Happy half year

I have just received a post informing that today is the 183rd day of the year 2020 and there are 183 days left in the remaining part of this leap year.

I think that in the living memory of the current generation, there wouldn’t be any other period as difficult as the last 183 days of the current year have been! It started with the usual fanfare- start of a new decade, some people equating the new year to be be as exciting as the cricketing game of 20::20 and such usual stuff that we experience at the beginning of each new year!

Corona virus was still a Wuhan centric phenomenon and social media was agog with curiosity for this new contagious viral strain. And February saw Covid making its muted presence in India in Kerala and by third week of March, we had one day Janata curfew, which was soon followed by lockdown that has continued till date – tightly enforced in some parts a little relaxed in a few others.

What started mutely is now in its full pandemic flow and major cities of India – Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai are in its grip. Businesses are down, joblessness increasing, stories of human tragedy are unfolding and there’s no end in sight! As if this was not enough, two severe cyclones ravaged East and West coasts, untimely rains have wreaked havoc on ready to reap crops and India had to face the ugly face of Chinese expansionism by losing 20 of its brave hearts. Pakistan is choosing to spread terror here rather than control Covid back home and Nepal is turning out to be China’s new ally!

The very thought that the we are only halfway through with this year 2020 is shuddering. Moreover, while Corona doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to spare us from its fangs, where are China and Pakistan going? We have to face it all – bravely, intelligently and unitedly !

If Corona spares me

Why should I be happy?

For I have lost my job

And my life has become so crappy!

Cars and vehicles are not on road

But petrol is rocketing Sky high

All I can do to look skywards

And ask the almighty, why?

Bible says love thy neighbours

But that only I am supposed to know

For our neighbours Pakistan and China

It’s conspiracy so that India goes slow

I welcomed 2020 with great fanfare

The way I welcome each new year

Half way down the line

There’s no cheer but only eye with a tear!

Let’s hope the next 183 days are at least not worse if the happy days are still some distance away.

Live the moment

Just saw the above photograph posted by someone in a Facebook group of which I am a member too! As is said , “ a picture is worth a thousand words”. The above picture shook me to the core of my heart. The boy has used his chappal as a prop for mobile phone with camera to click a selfie with his other innocent friends. The picture immediately transported me back to my early childhood when all our desires used to get fulfilled by use of props as our parents could not afford any of the expensive reals. The chopper that was used for washing clothes when washing machines were unheard of would double up as a cricket bat ! A 25 p non working plastic watch would adorn my wrist, being displayed with pride.

As a small boy, I was extremely fond of toys such as mini bus, truck or car. It was difficult for my parents to buy such toys as they were expensive by our economic standards. I distinctly remember making a bus out of an empty shoe box or any other solid cube having 3 dimensions would be my car or truck! I also remember my father having actually bought me a pick up truck toy on my 7th birthday that I used for years though it’s wheels and body crumbled under its excess exploitation!

In contrast, children of today belonging to affluent families have expensive phones, watches, shoes, toys at their beck and call and they hardly value them. What was a childhood dream and a pure aspiration of yore is taken for granted today! But in these days of Corona, when lockdown is providing people lot of time to take stock of their lives, it’s pictures like the above that remind you of the fact that happiness is not a function of what you have what you don’t but how you enjoy whatever you have and live the moment. We waste our lifetime running after material possessions – the joy provided by that prop of an empty cardboard box doubling up as a toy car was several notches above the joy of actually possessing a luxury sedan!

As Mahatria would say: “

Contentment is your ability to look back the past with no regrets. You should be happy with what you have. It does not stop you from being ambitious about your future. Contentment is a result and effect that is born from the past. Ambition is a futuristic emotion.

One of the takeaways from the current Corona pandemic is – let’s live the moment and be happy with whatever we have for now we have learnt that it’s completely unknown when a crisis will bring everything to a standstill. The children in the photograph are superb interpretation of Mahatria’s thoughts.

3 Cs or C Cube

Please don’t get perplexed by the title and as the blog progresses, readers will understand the appropriateness of the title.

