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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Handful of Thought

Jagannath & elder brother & sister-Source Wiki
A Handful of Thought

A curious child may like to know why gods and goddesses have more than two hands. Are they not inconvenient, like the sixth finger of his friend in his neighbourhood? Could the all powerful Gods not arrange something more convenient for them? He may not feel as curious to question why Ravan the demon king of Srilanka should have ten heads, for with one head or ten, the poor demon is destined to be killed by Ram who has only one head. This perhaps intends to prove, once for all, that having one head is always better than ten. But then Gods are deathless and they are not to be killed. And unlike human beings they do not fight among themselves till one has not finally finished his opponent. Human contests may not end in draw but all the divine contests are so very harmless—just so-so, like our leg-pulling or nicknaming. To quote a line of the famous poet T S Eliot: Not with a bang but whimper. So the gods and goddesses are denied of the opportunity to end their plight with their death, whether it is natural one or otherwise.

So, if gods and goddesses are not to die and still have more than two hands, is it going to do them any good? Or is it to make their lives miserable? Even if inconvenient, it is certain that they have to live with their problem all eternity. Say like Vasuki Nag the serpent god holding the weight of the earth on his hood. A little easing or shaking on his part, it is sure to cause earthquake. So, living with four or more hands should be definitely painful. A child’s question is not to be rejected as silly; here he is not the father of nation alone; he is the father of divinedom. He only has the empathy to articulate the agony of divine entities: If not painful then what else is it?

Then the child is told stories from Panchatantra. In that treatise, birds and beasts talk among themselves, and they talk to human beings too. The child believes—or at least by that time has learnt how to suspend his disbelief—and starts enjoying the stories. Then a story comes [ मुर्ख कुविंद: कथा ] where a weaver gets option from the tree god to ask him for anything as boon. He runs to—yes, you are right—he runs his wife who prevails upon him to ask for two heads. The tree god grants him the boon. Now the boon-rich and double-headed weaver comes back but before he could reach home, people kill him mistaking him for a demon. Tut-tut! The poor weaver! Even a boon from god and advice from wife could not save him! So the child, after listening to the weaver’s catastrophe, revisits his old question: what would happen to gods and goddesses who have more than two hands? And to those who have more heads than one?

As an aside, let’s consider since when had these multi-headed god been existing in our religio-physical domain? Evidence suggests that such a multi-headed god existed in Rig Veda, say in Purush Sukta mantra. [सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात्। स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वा अत्यतिष्ठद्दशांगुलम्।।] This simply means: A thousand-headed Purusha, with a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet on every side pervading earth, he fills a space ten fingers wide.

There is one solace though. The gods and goddesses have hands that are in even numbers, say four, ten, twelve etc. but never in odd. Does anyone know of a god with either three or five or seven hands? Only Vaman, one of the ten avatars of lord Vishnu, had to bring into existence his third foot so that he could trample Bali the great giver. Let me quote from Jayadev’s Dashavatar:
छलयसि विक्रमणे बलिमद्भुतवामन .
पदनखनीरजनितजनपावन ..
केशव धृतवामनरूप जय जगदीश हरे ..
Translated: O Kesava (Vishnu) ! In the form of the Dwarf (Vamana) You cleverly deceived the King of the world, Bali. Cleanser of the people through the sweat of your toenails. Praise be to Jagadish! Lord of the universe !

Well, this was just an exception. Without very much dwelling on this exception, the child goes on to learn about symmetry or to say it more scientifically, diametrical symmetry.

Then again another question: We’ve gods with four hands and what about a god that has four legs? There’s nobody to answer that. Of course there are quadrupeds around gods and goddesses but they are their transports, not gods in themselves. Say for example, bull, mouse, lion and so on.

Since humans have only one head and as such they can do one thing at a time. That’s something good. Then the child finds the shopkeeper talking to somebody on phone while he takes money from the customer counting it coin by coin. There is no mistake; he cannot be short-changed by anybody. Then the child thinks shopkeepers have two heads—one seen and the other hidden.

