Thursday, September 30, 2010


They come in numbers beyond count, singing, dancing, laughing, and walking all the way from all corners of Maharashtra - from Dhule, Nashik, Pandharpur, Khandala. (All these places are in different districts, separated by a few more districts). They walk through the rains, enduring the blistering afternoons and the cold wet nights. Some of them are mere children, sometimes piggybacked by their parents; some are really old, having seen 7 decades or so. Yet they all walk, to meet their God who chose to live in this small town in a godforsaken district of Vidarbha.

The men are dressed in white, the women in saffron, sometimes in bright shades of pink and green and red. They play manjeera, lezims, dholak and a variety of folk instruments as they walk, singing Abhang and bhajans and dancing together to those tunes as they sing. Somewhere you see two girls playing fugadi, while a dholak beating beside them spurs their momemtum and the rest of the girls clap around them egging them on to play faster. At some other place you see 8 to 10 year old boys playing Lezim rhythmically as taught by their instructor who is supervising them. Its a sight that can make a dead heart leap.

You might be wondering whether these people have nothing else to do. No, thats not the case. These people aren't rishis who have renounced all worldly life. They are normal people, having a family, a house and a neighbourhood just as much as we do. They aren't people who have someone to earn at home while they are here. They live hand-to-mouth, mostly farmers and labourers and 'lower class' representatives. They are people who have seen the worst of life - poverty, illiteracy, famines, droughts, sickness, maybe even suicides. And yet here they are, their faith in their God undaunted by all that life has shown them.

Exhilarated, we watch them as they move, enjoying the music, the noise, even the blaring of the loudspeakers. We have lived with their God since we were born, yet their devotion is an example to even the most dedicated of us. Its a devotion that can spur a belief in the most atheistical of all beings, a devotion that will bring a tear to the eyes of the staunchest non-believer. In their simple yet profound beliefs, the legacy of Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram remains alive. In their earthly, yet unearthly presence, we find the God who is believed to live in the heart of every human being.

 Every year, 5-6 lakh such pilgrims, called Varkaris in Marathi, come to my hometown Shegaon to pay their respects to Shri Gajanan Maharaj, a saint contemporary of Sai Baba. A salute to you, Varkari!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Place to Sit

A weird thought I know, but recently I have come to realise the value of a very small insignificant thing - a place to sit quietly and do something that I want to do without being disturbed. Such a place is easily available at college - you have the library to sit and read or write or even watch a movie, you have the IPC to take your laptop to, then there's SAC, and IC, the hostel common room, and above all, you have your own room, which you don't share with anyone.

Living in a city replete with Crosswords and CCDs, I realise the value of these joints now. All I want is some place where I can take a notebook to scribble, a book to read, and my laptop to watch Lord of the Rings or Naruto whenever I feel like. CCD is a good option, I know, but not for someone who doesn't like coffee or chocolate or any product based on either of them. There are libraries and reading rooms, but they do not permit the use of laptops. Then there are internet cafes, but they are too crowded and too cramped. And there are the book stores like Crossword and Landmark, but obviously they don't allow you to take your bag(gage) inside.

Being stuck in this quandary sometimes makes me wonder - A place to sit?! Thats what I miss in this huge city which has a mall at every turn! And it also makes me wonder, wont it be a great place to build - a place to sit? No coffee to serve or books to offer - just a place with tables and chairs and electricity at the user's disposal. In this fast and crowded life which doesn't ever seem to stop, won't people be willing to pay a few bucks an hour to just sit in solitude, away from work, home, roommates and everything? I don't know. I wonder, though.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Like Poles

Opposites Attract, goes a well known modern proverb. This one is widely used among youngsters to describe some pairs of people belonging to opposite sexes in various stages of relationship (friendship, friendship tending to love, timepass, love, love tending to marriage, etc.). People generally say this when the guy and girl in question have seemingly opposite characteristics. Typically the girl is chirpy, the guy is silent; the girl is short-tempered, the guy is cool; the girl is an artist, the guy is a nerd... many such combinations. Then Science steps in to support them, and the theory is established. Opposites attract.

But I beg to differ. Somehow, it doesn't fit. I mean, imagine this conversation (Assume the guy to be trying to attract the girl):

Guy: Hey, wassup? what plans for tonight?
Girl: Well, all my friends are hardcore FIFA followers, they all are gonna watch the match. And I hate football, so presently, no plans :|
Guy: You hate football?! Hey, guess what? I looove football! Wow, we are already opposites :D Shouldn't we be attracted?

Not at all attractive :-P

A better conversation would be:
Guy: Hey! I hate football too! So what say, we sit and talk over a cuppa where there's no noise of the fans shouting?
Girl: Sure! I love Back-IC, its generally very silent. What do you think?
Guy: Back-IC is one of my favourites! So, 4.30? 
Girl: Cool!


Personally, I believe that atleast in the initial stages of a relationship, the stage when the attraction starts, the similarities attract. How cool is it, to discover that the beautiful girl you steal glances at, is an atheist, just like you? Or the cute guy you had a crush on, loves peaceful places, just like you do? Perhaps, a little more down the relationship lane, you start to like the opposites, and therein comes the second part of my theory: Opposites keep the attraction intact. They kinda act as a glue between  the similar particles held together by attractive forces.