We have a way of expressing things in triplets or sets of three. In our childhood, we all would have heard the importance of possessing 3 Rs – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (and not 3 Rs of the image above, which is a today’s take), which basically highlighted the need for education. We all would have heard of 3 Ws that was mainly used in the context of good lives associated with sailors – Women, Wealth and Wine! Similarly, understanding and realising the criticality of 3Cs and adjusting to the new way of life is of absolute relevance in today’s context – Corona, China and Cyclones!

Corona is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon and social distancing, masks, washing hands and avoiding crowded places are new normals. China is a superpower that wants to rule the world. Actually, it’s expansionism knows no bounds. Having established its economic supremacy over the entire world by becoming the global manufacturing hub, it now wants to establish geographical supremacy by lording over seas and land masses. So it’s pursuing ambitious road corridors projects that are basically aimed at dumping Chinese goods into countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Taiwan, Vietnam and consolidating its military fortification on the borders with these countries. It’s dominance ( the appropriate word would be Dadagiri) of South China Sea is now a global concern. Unfortunately, it’s our neighbour with whom we share a long border and hence multiple troubled spots. In a way, it’s unfortunate for China too that mighty India has the ability to check its evil design. And the third C is for cyclones- first Aamphan, then Nisarga. The way monsoon has covered the entire country ( spread has been the fastest in many years) and wreaking havoc in Central and Eastern parts is also not normal but in a manner of speaking, cyclonic. And what would you call Tiddi dal or the swarms of locusts destroying our crops? Aren’t they a kind of cyclone?

And C cube is basically representative of volume or the dimensions plus the depth of the issues affecting us! These are not ordinary issues that come and go or are encountered frequently! These are grave once in a lifetime issues that are leaving such a deep and lasting impact on our lives that our future generations may lead an altogether new lifestyle! And here I am not only talking of Corona ! We are so used to everything Chinese that even our idols, to whom we offer prayers everyday are made in China. Next generation may like to be more aatmanirbhar or self dependent! And the abuse of nature by our generation is definitely making the next generation more alive to environmental issue and that’s the context of cyclones!

We are deep into a malaise and while we should all look skywards for divine help, let’s not leave everything to 3 Gs – Government, Gallantry (of our forces) and God! Let’s get up and do our bit!

What a day it is !

Usually, I am an optimist. It’s very rare that an event can send me into throes of depression and negativity. I love development, growth, progress, communities, traditions, festivals – in sum, anything that has anything to do with humans and their spirit. This inherent trait of mine shines the brightest on days like today that are special, rare and significant for multiple reasons. Today is 21st June and it’s difficult to find another day that packs so much in it ! Today is Father’s Day, Internationals Yoga Day, Solar Eclipse and summer solstice that makes 21st June the longest day of the year!

Now the moot point is that why someone of an eternal optimist like me should be feeling low on such a day that in fact should be fascinating! When the country is facing the worst of Corona pandemic, with India now recording 4th highest number of cases in the world and we are all mourning the martyrdom of 20 of our bravest sons, who died fighting an evil enemy, even the most fascinating of the events can be sombre.

Annulus Solar eclipse is an astronomical event when moon comes between sun and earth, covering the sun, almost fully, but leaving its edges shining bright like a golden ring. Annulus solar eclipse is in a sense different from full solar eclipse for the moon is far too off to cover the sun fully! However, astrologists, soothsayers and people of their ilk are seeing this natural event almost as one of the most inauspicious happening impacting all the sun signs adversely. My take is that how come this class of people come thronging everywhere voicing their views on such occasions with so much emphasis and conviction but are most of the times clueless forecasting tragedies like Corona pandemic? If astrology is a science, it needs to provide solid evidence like other sciences; lest people are having enough of this!

I have earlier also in one of the blogs written that while certain days like Environment day etc are important to sensitise the people towards nature, days like father’s and mother’s are really not important, especially in Indian milieu where mother and father are given the status of Gods and respected like them. For us, like offering prayer to God is a everyday affair, respecting parents is also an important daily chore. Yoga is now an acknowledged practice that’s a holistic treatment for mankind’s well being. Summer solstice heralds change in the planetary positions and for us in India, indicative of summer having reached its peak. We can expect rains and then autumn, leading to onset of winters that are still some distance away!