Like those sixth fingers all extra limbs are not bad always. A certain film star in the past had groomed her special facial appeal through an extra row of teeth! Does anyone need to be reminded about who that film star of special facial appeal is? Has he then forgotten our dear old Mousumi Chatterjee of Bollywood? Aha! Now I’m reminded of a famous saying that I heard in Kerala: “Look, he’s born with an extra bone and the bone is in his tongue.” What do they really mean by that? The person with an extra bone in his tongue is stronger or what? Yes, he’s no doubt strong but it is so because his extra bone in tongue makes him a bit quarrelsome. Be warned. 

But there is one god, nay at least a set of two gods and one goddess that do not posses even the minimum of two hands each. Can one guess it? Yes, that’s right. They are Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and their younger sister Subhadra. And poor they! Each one has a couple of half hands. Have a darshan of the lord at Puri and like the difference. जगन्नाथ स्वामी नयन पथगामी भवतु में ।   

Now that handy gadgets are abounding, it is high time that we had more than two hands. Keeping a cell phone in pocket is said to be hazardous and one is advised to carry it in hand. Then if he or she is forgetful, he is advised to carry his key in hand. Well, one never knows about weather. And one should always carry an umbrella in hand. Then what about specs? Putting on specs all the while leaves an ugly mark on nose. Besides, it unnecessarily proclaims that a bespectacled fellow is an old fellow. So, one should carry his specs in hand. And for all these, one needs more than two hands. One hand is occupied by cell phone and the other by specs. Then he needs another for holding his car key. What about the vanity bag? A vanity bag cannot be a shoulder bag, never. And then what about the cigarette pack and the lighter? He should also carry umbrella and walking stick. Thus one needs four or more than four hands, say like lord Vishnu who has to carry conch, cutting wheel, mace and lotus. He needs to carry them as they are a must for his identity! No Aadhar Card for Vishnu.

The rules of evolution decided that human beings shed their tails that they used to have as primates. The giraffe got a neck that was long enough to reach trees and enable it to graze. So nature must be already on its job to arrange something like that so that humans get more than two hands to take care of their gadgets! If gods and goddesses so easily carry the load of four or more hands, then why not human beings? But one should wait for that because nobody can accelerate the process of evolution, at least not at this stage of scientific development!    
A. N. Nanda

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

The New Move

The Sea Under the Sky: Pondicherry

The New Move

This time
Beyond the freezing December
I wish we had a year to welcome…
The ladder to Heaven
Would be commissioned again,
But this time
Not through the pages of scriptures…
Aeons of grappling
Over a myriads of clues
Would come to an end, on a fine day,
The destination of mankind
Would finally be defined.
All the peoplegood or bad
Would join the queue, quite impatient…
The Blue Planet
Is an ordinary place,
It is the time
Everybody had joined
The exodus of special kind…
The celestial prowess
To quarantine the wicked
At the entry door of the Heaven,
Would prove barely adequate, 
Hence I hope
I stand a chance
To sneak through the crowd
And feel triumphant.
This time
Beyond the freezing December
I wish we had a year to welcome...
A. N. Nanda


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Translate Franslate

Translate Franslate
It was time I sourced some humour for myself. The other day I discovered an easy way to locate it. Really, one need not go any further than Google translate [] to enjoy humour. Try getting some text translated. Be informed: You’ve a few moments of hilarity ahead. You might even double up in laughter. And as for me, all I did was I just took a small sample text in Hindi and got Google Translate to translate into English. Here you go.

वर्षों पुरानी बात है । चिराग़ दिल्ली राजपत्रित प्रधान डाकघर को तब ख़ूब आमदनी होती थी । दिन में दो-दो बार रिज़र्व बैंक में रोकड़ जमा करने के बावजूद शाम तक ख़ज़ाने में ढेर सारे रुपये बच जाते थे । उन्हें गिनकर बड़े-बड़े लोहे के संदूक़ों में रखकर सभी घर चले जाते थे । फिर दूसरे दिन दस बजे उसमें से कुछ रोकड़ रिज़र्व बैंक को सौंप दी जाती थी । डाकघर में इतने रुपये जमा होते थे कि मानो आस-पड़ोस के लोग कुछ खाते-पीते नहीं थे; सारी-की-सारी कमाई डाकघर के बचत खाते में जमा कर देते थे !

