Sunday, June 15, 2014

Very Important Episodes from the Mahabharata

My intention here is not to promote my religion in any way. I somehow feel that these episodes are very important because they offer solutions to most of life's problems.

12th June -Krishna enlightens Arjun about the Bhaktiyoga

Krishna enlightens Arjun about the Bhaktiyoga. He tells Arjun about the relationship between dedication and devotion. He informs Arjun that devotion towards the almighty is remarkable. Krishna tells Arjun that the development of a soul is possible only when it is present in the human body. He tells Arjun that devotion is a state of mind. Arjun wishes to see Krishna's real avatar. Krishna shows his Vishwaroop avatar to Arjun. Arjun becomes overwhelmed on witnessing the same.

11th June - Krishna enlightens Arjun about the Karmayoga

Krishna suggests Arjun to accept the consequences, either victory or failure. He enlightens Arjun about Karmayoga. Arjun assumes that he has to become a hermit to follow Karmayoga. Krishna tells him that one can follow Karmayoga even in a society. He informs Arjun that the aim of every soul is to attain moksha. Arjun learns that Krishna is almighty. Krishna asks Arjun to leave everything behind. He informs Arjun about his incarnations. Krishna tells Arjun that he is eternal and primeval.

10th June- Krishna enlightens Arjun about the Gunas

Krishna informs Arjun that the composition of human bodies are the same, yet their behaviour is different. He enlightens Arjun about Sattva, Tamas and Rajas. Arjun analyses Duryodhan, Dushyasan, Bhishma and Dronacharya with respect to the Gunas. Krishna informs Arjun that the human body can be destroyed but the soul is eternal. He informs Arjun that every soul should try to understand the almighty. Krishna tells Arjun that death is definite for all. He asks Arjun to get ready for the war.

9th June -Krishna enlightens Arjun about dharma

Krishna mentions the misdeeds of Duryodhan, Dushyasan and Shakuni, and the sacrifices of Bhishma and Dronacharya. He enlightens Arjun about dharma and adharma. Arjun becomes worried on thinking about the aftermath of war. Krishna informs Arjun that the destruction of the Kuru army is necessary  for the dawn of a new society. He suggests Arjun to fulfill his responsibility by participating in the war. Arjun becomes nervous and drops his Gandiv. He requests Krishna to guide him towards the right path.

Mahabharat - [Full Episode] - 12th June 2014 : Ep 211

Mahabharat - [Full Episode] - 11th June 2014 : Ep 210

Mahabharat - [Full Episode] - 10th June 2014 : Ep 209

Mahabharat - [Full Episode] - 9th June 2014 : Ep 208

Monday, February 3, 2014

Discrimination in Delhi

Delhi the capital of India, is hailed as the city that belongs to everyone.  People from all across India come to Delhi for education, jobs and a better standard of living. The facilities available here are better than the rest of India. However existence in a multilingual, multiracial and multicultural society is a challenge for those who are not trained to celebrate diversity. These irresponsible and indiscreet Indian citizens, who generalize and publicly voice their hatred, are a threat to our society. They need to be educated. The ‘chalta hai’ (It's OK) attitude won’t work anymore. The tolerance level of people is far less now. This is the twenty first century, a majority of people are aware of the existence of at least basic human rights. Not many can tolerate bullying. So we need to reform our education system.  Parents also need to understand that parenting is an art and that they have responsibilities other than financing their child’s existence.

If our system of school education had been designed to train children to be humane human beings, things would have been different. If our parents were a little careful while venting their age old prejudices, in front of their children, things would have been different. If our movies, advertisements, sitcoms, hadn’t sown the seeds of racial, lingual and cultural hatred, under the garb of depicting reality, things would have been different. And if our politicians, hadn’t for their selfish motives, brainwashed weak individuals to spread hatred, things would have been different.

Racial discrimination has prevailed in India since time immemorial.  However, it’s existence hasn’t been widely accepted or understood for that matter. For example -all the people from the southern states of India ( Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu) are seen as one. They are called 'Kaale Madrasi', 'Aiyo Rama', 'Idli Sambaar'. People from the north-eastern regions are called -'chinki', 'chinese army', 'nepali' 'bahadur' etc.The treatment meted out to 'Blacks' in Delhi, is barbaric. They are called 'Kaaloo', 'Negro' etc. Only the 'Whites' of a certain class are treated with some respect. The not so well dressed types are referred to as 'hippies', 'gora saala charsee' etc. They are duped by everyone.

