Monthly Archives: August 2016

FROZEN WAVES.by SAMPATH KUMAR
It is a tantalising title for an absorbing novel.Just finished reading this and it was an experience which is hard for me to explain.This is a novel,which is part history of abundant treasure and many secrets buried for many centuries, and part fictional.Suddenly the interest erupts in three different groups of people for different reasons.All the three stories are told interestingly and independently but interlinked expertly in the end.The centre of action is the wilderness of Sundarbans,with its own mystery and suspense around it.There is lot of action,matching the best thrillers,mystery bordering on the supernatural,adventure and all the same lot of tenderness in approaching the issue.It is evident,Sampath Kumar has done lot of research in the course of his many travels.I am bowled by his knowledge about various international issues,apart from those in espionage,scientific details,and also those on geological surveys.I admit there are portions which I could not understand fully.His depth of knowledge ,so vast that I found myself deficient in the same.

   About the author,I would like to quote”a well known face in industry and academic circles and has held high positions in national trade bodies.

He is a renowned photographer,poet,painter and social worker and has earlier published two coffee table books “Darjeeling,the queen of the Hills.” and “Silhouettes of Sundarbans”. Kumar has travelled to Sundarbans several times and dreamt of portraying the tiger infested mangrove forests,weaving with it history and human struggle.”This is his debut novel,hard to believe but true since he has dealt with it with expertise.He was knighted by the Italian Government in 2006.

  For me he remains a multi talented,dear friend but very grounded and can put one at ease with his friendliness.One misgiving is I am still to meet him.

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Suicides and their repercussions.It is now going to be roughly two years since I entered the Facebook club.In the beginning I didn’t know what to write about.Mostly I wrote about the different phases of my life,in short ,my autobiography in instalments.Now I am expanding my horizon and comfort zone and of late started writing about issues,more social in nature and can be termed some ills affecting our society.One of them is suicide.May be with age I have developed a more objective analysis of things.

  There was a time when suicides were not so common.It was also more serious causes for one to even attempt it.There was an opinion that it was an escapist tendency to attempt it.Many serious causes were at work,like the loss of a spouse,untimely and unexpected and severe financial crises etc.There was not much sympathy with those who committed suicide.Gradually there has been a change in attitude,contributing to a wide research and counselling done at all levels.

   There are several reasons leading anyone to attempt it.With the societal and peer pressures at present,reasons are multiplying and at times very flimsy also.All of us have our ups and downs in life and in some cases more downs than ups.Sometime or other,when our stakes are down,a fleeting impulse to end our life has crossed our mind.It depends on the individual’s thinking ability to overcome that one minute of despondency and conquer it.It could be the family responsibility,the dependent parents or children or some ray of hope lying somewhere offering assistance.Many people feel suicide is coward’s act.I feel it needs lot of courage to attempt it and requires more courage to overcome that momentary emotion.At times it could be a pre planned one like the whole family succumbing to some pressure.Very often it is momentary.

  Recently we have been seeing little kids attempting suicide for flimsy reasons like parent or teacher scolding,failing in some exam or love.All these things could have been avoided with a little discussion with someone close or alert parents or sympathetic teachers.There were instances of cops committing suicides or attempting.These cops are trained to be sturdy enough to face all circumstances and conquer over their adversities.Everything boils down to a little thinking and also understanding of the persons around them.No life should be wasted.

   There are lot of counselling done for the depressed section. All of them are doing a fabulous job.Even if one person ,on the verge of doing anything drastic,starts thinking,it is a success for my article. Whatever be the reason,flimsy or strong,think hundred times.Think of your parents or anyone near to you,the innocent smile of a baby or of all the nice things you can enjoy,sports,some art or book or even a beautiful sight of a sea or a flower; You will start thinking and that is victory for you.

Independence Day and some sweet memories
    Today everyone is talking about Independence Day and my news feed is full of posts regarding this day.There are speeches,debates and the mandatory flag hoisting.I live in one of those smaller apartment complexes and today it is no different from other days.I am mostly home bound and as such have no knowledge of what is happening outside.However it was not always like this.
    We were in Delhi during post partition riots and Gandhiji’s assassination.I was too young at that time and can’t remember much other than the trauma of partition and what followed after that.In 1950 when India was declared a republic ,we were in Bombay and the memories are clearer.
   I remember on all Independence days and Republic Days,there would be compulsory attendance in school.It was S.I.E.S, in Matunga.At that time it was comparatively a smaller school.There was a maidan opposite the school where all drills and P.T. Classes would be held.All these important days were celebrated there.Bharati’s songs and other patriotic songs would be sung by students in the indoor auditorium.My special attraction would be the doodh pedas they would distribute after all that wait.Those were pre chocolate days,rather pre cadbury’s days.I still devour them.
    Things were vastly different.For many years these were considered national holidays.Shops and all offices were closed and nothing worked.People spent their holiday going out to movies or visiting friends and relatives.These were also pre Television days.I remember our father taking us to Hanging Gardens ,shoe house and other places nearby.Queen’s necklace,as Marine Drive was known then,really was worthy of all praises.All the important buildings were illuminated.Bombay was different then,still unpolluted and free of politicking leading to disruption of many things.
   Cut to the present,things have become difficult now.The priorities of lives have changed.Money is not an issue with many people.Except for a few,people have lost the ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.There is frustration and disillusionment about the things around us.All round corruption,senseless murders,parochialism apart from unhappy things like rape,caste discriminations to the point of killing someone,,scams of all types are surrounding us with no accountability. and no firm action.There are empty promises by many ,never to be fulfilled. We can say all these are global issues and happening everywhere.That is no answer.
.We do have the potential for becoming an important nation.Our hearts swell with pride when some achievement is made,whatever be the sphere.We have abundant talent waiting to be tapped.There is no dearth of natural bounties.What is lacking is a real leader like we had so many in the past with a clean image and a missionary zeal.

