Monday, November 13, 2006

Me,Sanskrit and Mr. Smith.

It was a typical Mumbai day. Humid and strenuous. As I boarded my usual train, I was tired and hungry, the nastiest of physical conditions. I had almost nodded off to sleep, whilst sitting, an art which has been perfected by the millions who travel by train on a daily basis, when a foreigner with an Indian friend came and sat in the opposite berth. I cringed when I noticed that he was given more space than a first class traveler of Indian origin is ever allowed by his neighbours on the seat. Let’s just call it the “Uncle Sam Effect”. I realized he was an American, and so must have the whole compartment, as his hyperactive Indian friend used the word “Dollars” at least 25 times in a minute, while the poor foreigner just maintained a tired smile all along! To the relief of everyone in a 2 meter radius of the foreigner (and maybe, him included!), our noisy Indian got off soon. I bet that had the Yankee grinning from ear to ear, flashing his million dollar smile! Life was about to get back to normal, when I suddenly noticed that he was not your archetypal American. He wore a khaki shirt, and had a copy of “Sanskrit simplified” in his hand. This roused my curiosity, and he must have noticed it, as he responded to my inquisitive glances with a “Namaste”! The first thought that came across my mind was that he was a tourist trying to act cool and in sync with the Indian culture to allure Indian women! I replied to his courteous parlance and started making small talk. Five minutes had gone by, when I mockingly mentioned that Sanskrit was no longer spoken or used in India anymore. To which he replied, “I know my friend, and I hope to change that.” Observing the bewildered look on my face, he smiled and went on to explain that he was Dr. Raymond Smith, a Doctorate in Sanskrit. My jaw dropped, comically so, as Mr. Smith let out a chuckle. I could insinuate that he was used to such astonished reactions. While I took a minute to gather my thoughts, he sat there, calm and serene. What followed was a question- answer type of conversation my mother used to have with me on the day of my results. My first question to him was how he managed to get a doctorate in Sanskrit, to which he highlighted the fact that we were in the internet age and while surfing the web, he had come across the language and was enthralled by it. Thus began his tryst with the language, which developed into a never ending love affair! I nodded; unable to comprehend what he felt was so interesting about Sanskrit. Why, my knowledge, like most Indians, I concluded, was limited to the odd shloks we muttered without knowing their significance at festivals or while praying. He agreed, and deemed it sad as it was a beautiful language rich in knowledge and literature. He had taken it upon himself to attempt and change that. So, he made sure that Sanskrit seminars were held in many cities, where awareness was created and faculty set up to start lectures. He had personally visited cities like Jaipur, Ahemedabad and Chennai, and his Sanskrit classes were established there! While a part of my mind was amazed at his exploits, the other stupid part went into negative overdrive. It became all to clear to me that this was a money making exercise, with Indians to blame. They would send their children to any Institution if it had a foreign connection. Suspecting my notion, almost intuitively, Mr. Smith gave me the prospectus. Skimming through it skeptically, I nearly fell of my seat, a phenomenon which was unheard off, in first class at least! His Center’s fee structure could be described as nominal, at best! It was not everyday that my jaw dropped twice in 15 minutes in front of a foreigner, and so it was embarrassing! His face curled up to a reassuring smile. He told me that he was, by now, used to the skepticism and suspect. He was an American after all, and had no business teaching Indian children, and even adults the values of Sanskrit! This left him undeterred, he said, and he was able to convince people that he was in it for a good cause, and that was spreading Sanskrit through India. He had been aghast to notice that Sanskrit was a dying language, even in India. One could learn French, Russian and Latin quite easily and there were thousands of institutes offering such courses. Sanskrit teaching institutes were rare, rarer still was proper guidance in them, and the ones which were any good were steeply priced. Our government too, was not too keen on spreading the practice of Sanskrit, with only a few states including it in their curriculum. He remarked that this was because of the huge cultural diversity in our land. His job was to romanticize Sanskrit and create a fan following. At this point, my contributions to the dialogue were limited to grunts and nods! He went on and on, until it was time for me to get down at my station. After exchanging phone numbers quickly, I thanked him and told him I appreciated what he was trying to achieve, but there was a question burning in my heart. He smiled knowingly, and inquired as to what it was. My obvious question was why did he love the language so much? What made him such an ardent fan of this mystical language? He replied with a wink and a grin,” Come, find out!”
I had to admit that I was impressed by the actions of the tourist and ashamed at my behavior toward Sanskrit. I decided to at least give it a shot. Have you?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

some quotes i came up wid..




an open letter to terrorists

An open letter to whomsoever claiming “RESPONSIBILITY” for 11/07 serial bomb blasts.