The above is all part of nature and life as usual, but martyrdom of 20 of our brave hearts is a consequence of human greed and their need to possess indefinitely. For Pakistan, Kashmir remains the only agenda and it can go any far to try to attain its unholy ambition, though in the process that country is itself getting disintegrated. China’s ambition to dominate and rule the whole world is now a known fact and in doing so it can lay it’s claim on any part of the land! Nepal that always looked more to be an Indian state rather than a sovereign country is raising serious territorial issues with India.

In a sense, even Corona seems to be part of man’s insatiable greed if conspiracy theory of virus being synthetic manufactured in a lab in China is to be believed. Even if not so, our propensity to breed uncontrollably has made this pandemic exceptionally contagious in over populated and dense places like New York, Mumbai and Delhi!

My pessimism or loss of optimism arises from facts that Corona is only spreading and not going off any time soon, our unfriendly neighbours will be dealt with appropriately but in the process a few of our brave hearts could get martyred and at this stage I would rather not worry about Pakistan, Nepal, economy and other such issues.

My optimism or pessimism doesn’t matter. What matters is the well being and prosperity of my country and countrymen. If India becomes stronger, more prosperous and the most peaceful state, we will all be the winners.

May God bless my country, it’s citizens and it’s brave forces who are facing the worst of enemies in the most unfriendly situations ensuring our protection and prosperity!

Salute to brave hearts

The scenes are soul stirring. As the dead bodies of the National heroes, martyred in border skirmish with Chinese soldiers, reach their respective hometowns wrapped in National tricolour, their widows, young children, old parents and others attending funeral bid final adieu to their beloved! Of course, these scenes enrage the entire country and there’s no doubt that their extreme sacrifice will not go waste and the enemy will have to pay for their act of backstabbing our brave hearts.

It’s most unfortunate that for all our strengths, this propensity to politicise everything is proving to be a weak link. Whether it’s article 370 or Corona virus or now showdown with China, we as a nation are not able to pose a united front. Where’s the room for politics in martyrdom of our 20 brave hearts?

I would not risk prophesying what’s going to happen in future? Are we going to tackle China diplomatically or militarily? Will there be a precise military action or a full fledged war? What will be the consequences? How will other hostile neighbours react?

Actually, there was a time when this world had only two super powers – US and USSR! With the break up of USSR into several independent states, it no longer enjoys the might of yore! It’s poor economy has also contributed to its waning power. In the meantime, China first became economic superpower, being the manufacturing hub of the world and is now the second superpower along with US! This has severely disturbed balance of power in this region, with the unholy axis comprising China, Pakistan and now even Nepal threatening to keep Indian forces on their toes!

But we have nothing to worry for ours is a land of saints and seers, have historically faced enemies and intruders of all hues and colours, have the misfortune of having the worst neighbours, but we have inherent strength and resilience that’s reflected in the determination and resolve of our forces. Only, we must be one in the face of adversity, because apart from sovereignty of India, nothing else matters!

Let’s not forget the sacrifice of these 20 martyrs and the best obeisance we can pay them is by taking forward this war against enemy by uniting!

First Corona and now PLA

All along the day, the news said that 3 Indian soldiers, including one commanding officer, Colonel Santhosh Babu, were killed. And mind you, the deaths happened without a single bullet being fired; it happened in a physical scuffle with Chinese soldiers. It was the most upsetting news because while the Indian and the Chinese armies were staring at each other for the last few days, all channels of peaceful resolution were simultaneously working. And then this happened.

And towards the end of the day, this figure of 3 that sustained the whole day mounted to 20 and the number could be rising. I think it’s one of the most dastardly acts of unprovoked aggression by PLA by unilaterally choosing to disrespect LAC.

When Trump calls Corona virus Chinese Corona, it upsets China no end! The fact remains that this global pandemic started from China and now its policy to browbeat could also lead to onset of the great global disorder, if it does not restrain its ambition to dominate this world!

Will this blow up into a full fledged war or good sense will prevail on the aggressor ? Only time will tell! Right now, let’s pray for our lion hearted martyrs who laid down their lives selflessly and others who are fighting the enemies on multiple fronts! There’s no doubt on their bravery, tactical smartness or their capability! Our nation is safe with our brave hearts fighting a treacherous aggressor in one of the most hostile terrains! But let’s not divert their energy and attention by calling upon them for civil duties when police is unable to control attacks on Corona warriors or other such acts of disobedience by public in these most testing times for the country.