what we lack is motivation and sincerity.This freedom that we enjoy now is hard earned and let us resolve to make it special.

Organ Donation Day.
Today is organ donation day and for the past one week papers are trying their best to create more awareness about this.I have been wanting to write a post but was diffident that I am not erudite or knowledgeable enough to write on this.I read my friend Ejji K.Umamahesh’s post on this and felt that was a complete post giving all the details.I shared the post last night. Comparatively mine is just one more voice,as I always say,for a good cause.
Some years back I came across a news item that medical students and researchers are not getting enough cadavers for their anatomical dissections.I resolved to myself I would donate my body to medical research.I didn’t discuss this even with my close ones since they don’t relish discussions on such topics.At that time I was still not so aware of organ donations.The more I think now I am convinced that we should all donate our organs,whatever be our age and illnesses.I am very happy to see many youngsters are taking up this and also many families more receptive to the idea.There was a life when people were wary of taking life Insurance policies because they were not willing to think about any eventuality that may befall on them.Likewise people are wary of talking about organ donation.Now the scene is slowly changing and parents of many of the persons dying due to accidents or becoming brain dead due to some other illness,voluntarily offering the organs of their dear ones.Somebody else gets a vital organ and at times some three,four people get a new life.There is also a change in the general outlook and procedural delay is averted.We have seen green corridors created to facilitate easier transportation of organs from one place to another.All this is heartening.
Apart from cadaver organ donation,there are live donors,where a family member or close relative can donate their organ to the needy.There is a chance of misuse and illegal trade of organs as we saw in the case of a leading hospital in Bombay.There is the other danger of unscrupulous doctors declaring a patient brain dead a little too early for the purpose of harvesting the organs.Generally we trust our doctors and believe they would remain true to their profession.
There are patients like me having lifestyle diseases and on medication for a number of years running to decades even .It is my earnest wish that all my organs,whatever can be used,should be donated or given for medical research.I am in the dark as to how to go about it legally.I will take the help of my daughter,my doctor and whoever else is needed.Death would happen when it is destined and no need to be scared and need not be a taboo for discussion.
Appealing to everyone to give a thought to this noble cause.

Ejji K. Umamahesh.

Reliving Tagore.Poetry,Prose and Perceptions 

By Ruma Chakravarti
At the very outset,I am marvelling at the cover .Tagore,with his magnetic personality with his piercing eyes and the title.It could have been “Remembering Tagore” or anything to that effect.By naming it as “Reliving”,we are literally transported to that period when he lived and the milieu of the settings.There must have been lot of reviews about this book and very competent ones at that.I want to just write a few lines about the book and the author.I am a little wary to start with because Tagore is a revered figure in literary circles whose works have stood the test of time and live even after so many years and Ruma is known for her passion for translations.

I got married in Bengal and had numerous Bengali friends.As a result many of my gifts were Tagore and Sarat Chandra’s works translated and one was a bulky volume of Vishwa Bharati Quarterly.Therefore I was not new to Tagore.I have read many translations but Ruma’s work was different.

I admire her flow of language which shows her mastery over both languages.She has brought alive many stories and poems and this must really bring Tagore closer home to the generations of today and the future and also the non Bengali audience.She has rendered a great service and my deepest appreciations for that.

I also found that many of the stories were very familiar and I realised they have been adapted and made into films,either Hindi or Bengali.Some of these like Khudita Pashan or Uphaar (samapti),and I think “Geet Gatha chal” was based on Athithi.Some stories like Monihaara and Postman looked familiar also.What I liked is the fact is women are not shown submissive and were shown quite empowered even in those times.There is lot of illusion,magic reality and suspense.Some of these mysteries were so engrossing that I had to read them without breaks.

The poems are neatly interposed with stories and many left me enthralled in their beauty.

The last was a play about Dhritrashtra and the dialogue with Duryodan first and then with Gandhari.I would like to end this post with the words with which Gandhari blesses Draupadi.This was when Pandavas come to seek their blessings before leaving for vanvaas.Inwardly both were ashamed of what their sons did to Pandavas but filial love was strong and evident.
Embracing Draupadi,the Pandava queen:

My child,you seem as an uprooted golden vine

My eclipsed moon,just once

Raise your head,heed what I say:

The one that has vilified you will forever

Remain ill famed in this world;despised eternally

Your shame is shared by women worldwide,

The torrent of a good woman in the hands of a coward.

