Showing posts with label Public Sphere. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Public Sphere. Show all posts

Monday, April 17, 2017

Our Own Knight Bus

I have a sneaky suspicion. The Knight Bus... You know about it, right? The Knight Bus from Harry Potter. It is driven madly, making the wizards traveling by it fly around inside the bus or cling on to whatever for their dear life.

  • Hey, that's what Chennai autos do too! They swing you around and you cling to whatever you can to save your skin! If you protest, they go so slow that you wish you could ask them to speed up. But you don't because you don't know how fast is fast!

When the bus speeds and is hindered by two muggle vehicles ahead of it, does the driver slow down or put the breaks? No! He just squeezes in the space available.

  • But that's what happens to the auto too. In a physics-defying moment, an auto is able to squeeze in tight spots and come out unscathed!
It turns corners at the same speed and yet remains on its four wheels!

  • Bingo! You read it right. That sounds exactly like our auto, right? Nothing called - slow, wait and then turn - for the autos. They just turn and keep moving even as the vehicles coming straight down fly out of their paths!!!
The Knight Bus does not meet with any accidents!

  • I am glad I can say that about the autos too. Despite the crazy speed and the 'never-say-slow' attitude, the Chennai autos continue unscathed, getting on with its job of reaching you to your destination, not necessarily in one piece.
The stranded wizard just has to wave his wand and, presto! the Knight Bus will materialise.

  • You can wave your hand, you can press the right buttons in you Ola App, but no, unless your destination is right, the auto can leave you high and dry.
There is no payment, or maybe some standard payment. I don't remember.

  • It depends on the driver. For the joy ride and the near death experience, he will charge you some per cent over the meter, which is already tampered with. So hold on to your life and part with the currency...
Though there are these points of dissimilarities, I have a sneaky suspicion that the Knight Bus was inspired by our very own Chennai autos.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Mark of a Noble Man

The novel, 'Kadal Pura'. Author Sandilyan. Scene: The beautiful, golden-hued woman takes bath in the sea and finds a secluded corner to dry herself. The upper garment slips. She turns to find the hero handing her the cloth, his face turned away from her in modesty.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Democracy Hijacked

By, of, for the people, they said
But the people's protest went unheard
They played the numbers game
And the calculations were not the same
Between devil and the deep sea
Sold easily, and that too cheap!

Betrayed, and not even by someone trusted
Held for ransom, the entire state protested
Rules and laws too turned traitors
Making the turncoats legislators
The hated gang seems to be smiling
Despite their well laid plans failing

Rival families must be celebrating
While pretenses they are good at keeping
What, oh, of the man on the street
Wailing today for his own misdeeds!
What you sow, you reap
Hope you see the lesson it has to teach.

Democracy hijacked by kings and princes
Even nephews and niece get to eat the pieces
What shape will this drama take?
How will this unravel, what is at stake?
From chaos emerges clarity, they say
Will the dark nights bring a brighter day?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Social Medi-ot

Morning, in the midst of the whirl
A message pops with a tone of twirl
I pause my work and to the phone I rush,
Fearing something exciting I will miss

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Innocent, Who?

I was taking my customary evening walk a bit late in my apartment complex when a bunch of children came running my way. They were 8 years and younger, boys and girls, prancing around the complex in a carefree manner. My own children were upstairs, their curfew time starting earlier than that of these children.

One of the girls suddenly chimed, "Aunty, your son threw stones at us."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Meant to be Broken…

The recent tweet by Hema Malini has many of her readers shocked. She blamed the father of the child for his daughter’s death in the accident she was involved in. Seriously guys, you are shocked? Isn’t this par course?  The road is the jungle and your survival depends on your deftness and luck for that day. Why blame somebody, anybody, for the accidents that happen?

After all, might is right and it is the survival of the fittest. It is a jungle raj on every road in India, and blame cannot be lightly placed on one party. It could be one who is speeding, or another, who breaks a rule and pays mercilessly for it.

