret things around us and think we are making them happen. In reality it’s just a feel that we get. Things move as destined. Yes, destined. Some call it god, some call it superpower. I call it destiny. Like the rain water that poured down from the roof.

The rain also reminds me of my Sindabad dreams, making paper boats and watching them disappear as the rain water carried them to their destiny, probably some sewer. But that never mattered to me. What mattered to me was making those boats and seeing them off. Giving myself a ride of lifetime in my mind, all the unseen places and people that I wanted to see. I would think the boat would take me there, to the land of the Gulliver and The Lilliputians, the Cinderella, the Mickey Mouse and the Donald Duck, the land of the Panchatantra, where animals talked like I did.

Who can deny the age old connection between the rain and the school? It did start on 13th of June those days. I can still smell the new books and the notebooks with brown covers, the raincoat and the gumboots, the uneasy feeling of the end of the holidays, the necessity to attend the school, at the same time, eagerness to meet the friends?

When it rained the other day, I was under my own steam on the road, inhaling the fragrance of the rain and remembering what a little princess I was, when I could. I had the umbrella, but didn’t care to use it. What mattered to me was meeting the rain, my friend from yesteryears, like a true friend, arm in arm. I was lost in myself, the world resembled heaven that day and I discerned something from the corner of my eye.

A child was sitting on the side of the road, begging. The child must have been the same age of me, when I was that little princess, trying to cover his head with a newspaper, a mere newspaper. There I was in front of him, drenched in water from heat to toe, enjoying the rain, my umbrella nicely folded and enjoying warmth of my handbag. There was a sudden strike of lightening in my head. What would this child remember of the rain when he will be my age? Will he survive to be my age? Will he get enough charity to sustain, so many more rains?

Where must he be staying? Some illegal slum, which would be hardly enough to sustain in the torrential rains that we have? Maybe something he may call his house, is already listed as illegal and to be taken down by the government. May be he is the one, who will strengthen the foundation of the so called Mumbai turned Shanghai.

What is his fault? That he was born in this country where, there are too many people, so that a single child cannot get special attention. That his country is democracy which doesn’t move, till it forgets why it wanted to move? Because India is on it’s way to become an economic superpower? And it’s a road of rich? Where rich will get richer and poor would become poorer?

As I thought about that child, people from the prosperous India, from their air conditioned cars and residential towers, in unison started shouting. Someone has to sacrifice. Someone has to sacrifice.

I just nodded to myself and reiterated. Someone has to sacrifice and that is him.

How beautiful was the rain!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dreams, Brains and Politicians

Finally I have arrived to the world of blogging or should I say “English” blogging. Actually I am not really new to this singular group called “Bloggers”. However, with the brain that can think only in my mother tongue, it took some determination and courage to try my hand at English. So far it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. I have already written few sentences and my spell checker tells me that I am not doing too badly with the spellings. That’s got to be positive. And as a reader, if you are reading this line, that is even more encouraging as you have not given up on my feeble effort to learn this esoteric art yet.

The first question mark that I faced with this bustle was the name of the blog. I have always been a person with dreams since I was a kid. Not that I had any special dreams. As a child, I had the most common dreams, of not being able to answer a single question in an important examination, of ghosts and of prince charming riding his horse, on his way to pick up his girlfriend princess. Not any different to an everyday girl, I guess. And now, that I am no more a child, I have realized that, at least in my dreams, I can take the liberty of being that striking princess.

They say dream big. I try and fail miserably. My dreams are not about being superwoman or a supermodel. My dreams are miniature dreams of reality but nevertheless my dreams are my reflection and they are darling to me. So I thought “Darling Dreams” would be a superlative name for my blog. On a lighter note, writing an English blog was something I could do only in my dreams. So is my blog name apt.

The stage is set. What am I going to write here? I really don’t know. Maybe express myself though the most inexpressible media for me, the English blog. Maybe talk about anything and everything under the sun, which fascinates me, tickles my imagination. It could be a donkey on the road or a politician. Do they sound analogous? They are my favorite anyways when it comes to witticism.

Let me end this blog by narrating a legend about a politician and his brain. This is from a Marathi song that I heard few days back.

A person visits a doctor. The doctor diagnoses that the patient has a problem with his brain and hence opens his skull and removes the brain for check-up. By the time the doctor is done with his work, the patient is gone. The doctor gets worried, advertises in the newspaper, announces in the national news, but in vein. No one comes forward to call for the unclaimed brain. Five years elapse and the patient returns to the doctor. He asks for his brain. The doctor recites all the efforts that he took to locate the patient and asks him why did he not come back to claim his brain.

Patient explains to the doctor. As the doctor was working on his brain, someone picked the patient up and nominated him as election candidate. Then he won the election, he was made a minister and since he had been made the minister he hasn’t needed his brain. Now that the 5 year period is over and that he has lost his chance to stand for an election, it’s the time that he will need his brain again, and hence he has come back to collect his brain.

Now you know, why politicians act the way they do…

- Sam