‘Kaala-black’, ‘peela-yellow’, ‘bhoora-brown’ and ‘gora-white’ are skin types and just that.  Character traits aren’t defined by one’s skin colour. When people make an advertisement to sell a fairness crème, they just need to focus on the product, they don’t need to send across a social message that ‘black’ is inferior and ‘white’ is superior.  When eminent lyricists write songs for a movie, they don’t have to propagate that white skin is beautiful. If you are in a position of power and want the people of your country to coexist in harmony, all you have to do is be a bit more sensible and responsible. Since you are successful, people subscribe to your ideas, without thinking.  The ‘goras’, ‘kaalas’ and ‘peelas’ -all made you the star that you are, remember that. 

Class discrimination- If you are wealthy, you can be of any colour, caste, region or religion-people are going to respect you in India. If there is any country in the world, where a wealthy person can live the life of a king or queen of the old times, it is India. He/she can employ any number of servants, perpetrate crimes and get away with it, have an official wife and many mistresses, rent out his many properties and hire people to manage his finances, keep adding on to his luxuries and basically exploit people to any extent. Unless, s/he is a public figure, there is nothing really to prevent him/her from doing whatever, he/ she wants.

Delhiites are big show-offs. The amount of money that even an upper middle class family spends on its ward‘s wedding, can be used to feed at least a 100 people for an year. Due to the unimaginable rise in the property prices in India, some ‘inherited types’, who don’t really deserve to inherit anything, are causing much harm to the tranquility of the society. These people, who walk around with guns and goons, are dangerous, so I won’t venture to describe them any further.

People from the posh regions of Delhi look down upon those hailing from the not so posh regions. The educated high class of South Delhi looks down upon the equally rich business class from the same region.  The ‘inherited’ types look down upon the ‘self-made’ types. Diplomats, politicians, business persons, professors, doctors - no matter how evil they are, will always be considered superior to their servants. Very few can do without employing servants in Delhi. Yet their work is always considered to be inferior. Slavery laws were passed only for the Western world to follow! The way people treat their servants in Delhi, is nerve wracking.

'Respectable’ professionals, would never marry people doing blue collar jobs. One thinks of class even before loving! The class divisions in India are so clearly etched in our minds that they seem natural. 

Gender discrimination – Women are accepted to be inferior beings. Even though women in Delhi are comparatively more emancipated than those living in the rural regions of India, they are discriminated. Eve teasing is pretty common everywhere-be it an educational institution, bus stop, workplace or even a temple.For example women with toned bodies are called - Dhamaka, pataka, phuljhadee, tota, maal etc. Fat women are called - saand, haathi, hidimba, pehelwaan etc. Thin women are called -flat-"kuch dekhney layak hai hi nahi bhaiya, ab kaa karein?". A dilliwalla’s language is essentially patriarchal. There are also a certain category of women, even the educated ones, who perpetrate patriarchy.  

People from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community are all considered to be freaks. They don't even have the basic human right to love. And we live in the world's largest Democracy. Rule by the people and all. So these people aren't 'people'?

Discrimination based on caste and religion – Only upper caste Hindus are not discriminated against, based on their caste and religion. Rest all are, in some way or the other.  People from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Other Backward Castes (OBC) and people from minority communities are hated not only because they were born into these castes but also because they enjoy certain benefits which people from the General category are deprived of.  I’ll be lying if I say that I was very calm when undeserving candidates were considered over me for admission to, or employment in, government run institutions. I have met with many people who have claimed their right to reservation, when they don’t need any. However, reservation has helped in their upliftment in a big way. The fact remains that these people are not even treated like human beings in most regions of India. Delhi in that way, is a little more tolerant. Here class matters more than caste.

As to religion, Muslims are discriminated against everywhere in India. North Indians cannot forget the partition. They seem to be convinced that a majority of Muslims are violent. No matter how hard the Muslims try to accommodate, Hindus cannot give up their prejudices. They are believed to have many wives and children. Some are terrorists while the others are tantrics (necromancers)! Nonsense! They are referred to as 'Mullaas'. However, in Delhi, even though people say anything to or about the Muslims, compared to the other states, there is no real hatred. And somehow, I feel that the practical and money-minded people of Delhi have accepted that they will have to cooperate with the Muslims. The people of Delhi respect success and there are many successful and famous Muslims in every field now, especially in Bollywood. And young Delhiites aren’t that pig-headed.

Christians and Anglo-Indians are considered to be meat eating alcoholics with little moral fibre. The depiction of Anglo-Indians in Hindi cinema, I think, has played a major role in creating this image.There are very few Christians in Delhi.  I agree that Delhites do have their share of prejudices about this community but there is no hatred for them. Christians have always been law abiding citizens of this country, who rarely, if ever indulge in violence of any kind. They are also known for their social work. Anglo-Indians are fewer still. All Christians are not Anglo-Indians. This is a popular myth. Earlier these people were bullied for their attire and way of life. However, post globalization, our own way of life has changed. So Indians have generally become more tolerant towards mixed race alliances. But the foreign spouses of Indians, always remain 'foreign', even if they spend their whole lives in India. Bullying comes naturally to Delhiites. Rarely do they realize that they are hurting people.