We see it day in and day out, this mindlessness. A few months ago, I was driving down a fairly free road at a comfortable pace. I saw a car hurtling down the road – from a spec in my rearview mirror, it filled it in no time. It was to my left, I was slightly towards the middle of the left. I kept an eye on my mirror as I switched the left indicator on. The car continued to hurtle unaffected by my indication. The turning neared and yet the car showed no signs of slowing. I paused, startled, for now the man had covered the distance without slowing even once. Only near the turning, the car slowed for the briefest of seconds. It hadn’t stopped and if I turned, we would crash without doubt. No such considerations deterred the man behind the wheel.  He crossed me from left. If he had turned left, I would still have been assuaged. But he took a right, right in front of me! If I had been hit and killed, even then it wouldn’t have made news because both of us – that driver and I – are ordinary people leading ordinary lives driving ordinary cars. Considering I escaped unscathed due to some surprising presence of mind, I can only say as the potential victim, I carried out my responsibility of being cautious. Any harm would have been my responsibility, right?

A friend, for instance, saw green (signal, dumbo, not money) and started crossing when a speeding van jumped signals. Her leg was nearly severed (nearly, not actually, severed) and she was in bed for six months. Sheer madness to think green is meant for crossing the junction. It should always be amber in your head, whatever the signal in the signal post.

Take another evening last week;  a sterling example of my negligent behavior.

I parked my two wheeler – a 2001 Scooty Pep, even more ordinary than my car – to the left of the road; looked to the left (traffic was not moving on the other side of the road), then right to look out for traffic – which was nil; and stepped out on the road. Now, you may say, ‘Wonderful, girl, just the way to cross!’ I stepped on the road, thinking only of what I have to purchase when something heavy banged against my leg. Two men on a bike on my side of the road, coming on the wrong side drove straight into me, the bulk of the metal hitting my left leg. They were slow, what a blessing, or else I would be in the hospital too. But I am no lean, negligible person. Even at night, couldn’t he see me on a well-lit street?

Now, tell me, who is at fault? Me, of course! I should have known that people will come from any side – right side, wrong side, upside, downside (we see it in action movies)…. It is my responsibility to keep my person safe! If I don’t, then how can I blame others if I get hurt?

Having said that, the reverse, unfortunately, is also true. If a Mercedes sees green light and takes off and a bike or an auto or a smaller car decides to ignore the red and cuts perpendicularly, can the Mercedes be blamed for the accident? If a biker chooses to suddenly jump lanes and is knocked down by a bigger vehicle coming in the correct lane, won’t the car get blamed for the accident? If a tempo suddenly shoots out of a side lane on to the main road, and an oncoming lorry crushes it, whose fault is it?

When it is a matter of life, it does not matter who takes the blame. Big or small, vehicles carry people. We seem to value life cheap – even our own. The new rule is – drive like a king and destroy anything that comes on the way; or get destroyed.

I have learnt to use the beautiful alapadma mudra even better than in dance. When in doubt while driving, just use this mudra and have the question, ‘What?’ on your face. It will confuse victims, potential or otherwise. And you can leave convinced you are not to blame.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Modern Goat

It was a narrow road. Shops on one side, houses on the other, and just enough space for two cars to cross each other from opposite sides.

An auto was parked next to the shop, by the side.

There came a car, a sedan, driven by a chauffer, with a lady inside.

He parked outside the shop, next to the auto, on the road. He went in, leaving the car with the lady inside.

He bought a few things, but forgot a few others. He came out and asked the lady what else she needed. She told him her grocery list. He went back in to do her bidding. So what if the road was narrow and one side of the road completely blocked?

"There is an auto parked by the shop, that's why my driver had to park on the road," she reasoned.

"Oho, poor thing! Do you realise you can park ahead, on a side?" asked one bystander.

"Mind your business," said the lady.

The driver, coming out, his hands full of things, glared. "There is enough road on the side for your bike to pass," he pointed out.

And the charioteer drove his queen away, unmindful of the disturbance he caused. This reminded me of the Panchatantra tale of two goats crossing a bridge and dying because they wouldn't give the other way.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Find Your Own God

Violence in the name of god, stories interpreted, reinterpreted, misinterpreted... Is this the purpose of
religion, of seeking god, of reading the scriptures?

I want to quote these lines from Vasishtha's Yoga:
"Not by the study of scriptures, nor by hearing the instructions of a preceptor, nor by charity nor even by the worship of god is the direct realisation of the supreme truth realised. Because that is beyond all these. However, I shall tell you how these, though not the actual means, have come to be regarded as the means to self-realisation. By the practice of the precepts of the scriptures, the mind becomes pure and transparent; then, without even wishing for it, one sees the supreme truth."

