Sunday, January 20, 2008

LIC- zindagi ke sath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi

In my private conversations with God I have always wondered as to why does He give uncertainties in life, why can't we know what would happen to us the next moment, why does life need to be so complicated that we need to solve a puzzle everyday about how life would be the next day. I know some would argue that it depends on the way you look at it. It depends how complicated you make it, it just might be too simple but if you choose to ignore the obvious then it is bound to get complicated. So my brother (from the Paulo Cohelo's book) advised me that whenever I feel life is too complicated and tough, I should write it down and while writing I would find miracles happening. And to be honest just moments back I found myself in a true state of confusion and utter uncertainty, while now thinking about what exactly these thoughts were, I find them so mundane- unworthy of serious thoughts. There are a few things about which I cannot do anything, it has to happen naturally and things about which I can do something are not uncertain.

Isn't it really great to tell somebody who is most special to you that "I am like a LIC policy for you- zindagi ke sath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi" ... then where is the uncertainty ??!!??

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

For Nawab

I just completed watching "Taare Zameen Par"(TZP). Ishaan is a dyslexic kid who is not good in studies but is an amazing painter... His brush strokes convey what words fail to convey, the use of bold colors and the confident strokes, all tell a story on the canvas. He is not an achiever in studies and so is discarded by his parents and teachers only to be discovered by Amir Khan who tells his parents and teachers about his problem and works hard with the kid to reach a respectable level in studies and an amazing level in painting.

I cried so much while I watched the movie. There was a pang of guilt in me, guilt that I even scolded Nawab once for not performing well in Mathematics. At Salaam Baalak Trust (an NGO for street children) as a Mathematics teacher I tried my best to teach Mathematics to Nawab, Sharafat, Tabrej and Satinder. Sharafat and Satinder were really good, Tabrej was good too but was not consistent while Nawab was the one who felt himself out of place amongst this group. He was not quick at picking up concepts though never showed that he was struggling to understand. He would portray himself to be a bad boy not willing to study than confess that he is not able to understand. I scolded him once for he would not do any of the homeworks I would ask him to do and he never showed up after that. Today while watching the movie, I cried, cried really hard, cried for not having understood Nawab.

I remember once while teaching him, I said "Nawab, if you don't like doing mathematics then tell me honestly, I am here to help you, we can do something else. You like literature, so we can do that instead." And he was so elated at that only to see his friends reject the idea as they wanted to do maths. I now wish I had more time to have sat with him after the class to discuss literature. The day I scolded him was because he was not doing anything that I asked him to, I gave him simpler problems than the others but he still would not do them.

I did try to explain him enough though. I explained him that it was not essential for him to top in this race where everybody is running after something or the other, I always encouraged him to do what he was good at and enjoyed the best, but then also explained him the need to just do a little bit so that he manages to be there where he wants to be. He did understand that but I could not devote enough time to help him with it. I wish I could help him find out the meaning in his life. I wish he himself finds out the meaning in his life. He is a bright kid, only needs some guidance and the confidence that he can do what he believes in. Aah! I just remembered, he asked me one day what it needs to be a Radio Jockey... I said no Maths for sure :-) good speaking ability and a great sense of humor and you have both... but yes you would need some educational qualification and so you see it's important that you manage to pass these tenth boards.

His tenth board exams are coming now. Its mid Jan and they start in March, not much time left and I am not there to see his progress. Nawab, this post is for you. To tell you that YOU CAN DO IT. Just do the chapters from your maths book which you feel you are comfortable with, do them well. Attempt all the questions that come from your done chapters, solve a few practice papers and see if you score pass marks by attempting those questions. Ask Rajan sir and Maths sir to take some maths tests for you before real exams. And don't panic, you wont need maths in Radio Jockeying :-)

Sharafat and Satinder, revise well all the chapters. Revising means working out problems and not reading them like you read literature. Work out more and more back year question papers as that will give you a lot of practice and confidence. Tabrej same goes for you, but with extra caution of staying calm so that you don't go blank and make mistakes.

My best wishes are with you guys! May you rock always. May God bless you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy marriage!

Just got an email marriage invitation from a very special friend of mine. This friend is special for many reasons. First, the way we had our first meeting and second, the way we had our second meeting.

He was my classmate in my school in class-X. That is all that I have known him for, one year as a classmate. And to top it we never talked, not even a single hello did we ever exchange. The only conversation I remember having with him was on the day when we had our last exams and he asked me "Erpor ki korbi? Aager ki plans?" , which in English means what would you do next? what are you plans? and we had a small two liner chat where I replied that I am not sure what I would do next as a lot depends on the result of these exams and he said that he would go to Kolkata.

