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Monday, December 27

Saathi Mere !!

Jab kautoohal ki nidra me,
is jag ke swarnim swapan paash,
bandhan me mujhko baandh,
kisi anjaan desh le jaayenge.
saathi mere tab kya mujhko tum vapas lene aaoge?

swapno ki urwar bhoomi chhod,
jab main yatharth ke banjar se,
aalingan tera tod kisi,
girte ko uthaane jaoonga.
saathi mere tab kya mera tum haath bataane aaoge?

sheetal bayaar jab sawan ki,
tan man me aag lagaayegi,
dhaani choonar ko od dhara jab,
geet milan ke gaayegi.
saathi mere tab kya mujhko ker yaad vihval ho jaaoge?

Fir tod sabhi naate rishte
aur chod sabhi sangi saathi,
ek din jag ko taj ker main
sukh ki chir nidra so jaoonga.
saathi mere tab kya mujhko tum dekh nahi muskaoge?

Sunday, December 26

PVNR: In a new light

The heros are of two types. Some of them are born blessed while others are just pushed to the limit. It is hard to decide which side of the line did P V Narsimha Rao stand on and the generations to come can hardly care less. For them, he will be the architect of the era of economic reforms, the person largely responsible for the huge difference between my own 80's childhood and 90's adolescence when suddenly the waiting queue for telephones got shorter by years.

PVNR was the first prime minister whose times I remember in some detail. In fact, now that I look back, I realize that it was in 1991 only, shortly after the death of Rajiv Gandhi that I moved to Lucknow from a small place called Sardhana in west UP. Probably the huge difference in the 80's and 90's that I felt was largely due to this shift and not due to the economic reforms of PVNR but I clearly remember mugging up his full name to show off in front of others. I also remember that he was known to be a very learned man who knew some 11 languages and though he was not a very high profile man before that, he had people's good will in general.

The PVNR that left the post 5 years later and the one that left this world few days ago was just a mere shadow of that person. Life didn't treat him with a light hand towards the end but I don't think that would have come as a surprise to him. Some people called him the Chanakya of Indian Politics and though I'm not sure of the connotations but they were largely negative. But Chanakya never cared for the opinions of so called moralists. He did what he had to do because for him, his motherland was above everything else, even above his own principles if needed.

It is said that the first impression is the last impression. I think that is the first thing that you need to unlearn when you enter politics. The picture that the tenure of PVNR brings to mind is not of the times of reforms but of a time riddled with the scams of all kinds. As the head of the government, most of the blame went to him. People labelled him and his government as the most corrupt and unconstitutional government to ever hold the office in independent India. But is there something we need to read between the lines?

Why was it that suddenly so many scams started coming to light? Was it the increased rate of the scams? or was it the willingness on the part of PVNR to let them come to daylight? The Jain Hawala case was unique in blaming almost every politician whose name you could remember. Very few escaped its claws, not even in Congress, the ruling party. Why didn't PVNR just hushed up the case? After all CBI worked under him and I don't think a lot of MPs would have raised hue and cry over that.

As a friend once pointed out that may be he was aware that it is not possible for him to alone fight all this corruption in the ranks, so what better way but to bring it in open? Let everybody see the state of the system so that everybody feels the pinch to do something? In retrospect, we can say that if he tried to clean the system by doing this, he kinda failed. We are not much better even today. But then that is our failure, not his.

I am not sure why PVNR did what he did and now I have no chance of asking him also but the point of this post is just to recount that may be he was a much bigger hero than the history would ever judge him to be. May his soul rest in peace.

PS: Thanks are due to Arun and Shweta for making me think about PVNR in new light.

Friday, December 24

Sakhi

sakhi mori piya ke rang rangi !

aankhon me piya ke swapan bhare,
adhron per kampan mukhar dhare,
ranjit kapol hue lajja se,
jihva pe piya ka naam fire.

dhalka jaaye aanchal jheena,
shudh budh khoyee, sukh chain chhina,
na bhaye use bacpan ki sakhi,
bin piya lage ab jag soona.

Sakhi mori piya ke rang rangi !

kuch vesh kaho? kabhi mili nahi !
mridubhaashi hain? swar sune nahi !
na des pata, jaane na gali,
chad kaandhe chaar kahaar chali.

Bin sakhi mujhe kuch na bhaaye,
jhoole ke bina saawan jaaye,
sochoon to yahi ka jatan karoon,
mo pe bhi piya ka rang chaaye.

sakhi mori piya ke rang rangi !

[Those who know better, would probably notice that a long standing promise has been fulfilled today although it has not come out as I would have liked it to but if that could be controlled, world would have been a pretty banal place.]

[Incidently, there is something in the above poem that is quite indicative of the times it has been written in. Can u notice it? I also noticed it only after finishing it :) ]

Friday, December 17

Life at 23 !!