The other means are mere stepping stones, like the bath water, to be used to clean oneself and then discarded. If as individuals, we keep wallowing in the water, the result is what we see in our society - violence in various degrees. If the scripture does not make us feel pure, then it is not the right kind of water. It is already sullied. But if it does, for you, as an individual, then it has served its purpose. Never mind it did not work for some one else.

Even two siblings do not behave the same way, like the same things, take the same path. Then why should it be true of people from disparate backgrounds? Why cannot two people hold different views and yet find their truths? If it applies for religious fanatics, with due respect to intellectuals, it applies to you too. If a woman finds a stone divine, so be it. The problem is not that she finds the stone divine, but that she tries to beat you with it, forcing you to bow to it.

And when you do not like that stone that is divine to her, and try to turn it into mud, then, well... Aren't you doing exactly what she tried to do to you, though in a different way?

Utopia, I sigh, living and letting live. But if we dream enough, if we focus on our personal development, of connecting to the divine within without worrying about who else is following the same path, maybe we will stop killing each other, doubting each other and there will be more peace.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Make a Difference

In the 1990s, hearing of the work done by a charitable organisation promoting computer education in village schools in one of the districts of Tamil Nadu, a European lady desired to see the place. A teacher herself, she sat with the girls during the class and could not but help notice the cramped seating arrangement.

After the class was over, the lady met the principal and asked him how he would spend the donation she made. He told her that he wanted computers for his school.

"What you need is more space for the girls," the lady told him and contributed the amount needed to provide more classrooms and benches for the girls.

A few years later, when meeting another school principal, she saw smoke billowing outside. She was told that food was being cooked for the children under 6 in the two anganwadis nearby. She went to investigate and found that the smoke was due to the firewood. Aware of the need for clean atmosphere for children to grow and develop in, she insisted that proper kitchen with gas stoves be arranged and donated the amount needed to make two kitchens.

The elderly gentleman who had represented the organisation and coordinated these efforts recalled these incidents when I met him recently. But even as he spoke, I was amazed at the lady's interest and insight. She probably made the same contribution she had intended initially, even more probably. But it is the thoughtfulness and the courage to express it which was thought-provoking. If each of us were to take greater care in our efforts to contributing to the society and follow up to see the impact, we will probably see better results, implemented faster.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Unconditional Respect

Yesterday while driving on a busy street, I noticed an old man trying to cross. Just as he thought he got a clearing, a two-wheeler came rushing down to cut his path and the man stepped back.

Not an unusual sight. I have heard my father complain about the impossibility of crossing certain roads. I recently took my mother out and was surprised at how, in the last one year of restricted movement and commuting only by car if needed, she found the roads that she had traversed with as much alacrity as her age permitted, unsafe. I don't even send my children to the road outside my gate for fear of speeding vehicles though at their age, I remember being sent to the local shops several times in a day.

This syndrome of treating the road as personal domain is a result not just of the high one gets from the powerful engines and the speed associated with it but our own attitude to the world. I think it is a consequence of the attitude - 'only 'I' matter(s?). If you want respect and consideration, earn it. Till then, I shall act just as I please.'

The suave may have cultured ways of expressing it. But when practiced by the uncultured or the pretentious, it borders on to aggression and insensitivity. It transgresses boundaries and interferes with others' rights and lives, disturbing them in ways that do not make us any respectable.

Have we forgotten the question, "What do I do to deserve respect and consideration?"

I will not hark back to ancient times, for the brash and the bashful existed at all times. In fact, aware of the human tendency to become selfish and self-centered, the stress was on respecting lives, be it other humans, animals or plants. The question asked was not whether they deserve respect but whether we have it in us to be respectful.

I can understand well why. When I pause to give someone way, when I try to put my needs behind, the heart expands and the feeling of well-being spreads through my body. When for some reason, even genuine, I dig my heels in, I feel closed and tense like a taut string. Certain situations cannot be avoided. But that moment need not define the respect I give the other. I can and must learn not to colour my attitude of respect with a moment of disagreement. If disagreements continue, I can maintain my respectful distance.

Giving respect is an act not for the benefit of the other person, but ourselves. It makes us better humans and let's strive for that.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Fervent Hope

BJP on its way to forming the government. Narendra Modi on the verge of becoming the prime minister.

While one camp celebrates, the other throws its hands up in frustration, thinking nothing good can ever come of yet another old party coming to power.