So concluding this theory, Likes attract and Opposites keep together! After all, scientifically speaking, the universe is governed by a force that speaks of small attraction between similar particles, and not by the huge force of attraction between the opposites!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Another Lecture

Warning: Read this when you're not in a hurry. I'm sorry, I couldn't make it any shorter.

This is a discussion between my dad and a friend of his, Dr. Kulkarni, which I was also a part of. For some time, I opposed what they had to say, but after some time, I decided to let it go and just listen. Dr. Kulkarni is the Dean of Mechanical Engineering in an engineering institute in Maharashtra. My Dad works in the State Bank of India, and is much more educated than he is qualified.

I don't remember how the discussion started off exactly, but dad and uncle were of the view that our generation in general is very irresponsible and insensitive. It started with they thinking that we all are very lazy about college education.

DK: Yeah, you think you all are the most knowledgeable people, and teachers are just some people too dumb to do anything else. you don't attend lectures, and a teacher who makes it compulsory is instantly the most notorious person among you. What you dont realise is that the curriculum is designed by people who have been through what you are going through right now, and are much more experienced, and perhaps, more intelligent than you.

Me: Well, i refuse to believe that students dont respect their teachers and don't attend lectures just for the fun of it. In my college, lectures are not compulsory, but we all do attend the lectures where the teacher teaches well and there is some positive outcome. However you should admit that not all the teachers have enough knowledge or the ability of conveying it to us. I'm sure there aren't any teachers who are good at what they do, and are still insulted by students.

Dad: No but after going to college, all you think of is your own fun. Once you're away from home, you've all your freedom, and that becomes the most important thing to you. You forget that someone back home is paying for your 'independence', as you call it, and that someone rests all their hopes on your future. For you, they are just another burden who 'dont understand anything'.

Me: You can't blame us all totally. Our education system is so testing that right from kindergarten we have been taught to be the best. For us, even playing was a competition ; we had to defeat the opponent all the time. So by the time we reach Undergraduate studies, we're fed up of competing. We deserve a break, its only fair. I mean, at the age when all we do is switch from school to tuition to another tuition to home back for studies, you used to be playing gulli cricket all evening after school.

DK: Who said our education wasn't tough?! Our teachers used to beat us up so often, these days corporal punishment is illegal! We were punished for small mistakes, and parents never interfered even if the punishment was severe and the offence negligible. Parents themselves were so strict, that we thought it was easier if the teacher handled the punishment.

Dad: Yes, we didn't dare look into our father's eye. But this isn't about it. We don't tell you not to have fun. All we expect is a little consideration of your parents' expectations. For you, your friends and your fun along with them becomes much more important than the things which should be your priority sometimes. If your dad says no to something, your immediate reaction is 'shit yaar!' I wonder why 'shit' is the most common reaction to parents's view.

Me: Oh come on, thats what a teenager might feel and do. By the time we go to college, we are much more mature. Some of college students might be like that, but then you can't expect everyone to be sensible. However, friends are important to us at every age. We all have been throught the same gruelling system, and we understand each other a little better.

Dad: Oh we too had friends, but your friendship is different. When one of our friends had a sister's marriage at home, we used to be the chief labourers. We knew it when a friend's father was sick and needed help, you don't even know the profession or income of half of your friends' fathers. Most, not all, but most of your friendships revolve so much around messaging and chatting and orkutting, that you forget to see the essentials underneath. Without your cellphone, your friendship is lost.

DK: Yeah, cellphone, another thing you all are crazy about! I remember a guy i caught in the class while he was using his cell. He had a cellphone worth 20000 bucks, and when asked what his father did, he said his father was a farmer and that his education fees are being through loans. I was shellshocked! Why, why is it so important to have a cellphone with a camera and music and a loadful of crap when all you need is a device to call and talk? What is it - esteem in your circle or a wish to look modern or an inability to adjust - what?!

Dad: The West affects you a lot. The children there have all the independence they need, yeh India mein hi saala sab restrictions hai! well, in the West, children earn for themselves since they are 18. That you won't do. You would ask your parents for all the favours, but wont accept even a small restriction from their part.

DK: When we were kids, we used to work hard and wait for our results, so that we could ask our parents for a bicycle or a new dress. And the happiness we used to feel at that time - I don't think you will feel it even when you get something 10 times as expensive! You don't realise the value of small things - the value of what your parents do without you asking them to do it, the value of an oppurtunity to study without supporting financial burdens, the value of money being spent on you without any hesitation, you just don't realise that.

Me: I don't think all students are like that, and even if they are, its more out of immaturity than out of disrespect or something. Im sure they all become responsible at some age.

Dad: I rode my first bike when I was 24, my son rode his when he was 14. You want all the good things early enough! Your generation is the one for shortcuts, instant glory, instant fame, instant success, but no patience. Hows that going to work? You can't filter out all the good things to keep, thats not how life is. You like easy solutions, and life's anything but easy. This doesn't apply to you or most of your friends in particular, I know. But the vast majority of India's student population is getting wasted in such things. We don't say anything to anyone, coz then the standard response is 'shit yaar.. another lecture!

I wanted these thoughts to reach the student community in general, in a non-lecture format. Perhaps very few people are like this, perhaps the elders have too negative a perception about our generation, or perhaps they just like to complain a lot, but perhaps, there is also an ounce of truth in all this criticism, which we all ought to take in the right spirit.