Sikhs, the most courageous, helpful and affectionate people in the country are called stupid-'jhalla'. They are never taken seriously. What percentage of Sikhs live below the poverty line? They must be really very stupid !

Regional discrimination- The most popular question in Delhi is- ‘Aap kahan ke ho’? (Where are you from?). There are popular beliefs about people from every region. No matter how hard you try to shatter these beliefs by proving to be the opposite, people here don’t give up their prejudices easily. Everyone passes comments fairly freely. For example- The people from Bihar and UP are believed to be corrupt and not so refined-they are called UP ka bhaiya and Bihari Babu , the Punjabis are believed to very selfish and dishonest, Sindhis are referred to as 'Saamp'(Snake). Frankly I have never met a single cunning or dishonest Sindhi in my life. Bengali people, the most evolved of the Indians, I think, are derided for their ascent (Hindi), poor eyesight, love for fish. They are often made to suffer for their sincerity and seriousness towards work. 

I would like to conclude by saying that except for the wealthy, everyone in Delhi is bullied in some way or the other. You cannot survive in Delhi, if you are not thick skinned. Learning to ignore is a very important trait that one must acquire before entering Delhi. The second and third generation Delhiites are far more sensitive and modern in their ideas. They have understood that in order to survive in Delhi, one has to be truly cosmopolitan. Besides, their upbringing in Delhi has facilitated their interaction with people of every sort, so they have been able to give up a lot of their prejudices.  The real bullying that happens on the roads, often leading to violence, isn’t ordinarily perpetrated by people raised in Delhi. However, the nature of bullying that the people from the North Eastern regions of India face, is very different. It is often inhuman. This is a very serious issue. These people are very tolerant and reasonable, yet they are discriminated. Something should be done about their protection in Delhi.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Some quotable quotes from Jane Austen's novel 'Persuasion'

Jane Austen's novel 'Persuasion' may not be as popular as 'Pride and Prejudice' but I think it is equally good. It's amazing that with limited education, little exposure to the outside world and hardly any encouragement, Jane Austen could write such wonderful books. She is often criticized for not including details of the revolutionary changes happening in the world around her. People forget that not every writer can be a chronicler. 

I have read all her novels more than once. Here are some lines that I liked from 'Persuasion': 

"Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” 

“My idea of good the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'
'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.” 

“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.” 

“If there is any thing disagreeable going on, men are always sure to get out of it.” 

“One man's ways may be as good as another's, but we all like our own best.”
“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men."

“Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing; but the age of emotion she certainly had not.” 

 "If I was wrong in yielding to persuasion once, remember that it was to persuasion exerted on the side of safety, not of risk. When I yielded, I thought it was to duty; but no duty could be called in aid here. In marrying a man indifferent to me, all risk would have been incurred, and all duty violated."

“She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.”

"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering."

"It was, perhaps, one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides."

"It is a sort of pain, too, which is new to me.  I have been used to the gratification of believing myself to earn every blessing that I enjoyed.  I have valued myself on honourable toils and just rewards.  Like other great men under reverses,' he added with a smile, 'I must endeavor to subdue my mind to my fortune.  I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve."

“Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.” 


Monday, January 6, 2014

2013: An year spent in hospitals

Post angioplasty my mother suffered from lung infection after which she underwent a very high risk bypass surgery; Post open surgery of the intestines, my nephew contracted Dengue; Several very close family friends, who mean more to us than our relatives, were hospitalized. Two of them were diagnosed with cancer and had to attend several sessions of chemotherapy. Maternal aunt died. Important family occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and festivals were all spent in hospitals. After 2002, the year my dad died, 2013, was the worst year of my life.

In February, my Mom fell down and injured her knee and arm. After this she stopped going for her daily strolls. But she remained active at home. She has always been a brilliant homemaker. In March, two days before Holi, I hurt my knee and couldn’t celebrate Holi with my colleagues.  On the 4th of April, my mother’s eldest sister passed away, following a heart attack. On the 12th of April, one of our neighbours, aged 40, passed away, following a heart attack. My brother and mother spent Vishu (Malayalee new year, the 14th of April), with the members of the deceased neighbour’s family.