They say if you are not an idealist at 20, u have no heart and if you are still an idealist at 30, you have no head !! Now that leaves two possibilities for 25. Either you can be completely confused between being a idealist and a practical person or you might be well balanced with both the things in perfect balance.
Now if you apply the same logic to 23 (considering 20 and 25), you will know where I lie :). I am in between getting confused and being balanced which, I have no doubt, is an extremely confusing state of affairs to be in. A state of confusion about if you are in a state of confusion !!
Anyway, enough of confusion. The news is that tomorrow at 15:15, I will complete 22 years of walking on this earth (for the first year, I was not walking) and considering the kind of people that are inhibiting the earth along with me, I consider this to be an achievement :P. okay sorry !! I shouldn't be this mean :). In fact it is the people living with me who have made this life worth living. Thanks a lot to everybody whom I know or will come to know in this life. As Kevin Spacey very aptly said:

"I had always heard that your entire life flashes before your eyes before you die. First of all, that second isn't a second at all. It stretches on forever like an ocean of time. For me it was lying on my back at boyscout camp, watching falling stars. And yellow leaves from the maple trees that lined our street. Or my grandmother's hands and the way her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird.
I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it's hard to be mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, my heart fills up like a balloon about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold onto it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can't feel anything but gratitude for every moment of my entire life"

Wednesday, December 15

Ek se bhale do? II

Last week I was reading the women special edition of Outlook. One of the articles in that discussed the radical social choices that women are making today. So there are ladies asking their parents to stay with them even after marriage, choosing to live separately for the sake of job, living alone even though their parents are in the same city and many more. There is no doubt that each of these decisions takes a lot of courage on part of a woman but what is alarming is that most of them relate to one common theme namely breaking down of the old concept of family.
Some of the feminists argue and rightfully so that family has been the biggest source of oppression for Indian women and so it is natural that in the new age, the old concept of family breaks down. The question is however how does it affect our society?
One particular example is of single mothers. All over India, there is an increasing trend of single mothers and the reasons are various. The one that stands out is that it is seen as the ultimate proof that today's women is strong and can support not only herself but a whole family (since "house-husband" still remains a largely taboo thing, family means mother and child).
But in this whole story, the child gets ignored. Consider the typical situation. Mother will most probably be working, so the child remains alone at home in the day time, may be with maid or in day care center. In most of the cases, he will have no siblings. He is solely dependent on his mother for all the emotional support who is bound to have her own tensions and problems considering the kind of work-life these days. The biggest thing that family provides is a feeling of belonging and sense of security. Wouldn't a child devoid of these grow into a rather insecure person? Infact these are the reasons why single people are not encouraged (allowed?) to adopt children. (I know sometimes this cannot be avoided and situation is not always bad but doing this by choice is what I am talking about.)
I think choice to become single a parent should be granted only when the support of a larger family is available. Women are blessed with the ability of bringing new life to this world and I think they should put a little more thought before using that.
[My apologies to any current and future single moms reading this. I am in no way questioning your abilities to raise a child but I think it is a right of every child to have a "house full" (of) family and your decision to stay single should not infringe on that.]

Thursday, December 2

Ek se bhale do !!

Vardan Mathur posted this beautiful piece about adopting a child today.
This is something that has been on my mind recently. In fact there are two issues and I'll talk about both of them.
First issue is the same as discussed in the talk also. On my way to office, I daily pass a crossing where 2 small kids, barely 4-5 years old, brother and sister, perform some gymnastics and then ask for money from the people who have stopped there. Now as a matter of principle, I never give them any money because I believe that first, giving them money will only encourage this thing and the person behind the game will push even more children into begging (most of the times, there is some adult person involved) and second that giving money is the least and as I said above, may be the worst kind of help that u can provide. It provides you with a false sense of having done something without actually doing anything. So untill I do anything worthwhile, I donot want to live under the false pretence of having done something. The question that always bothered me was, what?
The second issue is about the rising trend of single child. Now in my opinion and as I read some of comments on another blog, being a lonely child is not the best thing in the world to happen to a child. What siblings provide, friends do not compensate for in most of the cases. In fact as the families grow smaller, so many relationships that we enjoyed are lost. I have an elder sister and still I worry that my children will have no Chacha ji or Tau ji or my sister's children will have no Mausi. And looking at all the fun and all the love that I get from all my relations, I am sad that our next generation is going to miss that.
And now look again at the article in the beginning of the post. Isn't that a very beautiful solution for both the problems !! and I think it is very balanced. A decision to have no child of their own at all is a tough one and not all the couples can sustain that. And having more children is obviously bad for our country. Moreover it can also solve the problem of those couples who wanted a girl and instead got a boy or vice versa. They can just go and adopt one that makes their family more complete.
Of course there are pitfalls here too. It can prove to be a tricky affair to treat both the children as same and check urself from either being over indulgent or partial to one of them. Moreover, later on in life, there might be problems when the adopted child might want to find out his/her own identity. But as they say, love can overcome everything.
The mere thought of this thing is so beautiful that it fills me with pleasure now even though any of this is still in distant future for me. I think this is going to be the path for me but as Vardan says, 50% decision is yet to be taken :). In any case, I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am sure it will be the day light !!