I pray to all Indians to keep aside their political ideologies, faith or any other divisive issue and stand behind our Government and our Army! For an internally strong and stable India will effectively rebuff the evil design of all the enemies, even if they choose to test its strength together!

Bharat Mata ki Jai! Long live Indian Army!

Bollywood is getting jinxed

One of the most talented of the younger lot of the Bollywood actors, Sushant Singh Rajput, who was already an A lister , aiming for the top spot in Bollywood, has committed suicide. 34 years old actor, whose last superhit film Chicchore won rave reviews and did a decent business in commercial terms.

Actually, in some senses he was following the footsteps of Shahrukh Khan. An actor who made the grade through TV, who can forget his performance on popular daily soap Pavitra Rishta that topped the TRP ratings for weeks and during the course of shooting which he met his longtime girlfriend Ankita Lokhande. Bollywood saw the talent in him and in no time he became the darling of the filmgoers, who lapped up his performance in movies like Kai Po Che, Shuddh Desi Romance, PK and Byomkesh Bakshi. He hit big time in his role of MS Dhoni in the eponymous movie that captured the life and time of India’s iconic cricketer. It was as if Sushant infused his heart and soul into the role immortalising Dhoni on silver screen.

Was it another case of a middle class Patna boy unable to take the name, fame and glamour of Bollywood in his stride? Or was it his failure in his personal relationships? A fortnight ago or so his ex secretary Disha Saliyan had committed suicide under mysterious circumstances!

Whatever be the cause, the outcome is premature death of another Bollywood star and a great future hope Sushant Singh Rajput is a great loss to Bollywood that’s yet to come out of the grief due to death of so many of its alumni – Irrfan, Rishi, Basu Chatterjee, Sajid, Yogesh, Chiranjivi ….. ! The current pandemic due to COVID only adds to the gloom!

RIP Sushant! This was the distance you were destined to traverse! I pray to God to give peace to this world, our country, our city and our Bollywood by eradicating COVID !

Start your day with good thoughts

How one starts one’s day is important as there’s an old saying in English “ Well Begun is half done”! I have been told to wake up by expressing gratitude to the God almighty, seeing your palms, doing a namaskar in the direction of sunrise etc. However, all of it is not always possible when your waking up is synchronised not with your good habits but by the doorbell rung in the morning by doodh wala and paper wala. You just rush out of your bed to open the door so that the person at the door is not repeating his act thereby causing disturbance to other sleeping family members!

Once you are up, one of the realities of modern day life, mobile phone, beckons you more than anything else. While one would have checked his last WhatsApp message and last mail at 11.30 PM, there are nocturnal creatures working round the clock who flood your inboxes with hordes of messages and mails all this when you are asleep. As a result, this act takes a precedence over all other suggested holy and hygienic acts!

I claim no superiority to an average mobile phone wired professional who’s under the wrong impression that those acts of night by nocturnal creatures, if not attended to the first day in the morning, could lead to the end of this world and therefore, check my mobile as the opening chore of my day, much before when even the thought of almighty divine comes to my mind! But I am lucky to be doing it with a difference! I start this process not by seeing the “important” office mails or “heavens are going to fall” WhatsApp messages first! In fact, I first go to the WhatsApp account of a group created by my friend where each day a deep but simply stated thought by Mahatria is posted every morning. His messages are not difficult Sanskrit quotes and mantras from our scriptures, but their essence expressed in crisp and easy to understand language that straight goes to your heart! Most of his thoughts are around two main themes of life as propagated by him – “Life is beautiful” and “ Celebration is life” and you suddenly have this feeling of positivity filling up your entire body and consciousness even in these tough times of COVID. When many of us are depressed at this new norm of working from home instead of office, his simple thought as quoted below rejuvenates you –

Happiii Morning.

“Life is Beautiful”

“Celebration is Life”

Expect more from yourself.

Align yourself to the highest work ethics.

Back it up with relentless intelligent effort.