With such little conversation, you would be wondering why he is still so special. He is, coz he would make me feel special everyday while I was in his class for that one year. Everyday as I would come out of my hostel which was inside the school campus to go to the building where our classes would be, I would feel two eyes following my each step. I used to get conscious earlier, but then got used to the idea of him watching me. The whole day in the class, he in spite of sitting on the front bench and me on the third bench, he would have his head turned around to stare at me. I would always wonder if I look so funny that he can't take away his eyes off me, but whatever it was, I felt special indeed. I remember how my girl-friend would keep a book in front of my face on getting irritated by this as she had a crush on him.

So yes he was very special, the whole class would tease him, would pester him to go and express himself, but something would always stop him from coming and even talking to me. Oh! probably I guess I looked scary and not funny that he could never muster courage to talk to me.

But he remained special, and we left the school and I had no touch with him thereafter.

Our second meeting was after 8 years i.e last year when he tracked me down through an Orkut community (for those who don't know about orkut, it is a social networking site by Google on the lines of Facebook). I had not thought even in my wildest of dreams that I would ever get to talk with him, though he was somebody I could never really wipe out of my memory. We started chatting on gtalk (Google's chat service). He was not the shy guy anymore or probably it was easy for him to talk to me as he was not seeing me anymore and writing is always easier than speaking. But apart from all these, our lives had changed a lot. He was in a relationship for the last four years with a girl he met in college (I guess) at Kolkata . Our discussions were more centered around career and current affairs. I never asked him about his behavior in school but he did make a passing remark regarding that when he confessed that he had "tons of crush" on me though he could never tell me then. I did not pester him to tell any more on that.

I have again lost touch with him since the last five - six months now and it would be interesting to see how our third meeting is like. Nevertheless I just got a marriage invitation from his new email id, and my joy knows no bounds. This friend would remain special for all the weirdness this friendship carries, and I wish him a very happy and blessed married life.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The religion that Hinduism is

I am no prophet, I am no expert in religion, I am a normal Hindu who believes in what she has understood in all these years. Whatever I am going to write in this article are my personal feelings and might not be pleasing to everyone's sentiments because that is not what I intend to do through this. I only intend to vent my long suppressed feelings about what I have been seeing happening around me in the name of religion. Apologies if these thoughts hurt anyone.

Being born and brought up in a 'liberated' Hindu family, ('liberated' because I was never forced to practice my religion but left on my own to understand it and accept it and practice it the way I want to) with each passing day I am appreciating Hinduism more. My present surroundings, living with Christians in a Christianity dominated country makes me rather unwillingly compare my religion with theirs every day. Religion is something I wish to talk about the least, as I feel they are very personal feelings and are meant to be enlightening to oneself the way they believe in it, while here it is more of convincing others to feel enlightened the way they have felt it. How can you make somebody go through the experience you have gone through? I don't doubt the intentions behind such a deed, they believe that anybody who is not a Christian has probably not gone through such an experience, not "born again" as they say, and so think that if persuasion can change my life, make me feel God and help me get born again then what's wrong in that.

But what I don't understand is that why do they need to persuade somebody to feel this. Can persuasion ever generate feelings, enlightenment cannot happen by somebody coaxing you everyday, it has to come from within- on its own. In a class a teacher teaches the same things to everybody, but everybody grasps the material differently through their unique ways. Then what's the need of persuasion, instead why not ask our Gods to be that powerful that they can communicate without the need of anybody to persuade. Hinduism does not need persuasion to be followed. Nobody asked me to be a Hindu, I picked it up because I appreciated its open-mindedness. It is subtle and yet so profound to me. I don't bother myself if people around me are enlightened about Hinduism or not, it's not my job to persuade them about my God and ask them to go through what I have felt, my God says that it is His job and He takes care of that. I want to believe in what I believe without having to wonder why others don't believe the way I do.

I was recently reading an article in which the Christian missionaries in Orissa were attacked, my immediate reaction was of disgust, then on further probing I found that they were attacked because they were alleged to persuade Hindus to convert themselves into Christians. This made me think for a while. Myself experiencing the extent to which this persuasion goes, telling those poor villagers that all your miseries would be taken care of by God if you become a Christian is not something I would disbelieve. So the anger seems justified to me, though under no circumstance do I justify the way it was vented. Then how does one vent these thoughts, by writing a blog which only a couple of people read, or by giving a speech which only tens of people hear. I am still to find an answer to this.

I have come to accept that people need religion, or rather I would say that they need a faith to hold on. In times of distress and failures in life, this faith helps one from breaking apart, and so it is to some extent essential to make everybody aware of the existence of this faith. But one needs to decide to what extent do we want to persuade somebody in accepting that faith, when should we let that person decide on his own about what to do next. There can not be any Government censorship on this, only moral censorship can work. Tolerance to accept whatever the person chose for himself is needed.