Translated into English by Google translate, it became:

Years old thing. Keep the lamp at Delhi GPO income was gazetted. Day two - twice the Reserve Bank to deposit cash in the evening, lots of treasures were saved Rs. Counting them big - big iron Sndukhon were placing all go home. Then the next day at ten o'clock of that cash was handed over to the Reserve Bank. At the post office so that it had deposited the money around - some account of the people of the neighborhood - did not drink, the - the - the money would be deposited in the post office savings account!

Any humour? Okay, let me put it this way: All questions do not have answers, and likewise all text cannot be translated. Say for instance, how to translate the Mahabharat into English? I mean not the book as such but the two words ‘The Mahabharat’. Is it not the great India? So the Mahabharat is same as mera bharat mahan. ।। मेरा भारत महान ।। Another example from Oriya language. ବଡ଼ ମାଛ ତରକାରୀ will be ‘big mother six curry’. In effect it should have been big-fish curry. राजमा – if we translate it into English it would be kidney bean. It is a delicious, protein-rich item of vegetarian curry in north India. Well if kidney bean is translated into, let’s say Tamil, what will be the output of Google translate? சிறுநீரக பீன் is it correct? I don’t know if it is so; a Tamil reader can say it better.

There are occasions an absurd question just crosses my mind: If a ghost from Tamil Nadu meets another from UP, in which language will they communicate? Is there any facility of translation in ghostland, I mean in heaven, like we have Google translate here on earth?  

I’m reminded of something I heard long back that gives an illustration of the difficulty level of translation. In British days there used to be a policeman who had perfected his skill of translation. Once he had to report an incident of quarrel and fighting that took place at Dhenki. As to the meaning of the word ‘Dhenki’ [ढेंकी] I could not get any help from dictionary, so I’m going to post a picture of it.
Dhenki / ढेंकी 

Anyway, the policeman also got the similar question from his boss: By the way, what’s dhenki, sepoy? And the police constable replied:

Two men dhapad dhapad one man shanki...Is called Dhenki.
।। जब दो करते हैं धपड़- धपड़ और एक करती शंकि, कहलाते हैं उसे ढेंकी ।।   

The reply is rhythmic, isn’t it? But is it meaningful? What the policeman reported was that there were three persons engaged in operating the contraption called dhenki[ढेंकी]—two doing dhapad dhapad, meaning thereby, stepping on and releasing one end of dhenki which would work as a first class lever and the third person, usually a lady, would do the shanki, meaning, mixing and shuffling the paddy on the hole. [look at the lady in picture]

As I write this, I’m reminded of something closely connected to the context. It was about an incident that happened in my Intermediate class. There was some commotion in our class and the target of the disgruntled students was the English teacher named God-Son-Banner-Sir, I mean one Professor Dev Kumar Banerjee. [Dev=God; Kumar=Son; Baner=Banner; and jee=Sir]. He said, ‘If your forefathers gave you wealth, there’s nothing to feel great about it. The real satisfaction comes out of earning something by oneself.’ This he said in some context. Lo, the word ‘forefathers’ was received as ‘four fathers’. What did he mean by four fathers? And it was interpreted even more dangerously than that! This was taken to be the worst kind of rebuke as it alluded to one’s mother who had illicit relationship with four men so as to bring him four fathers. So, there was commotion. The poor old professor Mr God-Son-Banner-Sir had to apologise for saying forefathers.

English is a funny language wherein the foot smells while nose runs. Not the other way round, right? So we should be accurate, no matter in our search for accuracy we actually end up doing the opposite work. And there are far too many words in the dictionaries. A lady tries to take spoken English lesson seriously. Halfway through her course she starts practising her lessons with relish. A guest drops in on her. Seeing him at her door she is happy and she asks, ‘Would you like to see the map of my father?’ And the guest somehow succeeds suppressing his laughter and begins praising her drawing room, ‘Aha! So beautiful.’ Encouraged, the lady says blushingly, ‘You’ve seen my front and liked it. Even my husband likes my front. Now I’m going to open my back...and you’ll like it too.’ And she leads her guest to the kitchen garden in her backyard.

Two people were fighting. They started their fight in Hindi but as the pitch heated up, they chose English.

One: If you utter a word more, I’ll die you.
The other: What? You’ll die me? Before that I’ll suicide you.   
A N Nanda