How did this frustration seep in? When I think back, I remember PV Narasimha Rao from the Congress as prime minister and the revolutionary changes he brought about to the country's economy. I remember Atal Behari Vajpayee and again the continued progress. Yes, there was the Godhra incident that we cannot forget, that we should not forget.

Then came the Congress government, two terms. Progressive decay, as a relative pointed out. Corruption in every aspect of life. No wonder, we are bitter about politics, political parties in general.

We now have BJP elected, well entrenched in the Parliament. The challenge is not just for the party but the people as well. Responsibility, if you will.

* Of delivering on promise of ensuring progress
* Of ensuring communal harmony
* Of fighting corruption
* Of good governance

And the people, of making sure the government walks the straight path.

The hope is that the Congress under an inexperienced Sonia Gandhi was an anomaly. That opposition will be strong and monitor progress closely. That Congress will learn from its mistakes and reemerge with more sanity, headed by visionary politicians and not promoted by nepotism. I have no love for the party but we need options at all times if democracy must work.

That AAP will learn and emerge a strong voice that understands governance - yes, we need more than two parties.

But always, always, that the interests of the country will remain supreme.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Other Side

Miss America is of Indian origin; and this has kicked up a row where some Americans have expressed shock, displaying deep racist attitude. And others have condemned them.

Amidst all this, there was a report that said America leads the way in celebrating Indian beauty.

I feel deeply offended. I know the fetish with fair skin exists in our country. I know girls, and these days boys, also seek remedies to turn their dark skin to fair. But I think it is totally uncalled for to judge the general Indian psyche as being colour obsessed. We have had dusky skin Ms. Indias. We have heroines and people in the public sphere who are not fair. And Rahul Gandhi is not very popular despite his fair skin and half-foreign parentage. If he has any standing, it is because of his Indian ancestry. Okay, that just slipped in.

Why do we forget that foreigners have a fetish for the tanned skin too? For that matter, what about anti-aging!

This is not just about the skin tone. We believe that the recent sex-related crimes have happened because Indian society is repressive and so men give vent to their fantasies by attacking the nearest available, vulnerable women. And if a white skin is within reach, then why not. The implication being, in liberal societies, such crimes are not committed because there is no repression.

Read the Millennium Series, based entirely in Sweden, considered one of the more liberal societies. It is all about sex crimes. I read one very disturbing article about a 16-year-old American girl who had committed suicide because her friends had done graffiti all over her body when she was drunk, taken photographs and spread it on the Internet. Then, of course, there is the case of the girl raped by a football team. And, surprise surprise, these societies too blame the victims!

It happening there does not cancel out what happens here. What I am upset about is the way we think more liberal and open societies do not have such crimes and that somehow India is a potboiler for every evil happening in the world. We oversimplify the issue and so lose perspective. No corrective action works because we are barking up the wrong tree. The intelligentsia is self-critical to the point where only the bad is highlighted.

Everything is not right, I agree, but where did we lose the way? How did the externals become more important than developing the mind and the soul? Why have we lost respect for our work, our education, our elders?

Introspection, connecting with the self - simple practices that will keep us rooted... Can we bring these back in to our lives? Will that be the way forward?

Friday, September 13, 2013

I am a savage, you have a problem?

Death sentence is a mark of barbaric society, say some thinkers. Yes, true. But, we live in a barbaric society. We live in a society where six men not only rape a woman but also brutally maim her internal organs! We live in a society where women think twice before stepping out in the dark in lonely streets, lonely buses, lonely shops, watching their backs forever. We live in a society where even young children of five and below are not spared.

Will death sentence really deter the perpetrators of such crimes, you ask. Right. When the woman was helplessly screaming, were her thoughts about how to reform these men? Do you think such men can be reformed?

When the judge tries the case of Nirbhaya's rape, his duty is to first deal with that. And anything less than death would be unfair for it is not only rape but attempted murder too.

Take the case of the serial rapist in Karnataka who managed to escape from jail despite conviction. he was caught, fine. But may not have been too. Do we want that to happen again with these four men - I wish it were five, for the fifth's age makes no impression on me and the courts have proved they are 'civilised' enough by treating him as a juvenile despite the severity of his crime.

We need reforms. We need to strengthen the legal system. We need to ensure safety for women. We need to teach men to respect women from the time they are young. But all this will take a generation to implement, and that too, only if we continue to remain sincere and diligent.

