The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Prototyping a Dharmometer

Sometimes I believe talking about god, mythologies, pilgrimage, Indian culture is easy, for one can talk in any way he is capable of and still find no dearth of listeners. It is at the same time risky too. One should not unwittingly tread a path that is seemingly offensive. I have taken special care not to sound critical. Humorous--oh yes, humour is after all the creation of god like the feeling of devotion. I just thought I can adopt the tone for this post.
Holy n Heavenly
All of us know that the function of a thermometer is to indicate the temperature of human body. So why can’t we invent another instrument called Dharmometer to measure the critical level of dharma to ascertain one’s need for a pilgrimage? Nowadays people crowd before gods just like that; bigger the crowd before a particular god more is His reputation. Isn’t it? A question just crops up: Does a big crowd gather before a god because He is famous or, conversely, does a big reputation accrue to a god because a big crowd gathers in front of Him? In this world of social networking, celebrities reinforce their celebrity-status by building up a follower base. But then how can we say that gods are like humans, working overtime to build up their following? Do they have to tweet snippets of blessing/prediction/assurance to their followers day in, day out? Be that as it may, the way crowd gathers before gods for a darshan proves that we badly need to restrict the inflow of pilgrims by using some out-of-the-box solution. Here nothing would be as effective as this wonder instrument called Dharmometer. In fact, we can control the crowd using this instrument even before it builds up. The idea is so very simple. The security officials, instead of frisking the devotees when they approach the place of pilgrimage, would only measure the level of dharma in one’s person. If they find the level critically low, they must allow him or her to go ahead and undertake pilgrimage to replenish it or else show him the return way. The security officials should be copiously trained and legitimately empowered to test that. It is high time we invented the machine. Necessity is the mother of all inventions—now or never. Because we have not invented this wonder instrument of Dharmometer so far, nowadays, irrespective of the need of dharma, any Tom, Dick and Harry head for the pilgrimage. Result: many of them just lose their lives in stampede. [Aha! You’ve guessed it right! I’m not one among those devotees that got injured (died ?) in a stampede in Tirupati last Saturday.]

Gold, God and Greatness
Writing something like this, don’t I sound mighty sanctimonious after I myself paid a visit to Tirupati last Saturday? I am sure a Dharmometer test would have disqualified me. Yet in this pre-Dharmometer era, I could pay a visit to Tirupati…and I’m happy about that. I saw a crowd that was nothing if not maddening. The steel barricades for enforcing queue-discipline had not dampened the enthusiasm of the devotees. Quitting their beds at those ungodly hours, those bleary-eyed devotees were standing in the queue and stealthily passing their filthy wind. They were not to blame for that, for sleeping little ever meant digesting less. Even the so-called VIP devotees who had purchased this favour of being a VIP by paying 500 rupees were also in thousands, each trying to prove their un-VIP status more funnily than the other, shoving, pushing, nudging and squirming as they lingered on in the serpentine queue. Many of us had come there without any real need to be there. Had there been a Dharmometere we would have failed in the dharma test very much like non-serious sports persons failing in their dope tests.

Lord Venkatesawar, the presiding deity of Tirumala hills, is struggling since time immemorial to repay his own loan that he took from the god of wealth, Kuber. Devotees help him to repay by offering money in his Hundi. Still the lord is indebted to Kuber, even to this day. There is a glass-enclosed verandah, just behind the sanctum sanctorum, where so many priests are busy in counting cash day in, day out. There is endless wealth, poor and rich alike pay the lord.

People believe that by paying the lord one becomes rich whereas I believe that by praying god one could be rich, not by paying him. But where was the time to pray before him? Despite my status of being a VIP [Rs 500/=], I had only 5 second of darshan. I had not gone mugging up a prayer to chant before him in 5 seconds, so I could not pray to become rich. So the only way left was to pay the lord and become rich. Did I actually end up paying Him? I would not disclose that much of personal dealing with my lord; even my poetic licence would not allow me to do that!

Serene n Striking
Truth be told, I could not see the lord with an observant eye of a writer. My mental image of Him continues to be the same two-dimensional calendar picture that I have seen of him in n number of places. Lord Balaji is everywhere--even on the windscreen of a car. That day I was just pushed and pulled and shoved and driven away from god by those mighty crowd controllers inside the sanctum sanctorum. I felt hurt, insulted, but there was nobody to blame. I calculated if I had got my share of darshan or not. Yes, I got 5 seconds whereas my share was just 2.88 seconds. Would you like me to work that out arithmetically? Well, here goes the calculation. A day has 24 hours X 3600 seconds = 86,400 seconds. There were at least 30 thousand people waiting to get darshan of the lord. So, my share of darshan should be 86, 400 / 30,000 = 2.88 seconds. Against this I managed to get 5 seconds of darshan. Didn’t I get more than my share? So I decided not to sulk, for sulking was too childish.

Oh yes, while returning I met a person in the train who was returning from his pilgrimage of Tirumala hills like me but many times happier than me because he did a super VVVVIP darshan at 2 AM at night. An ungodly hour? Forget these English phrases—they are quite irreligious in their connotations!! What did the fellow actually do to be a bigger VVIP then me? He is a property dealer in Coimbatore with a smiling wife and two sleepy sons and then what is unknown to a property dealer these days? So he did the booking six months in advance, paid a fee of 1000 rupees to avail himself of that wonderfully exclusive privilege. He was happily recounting that only 300-400 people were allowed and he had a crowdless view of the lord between 2 AM and 4 AM of Saturday. Well, early bird catches the worm, and it should always be true.       
A N Nanda

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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Canopy

About "In Harness" a critique by a talented reader, Dr. Soubhagya Pathy, Avanti, E-49/1386, Phase.II Bhimatangi, Bhubaneswar-751002, Tel.+91 674 2590212/2592895 E, had the following words to say:  

Nanda is a poet of the body; and an explorer of the labyrinths of the minds, the devious delving and twisting of the ego, and the ceaseless attempt of man and poet to define himself, to find through all the myth and maze a way to honesty and love. The poet sounds impulsive, intuitive, contemplative and gratified. His poems are a healthy release of his choked passions. His compositions show him being inspired from within, avoiding the inanity and stuffedness. Nanda’s poetry is not all inspiration; it is also a difficult craft, mastered with trying and painstaking efforts. His poems are written with metrical accuracy and hunting rhythms, displaying a fine structural unity and organization.

The link for the above review of Dr Pathy is available here. Today as I reread these words I feel nostalgic. I fail to gauge how far have I drifted from my muse. Aha! The good ol'days of words rhyming in me.

The Canopy
The Heaven isn’t going to fall
For Heaven’s sake, we all are under a concrete roof
safe and secured.
Our heads are well protected
under a hat, made to order
for a price little more than affordable.
Heaven is so near; we could’ve hardly believed it
It’s just above our head
We can touch it, atop a low wooden scaffold.
Why should we live as the celestial bodies?
We’re special; we’re superior; we’re prone to pollutions;
Hence a separate pigeonhole for everybody.
A visual break is a must
Life is void; it comes out of void; it goes back to void--
These are all trash, at least difficult to comprehend
Life is all that happens under the flat concrete
suspended firmly in the reachable space.
We have to limit our dreams
In dream even we can’t go to dizzy heights
We fear-- a fall is a finish
We need to live under a concrete ceiling.