Go child,accompanying your husband,with unclouded face

Transform the forest into heaven;be happy in the midst of sorrow.

Daughter of mine,sharing your husband’s unbearable pain

Transform it into the glory of faith in fidelity.

Here in the palace,day and night,abound a thousand pleasures

There in the forest you will be alone,the sole source of

Every pleasure,all companionship,all the wealth,

All consolation,every shelter.

Respite from exhaustion,provider of peace and healing

The blessings of plenty in their days of hardship

The promise of a better dawn,shining beacon in the dark times

You will be alone receiving and giving all love and care,

Mother,wife and queen!

The sanctity of your pure spirit will prevail,proud and inviolate.

     This is an eloquent testimony to the power of his words and the efficiency of the translation.This was a monumental task and Ruma did it with credit.My deep admiration for you,Ruma.

Friendship Day.
I believe today is Friendship Day.It is only for the past few years that these specific days dedicated to some special people in our lives are celebrated.Mother,Father or friends,all these people play a great part in making our lives meaningful.They existed before also but now they have days exclusively meant for them.

I heard about this day only when Malaaika was growing up.She gave me some coloured wool and asked me to make friendship bands.It is another thing she was not satisfied with what I made since her mother could make them better.

As usual I go into a retrospective mode.We studied in a co -education school in Bombay.Still there was total segregation,we were allotted separate rows for sitting and games and P.T classes were held by separate teachers.As such there was no mingling and kept to our own gender friends.We used to attend Theosophical school every Saturday and here we had a chance to make friends with the opposite sex.All in a good and friendly way.I was reasonably good in singing and used to ape Lata Mangeshkar. In course of time I was becoming popular in my class and we had a period for extra curricular activities and there were singing competitions which I won most of the time.Apart from this I was an introvert and kept to myself.Perhaps I had an inferiority complex because of my complexion ,not fat at that time but not very attractive.I tried to make up for this by my singing capacity.It was quite sometime before I realised there are lot more to enjoy in life other than these external factors.The reason I am narrating all these is because I didn’t make any effort to make friends.There were few friends and I lost contact once I left Bombay and went to Calcutta.

The other reason for my aloofness might have been that my father’s quarters were always from the city proper and we never had much of a neighbourhood,both in Bombay and Calcutta.It was a totally different life for me.

In Calcutta I studied in girls colleges.There was considerable improvement in my outlook on life.I made some nice friends in college and was slowly coming out of my shell.My music helped me a lot and I knew how to make myself more presentable.My joining Calcutta university and subsequently my office exposed me to some good male friends.Calcutta was a place where ladies were treated with respect.There were some great friends there but sadly I am not in touch with any of them.

I got married to an outgoing,chatty person and we made some lasting friendships while in Delhi.I still maintain my friendship with them,forty years after he passed away.My husband’s friend circle was large.He would have liked Facebook,if he had survived.

Thus friends have always been there.Facebook has brought me some talented and good friends and I am having a great time with all of you.Happy Friendship Day to all of you.

Child Trafficking. This is a very painful subject to write on.As I am starting to write this,I am watching the news also.There is news of two children getting beaten by two heartless teachers in two different cities.We are wondering whether they have children of their own.It is cruel and we do have laws against corporal punishment in schools.

 

We had a very sheltered existence as children.We did go to school changing two local trains in Bombay.In school as well as at home we were not exposed to the rough side of things.It is not that the world was free from all the malice happening at that time.It was seen that such things were not discussed in our presence nor were we allowed to read about all these.Our house was in Byculla ,near the famous Kamatipura,the red light area of Bombay.If we commuted by tram,the house was nearer but we had to pass thru that area.Father’s strict orders were to come back only by local train or bus.This is just an example.
Sometime back one of my friends on Facebook Sachin Singh, had written a very moving piece about human trafficking.Young children,who go to school unescorted are kidnapped and sold.Slightly older ones leave home for flimsy reasons like parents or teachers scolding.There are other reasons like the false promise of a boy friend or the lure of the tinsel world.In all these cases unknowingly land themselves in wrong hands and wrong places.There are some N.G.Os who indulge in using this vulnerable children and teenagers for their nefarious practices.There are several others who are genuine ones who do their best to mitigate their plights and either restore them to their parents or rehabilitate them properly.Very often young children are mutilated and used for begging and the older ones for flesh trade.
We always knew there were various gangs indulging in these practices.What is distressing now is the involvement of a politician- police network.Recently this was in the news.It needs a combined effort from the public to identify the correct person or persons to be approached and seek help for these unfortunate kids and teenagers.Our world is already filled with news of murder,gang rape or bomb blasts.Certain things may be beyond our control but definitely this is something we may be of use.If we find a child or any minor needing help or in distress,or we find any suspicious character with them,we can inform the concerned authority .Help those who need help.
Any sex worker you may come across would have a sad past and very often they are forced into this profession.No one would do it voluntarily.It is only my fear that these minors who are kidnapped and sold would end up here.Just one more voice to prevent child trafficking.So many things were crisscrossing my mind when I started writing this post and now I don’t know whether I have written all that I wanted to.