The ones who are already hardened with time need to know that justice will be swift and merciless. The women need to know that they can go to court and they will not be held responsible for what happens to them. They will need to know that they can shout from the rooftops that they have been violated without being blamed for it.

And that the men will not go scotfree.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Great Disconnect

I rarely read the newspapers. I am sure many will agree that it hardly makes for a great start to a day.

But the once in a while reading makes me wonder if there is any difference between the American and the Indian societies any more. When the American shootout happened late last year, raising several questions, India answered with its own volley - the Delhi rape case that rocked the country.

The Americans debated and lost the vote on making acquiring gun difficult. In India, the debate is more complicated. Is making women difficult to acquire the answer?

The good thing is that insensitive police force not withstanding, more such cases are reported. The sad part is that many of the victims seem to have not even crossed the single digit mark!

But the other menace that is equally scary is that of acid throwing. Today's paper has a report of a man in Coimbatore throwing acid on his male colleagues. No doubt, this has nothing to do with disappointed love. What could it be? Feeling humiliated, insulted, sidelined? Some deep-rooted psychological problem? Is acid the equivalent of gun?

Here I am tempted to quote from Vasistha's Yoga by Swami Venkatesananda. Sage Vasistha advises Rama: 'The eternal is not attained by rites and rituals, by pilgrimages nor by wealth; it is to be attained only by the conquest of one's mind, by the cultivation of wisdom. ... All that is good and auspicious flows from self-control.'

American society has been about pursuit of happiness, or rather, pleasures. That society is now in tatters. We have successfully emulated it in all aspects, having made pursuit of wealth and pleasure our main goal. But it has weakened the fabric of the society. Personal goals, desires, aspirations take precedence over everything else - including family and children, who need our care and love to be strong and self-assured. When neglected children with attention seeking behaviour grow up - will they suddenly become mature, confident, contributing individuals?

Let's stop deluding ourselves and introspect. 'Family' and 'sacrifice' have become out of fashion. Either we live with it, come up with alternatives, or go back to the basics.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Here and Now

A chocolate, asked the child
Not now darling, came the reply
Pouting, crying, throwing a tantrum
The best way to have his way

Get me this, get me that
Needs grew with age just like that
No was not an answer to be had
Pouting, crying, tantrum were for that

The needs and demands grew
And though he became older too
The years of practice in that art
Made unlearning not too cool

From simple things his mind moved
To reaching out for the distant moon
Sometimes not in ways too straight
But it was important to have it too

And then one day something tickled
His mind and it was getting pickled
Get me a girl now he said
Or else, the gun in his hand jiggled

All he got was a girl too young
With a sweet tooth and sweet tongue
Chocolate lured her into his den
Yet again he had won.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Watching the IPL, I was wondering about the message that circulates from time to time in the Facebook - IPL players paid in millions while our soldiers (Indian Armed Forces) protecting the country getting pittance.

Mmmm... I know it seems unfair, but I wonder if I would really want the soldiers paid such obscene money. Won't it somehow make them solely mercenary? And then, the ones who sponsor such pays - since the government cannot afford it, I am sure - won't they want the payment to be justified (I am not even going to talk about tax payers who do not pay taxes or people who siphon off whatever they can in large projects, thus creating a greater deficit than is justified)? And just like the ordinance industry that justifies its production by encouraging terrorism, these people also want periodical wars just so the soldiers really earn their living? Which will mean there will be no peace times.

Something like the Hunger Games, maybe? And then, they will need to retrieve their costs - the sponsors, that is. So will they have these wars they create screened on TV? What about live spectators - maybe they will have people who love to live on the edge hogging the front rows cheering the soldiers?

And to add spice - for what is exciting about monotonous gunning - maybe some side shows that border on to horrifying sights that defy humanity?

No, I know the conditions of the army can improve, soldiers deserve better respect and recognition, and they definitely can be paid better. But to compare the act of service the soldiers do to a bunch of players playing for pure entertainment - it doesn't hold for me. IPL - the way the players are 'valued' - goes against the grain. But the way we root for the teams - it does pay to pay them, doesn't it?

And when there is a war? When there is a war, we would rather it ended quickly and peace returned, won't we? Where is the money in that?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Just a Chalice

'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood is written god knows about where and which age. But nothing could describe our society better, given the knee jerk reaction from the governments to "protect" women. The answer, to put her behind reams of clothes, lock her up in a room, restrict her movement. And, oh yes, use her only for procreation. She says the women are just chalices with a body to cover it so that they may receive the semen from the men. Of course, men too cannot look at her. This, purportedly, is to protect the women who were "suffering" when free.