Respected sirs,
I say “RESPECTED”, as by now, among your cowardly herd of spineless murderers, you must be just that.
I say sirs, as I sincerely believe that no woman, whichever “CASTE”, creed or religion she belongs to, can ever commit as heinous an act as the one you have committed.
Everywhere, on news channels, papers, in the minds of the intelligencia, is the one obvious question. Who was behind the blasts? But to me, the more pertinent question is, what was the motive behind the blasts? To cripple the middle class, the worker bees of the Mumbai economy? To show the world how powerful you are? Try and create communal disharmony? Vendetta? Instill fear? Well, sirs, let me tell you, and I assure you, in no uncertain terms that you have failed miserably. Mumbai’s indomitable spirit won. AGAIN. We may be among the rudest, most pollutive and dirtiest cities this side of the Milky Way, but when it comes to helping out at disasters, be it floods or bombs planted by chicken livered criminals, we come together, as a team, as a family, and help out. Blood donors, medical agencies, common public, EVERYBODY is out there, fighting against your mindless and utterly pusillanimous act. The last time checked, the sensex wasn’t doing badly either.
There are Hindus, and there are Moslems. And then there are Mumbaikars. We have learnt our lessons well. And we are absolutely fine, thank you. This dim-witted episode shall only get us closer.
Coming to Vendetta, what could you have possibly achieved by killing and injuring innocent people? I agree with you if you say that innocent people on your side have been slaughtered too. That was wrong too. But does it give you the license to ruin the lives of people who had nothing to do with it? Sirs, Bombs don’t have eyes, they can’t see religion, and they just kill. I would also suggest to you, that if you want to boast of your prowess, come out in the open and fight like men. Without a shadow of doubt, after men women n eunuchs, comes your gender. The one without feelings for other humans. The one with just violence in their minds. The one which just cannot survive in a non violent atmosphere.

So I come to the conclusion that although you have botched disastrously in all your “OBJECTIVES”, you have succeeded in achieving a few things. You have brought us closer, made us stronger. And yes, sadly, but most importantly, you have ended the lives of innocent human beings. . People who died in those blasts, who lost their physical faculties, were human beings first. Humans like you. Like all of us. They had families. Children . Parents. Ambitions. You have succeeded in making their lives a living hell.

I would further request you NOT to play the religious war card here, as it seems way too stale at this point of time. What you have done is wrong. Unpardonable . It is my solemn prayer to god, in whatsoever form you believe him in, that you rot to death.
God did not make any religion. People did. You did. We did. Is the preeminence of our religions of such importance that people are butchered for it? I would request you to ask yourselves one question. Do you think what you did was right? You may be uneducated, Illiterate, and intellectually challenged. Is the basic difference of right or wrong lost on you? Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Your acts are shaming your whole community. We understand the plight of those poor souls, who are as innocent as the ones who died, and I would urge INDIANS not to stoop to their level.
Finally, respected sirs, with tears in my eyes and fire in my belly, I beseech you, DONOT DO THIS. I have nothing against you. I am just a boy who has lost friends, family, and loved ones.. I am but, a human being..

Thanking you,

Yours truly,

Kartikeya Dwivedi.

one for the road!!

One can garner the importance of a locality by keenly observing the number of traffic jams that occur there per day! We have our Andheri’s and Bandra’s, but a relatively new place takes the cake. vasai. Yes, the small town in the suburbs, where there is no water, electricity or intelligent form of life, remember? By god, vasai is fast becoming a very popular traffic destination.
Although, the provision of drinking water, proper infrastructure and great standard of living offered at vasai has paved way for an alarming rise in the resident populace, one cannot just blame this very fact for traffic mismanagement. Pot- hole ridden roads, constant digging, and shoddy traffic police work do not help the cause either.
It is fun, at times, to call your fuehrer (read Boss!) and complain about the jam you’re in and how terrible you feel about the delay! But when it happens all too regularly, like in the case of yours truly, you either get fired or end up waking at 5 am to get to work on time! When I had shifted to vasai, I was delighted to see such a calm and quiet place, with greenery all around, and facilities available readily, contrary to popular belief. It made sense too, as I had joined an organization based here. I was doubly delighted as I would be getting rid of train travel, on which too, I have many an interesting story to tell! However, the hassles have amounted up to being the same. At least while traveling by train, one doesn’t have to deal with yelling drivers, horn crazy ladies, abusive hawaldars and the predicament of trying to climb up a slope with no brakes and a dysfunctional horn!
Something has to be done, quickly. Vasai is a planned city, but the roads need to be drastically improved. For the life in me, I am not able to comprehend as to why a single stretch of road has to be dug up 28 times? I am contemplating if a Guinness in on the cards? If thought out and planned efficiently, the problem can be resolved in a lesser number of attempts. Maybe even by digging up just once! The pot holes need to be filled, period. Concretizing is an option, but one can only wonder the evils that lurk in the governing bodies, and safely say that it is a long shot. Therefore, pot holes should be filled as soon as they are created. Roads need to widened, and the ones that have been widened, should be cleared of all the illegal parking.
I would also like to add that even if the roads are widened till as far as the eye can see, people have to follow traffic rules, abide by them, and respect other people’s rights too! It’s not too difficult. One just has to imagine that he/she is driving on foreign soil!
Steps are being taken, no doubt, but they aren’t in sync with the rise in 2- 3- 4 wheeler commuting, largely thanks to The pulsar’s and karizma’s, who have taken to the roads like fish to water! We have to pay attention right now, before the situation gets out of hand, and we face a crisis, often encountered in Mumbai.
Having faith in the government, I sincerely hope that a quick and permanent solution shall be found to the ever increasing traffic conundrum.