Mahatria…

The above is very simple to understand and universal in its nature – align to work ethics and back it up with effort. Which religion or stream of thought will not propagate the need to work ethically and put on efforts. That’s the beauty of Mahatria and his messages.

Current COVID crisis has clearly outlined that perhaps more important than places of worship, god men, Palm readers , astrologers are nurses, doctors, cleaning staff, police and people like Mahatria, who give hope and show the path.

Multiple fronts

India is facing the heat on multiple fronts. While Corona is a worldwide pandemic and within the constraints, India is trying to do its best, its international boundaries are are facing challenges from aggressors all across. Our western neighbour that was very much part of us, and is since partition our bitter and sworn enemy, refuses to address internal problems of COVID, locusts and terrorism back home and continues to foster terrorism in Kashmir and tension on the border. Superpower China, know for flexing its muscle in the entire subcontinent, is trying to divert international attention from its misdeed of spreading Corona across the world, by trying to move inside the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and provoking Indian troops. The worst and the most unexpected is Nepal’s aggressive overtures by releasing a new map, claiming it’s right over certain territories under Indian control. Obviously, the leftist government in Nepal is acting under the directions of its Chines ally.

The above is not all. There has been a deadly gas leak in Vizag, number of earthquakes, devastating cyclones- first Umphan on the East and then Nisarga in the West coasts, incidents of fire, accidents (scores of migrant labourers returning home dying under most unfortunate circumstances), untimely rains and sleet destroying ready crops and the real threat of tiddy dal (locusts) attacking ready crops after its monstrous act in Pakistan.

When the nature and man decide to raise their ugly head together, how can a country cope up? Especially, when the economy is in the throes of deep deep recession, job losses at the highest ever and efforts to kick start economy severely hampered by Corona!

One option is to look skyward up to the Lord almighty and pray, an option we should never abandon anyway irrespective of the circumstances. One more option that’s in our hands and which we should exercise is to stand together, help each other and overcome all our mindsets of region and religion! A united India can overcome all the above and many more internal, external, natural and man made threats. The worst should bring out the best out of us! Worse can get worst – but there’s no limits of being the best! Even if we start by planting a small sapling on the occasion of the world environment day just gone by, we would be taking a step in that direction. Let’s donate – money, empathy, efforts, thoughts- and labourers will be back and so be communal harmony and the spirit of Indianness! And we shall see Corona, enemies and natural disasters going out of window!

Corona’s toll is rising

I am a music aficionado. In my young days, you could ask me about any Bollywood movie and I would tell you the lyricist, the music director and the singer. It started with Rafi- Shankar Jaikishan- O P Nayyar- S D Burman era and lasted till the end of Kishore Kumar- RD Burman era. There were brief flashes in the pan – Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Jatin Lalit, Nadeem Shravan , Anand Milind, Anu Malik era. But by the time highly talented Sonu Nigam made it to the top, riding on the ditties by Shankar Ehsaan Loy, AR Rahman and Pritam, I had almost lost interest in Bollywood music, instead choosing to go for retro music of 60s to 80s. Today, I can’t make out an Arijit from a Darshan Jariwala or an Amal Malik. Ditto female singers. After the golden period of Lata and Asha, there were periods of brilliance highlighted by the likes of Alka, Kavita, Anuradha and more recently Sunidhi and Shreya. But somehow I know longer get stimulated by Bollywood music.

In the above backdrop, I must confess that I have hardly heard or followed Sajid Wajid’s music, though I know they are sons of illustrations tabla exponent Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan and are highly talented. From some shows in which they appeared, I could also make out that they have very intimate knowledge of music and, in particular, Wajid sings quite well, in fact, as well as any playback singer of repute. Their repertoire includes blockbusters like Dabbang series, Partner, Ek Tha Tiger etc. It’s also a known fact that superstar Salman likes this music duo very much.

It’s most unfortunate that this highly talented and younger half of the duo, Wajid Khan, bid adieu to this world at an untimely age of 42 years, becoming another victim of this dastardly Coronavirus, though he reportedly had other health issues too. A powerhouse of talent with huge potential has been nipped in the bud.

These Corona times are distressing – people are getting killed during Corona times, many due to the viral infection. Oh god spare us the agony of Corona times and let Wajid’s young soul rest in peace!