We are seeing much the same in our country now. Unable to come up with answers to the questions being raised about women's safety, the governments seem to believe that the onus lies with women solely to protect themselves - and that is by covering themselves from head to toe and remaining confined within the walls of their homes.

Respected administrators, please assure us that women are safe in the confines of their homes. That women in purdah countries are safe. That the more conventionally dressed women in the villages are safe.

That the answer to the problem lies with the victims and not the perpetrators. That if a man is murdered, it is the one killed who has to be punished and not the killer. That if there is a robbery, the robbed to be penalised and not the robbbers... Is this what justice is all about

Friday, November 16, 2012

Faith - Lack Thereof

On Facebook, I recently saw a debate sparked off by a comment on the movie Oh My God. I am yet to watch it - just like many other recent movies. I was told by my friend that it is a must watch, a Hindu friend.

And then this debate where some opposed the movie, questioning the Hindus for remaining silent at the movies criticising Hindu beliefs, or babas, and the others defending saying it reflects realities on the ground and is really a non-issue.

But religion itself is not a non-issue, and I wonder why. Can somebody's criticising things I believe in bring down its value? Do I find the worth of the thing/god I believe in only through validation by others? I believe in Lord Ram and a friend of mine, a Hindu, was very surprised. "I have not come across anyone who so specifically says they believe in Ram," she said. I was not surprised. For, amongst many women, he is the epitome of MCPism - exiling his wife being the prime reason. And as I performed a dance ballet on the Yuddha Kandam, I was amused that thrice Ravana's army manages to kill him/render him helpless and yet, in the end, through divine help, he manages to come back and, again through divine help, kill Ravana. He treats Sita shabbily then, and later, when she is pregnant.

I am aware of all this. But it does not shake my faith in Him.

Has he personally given me darshan? Does he speak to me or send his monkey army for my protection? Nothing of the sort.

So, do I pray to him everyday, diligently? Sometimes, I take comfort in the fact that the theist and the atheist all go through the same travails, so if I skip my prayers one day, I will not be punished any extra because of it so long as I don't make my life hell by agonising over it.

But when my heart beats fast in fear or anxiety, His name gives me peace and calm. When I find myself over excited and want to become detached as prescribed in the Gita, I take a deep breath in and try to feel Him within me, and that grounds me - if I am able to acheive that connection, which is sometimes very elusive. When I hear words of abuse that makes me want to shout back - and if I delay it for a fraction of a second and take His name - I am able to fight my anger better. I find my hell and heaven here everyday depending on how I feel and act, and the days I feel the presence are heaven. The same day can turn into hell for some obscure reason, if I let that dominate my mind.

Do you believe in Him? That is of no consequence to me. Your loving or hating or indifference to Him have nothing to do with me. It is between Him and me, and you don't even enter the equation.

So am I a Hindu? I love a lot of things associated with the Indian culture - the alpana in the morning when my mind is only on the design, pushing all other thoughts out. And with age, I can understand why it was prescribed as a morning activity, though in the rush of getting children out of the house, I do miss doing it sometimes. But that is step one to doing something on your own and connect with yourself first thing in the morning. The lighting of the lamp - though I don't do it on most days - again, the act focuses one's mind. The flowers, the dot on the forehead - the time taken to dress up modestly, naturally, and feel good. No, no, I don't do those either but I know the sense of rootedness it gives one.

And isn't that the purpose of religion and associated traditions - to root one and not rout out others? If one has faith, and faith in that faith, how can others' views matter. It is unscientific, of course. When even I can't understand why it gives me strength, how can I expect others to understand it then?  Why should I be disturbed by your questioning it either?

And by same logic, how can I understand what you believe in and why? Who am I to question it?

Maybe, this is how a majority of Hindus live, and so it doesn't bother them when a movie tears Hinduism apart. For the religion shown in the movie may not be the religion they practice at all!

Organised religion has a place in organising life. But when it disrupts life and becomes a cause for anger and frustration - do we blame the religion or the narrow mindedness of the people who build rigid walls around themselves? Such people, I sincerely believe, will use some excuse or the other to vent out their anger on the world. Religion is just an excuse.

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