On the 31st of May, my perfectly normal nephew suffered from extreme stomach ache and had to be rushed to a hospital, where he had to undergo an emergency surgery. His intestines had got entangled. He remained in bed for almost 20 days.

Things started normalizing and the kids in the family, were planning to celebrate both my sister’s marriage anniversary and my birthday, in the last week of June. On the 25th of June, late in the evening, my mother experienced chest pain and had to be rushed to the nearest hospital.  Now, we had a strong prejudice against this 5-star hospital (We now know that it is better than most hospitals). So after ascertaining that it was safe to take her to another hospital, we rushed her to Hospital H, in an ambulance. We were told that there was no cardio-care facility there. It was at 3 a.m. in the morning that we managed to find a hospital (Hospital M) where my mother could be admitted.  Post angiography we were told that three of her coronary arteries were blocked and that she would have to undergo angioplasty. We were told by Dr.SG, that a bypass was a very risky surgery and that it should be avoided. On my birthday, the 27th of June, my mother underwent angioplasty. On my birthday, I was praying for the life of the lady who had given me birth. It was successful. At least that is what we were told. What we were not told was that her arteries were shrunk beyond repair and only a surgery could have cured her.  At least this is what the cardiologists we consulted immediately before the bypass told us (verbally, not in writing).

My intention is not to incriminate anyone. I shall never file a case, sue or deliberately malign any hospital or doctor. I seriously do not have the time or energy to get into legal hassles. Besides, I am just a lay person who knows nothing about medicine.  I only want the people who read this blog post to not have blind faith in doctors.*1

May be an angioplasty, was the only solution at that time.  However, I would like to bring out certain facts. A bypass surgery costs around 1.75 lakhs in a normal hospital and 2.25 lakhs in a 5-star hospital. An angioplasty costs much more. People are often told, like we were, that stents are imported from Western countries. So each high quality stent costs around 1-1.5 lakhs. The metallic ones cost around 50 thousand to 1 lakh. Other costs are around 1 lakh. So a bypass is comparatively cheaper, that’s why, I think, it is not recommended these days!*2

 We visited Dr.SG at least twice, after the angioplasty. Every time she was very rude to us. We have been raised to respect doctors and teachers at all times, so we didn't lose our cool. Besides, my mother was up and moving within a week. It didn't seem that she had had any heart problem. She was more active than before.  It seemed to us that Dr. SG had cured her. May be she had, temporarily. Don’t know.

Things started normalizing but again in the first week of August, my brother-in-law had to get both his eyes operated. However, we could celebrate Onam happily. On his birthday, in September, my nephew was busy preparing for his exams. So, he chose to delay the celebrations. On the day of his last exam, he fell ill again. We were told that he had dengue. He was bed ridden for 15 days.

In the first week of October, my mother suffered from extreme cough. Since the mucus was neither yellow nor green, she was asked to take normal medicines for cold. On the 17th of October, late in the afternoon, when I and my brother had gone to the nearest bank in our locality, my mother again experienced chest pain. We rushed back home and took her to Hospital M, the place where she had undergone angioplasty.  Angiography was done again and it was found that the arteries with stents were blocked again. Now Dr.SG said that my mother will have to undergo a bypass surgery and the members of the surgery team told us that there was only 5 % risk involved. We were flabbergasted. We informed our family friends in the United States, both doctors, but not cardiologists. They asked us to consult their friend, Cardiologist A, in India, who in turn asked us to consult one of the best cardio-surgeons in the country, Dr. VeryGood and immediately shift her to Hospital N. My mother’s chest infection had to be cured before the surgery could be performed. Doctors at Hospital N tried their best to treat the chest infection for 5 days after which it was considered unsafe to wait. All the members of my family were running from pillar to post, to arrange for six bottles of blood, out of which 2 bottles had to be fresh warm blood, to be transfused at the time of the surgery. Most of our family friends have diabetes. Some were suffering from Dengue at that time. So we were finding it very hard to arrange for blood. Finally, 1 known and 5 completely unknown people, volunteered to donate blood. My mother had to be taken for the surgical intervention, with the chest infection. It was a 7 hour surgery. She was saved! She remained in hospital for a fortnight. It's been two months now, my mother is still bedridden. A lot of medicines don't suit her. My mother has always looked after others. This is probably the first time that others are looking after her. 

There is no way we can thank the excellent doctors, nurses and staff at Hospital N and the kind souls who donated blood to my mother. I am also extremely grateful to all our family friends who have stood by my family at all times. Some of them sat with us, for 7 hrs, at the hospital, when my mother was being operated upon, while the others prayed at home for 7 hours. I remember one 68 year old Punjabi family friend told my brother “Beta paise paddey hue hain ghar par, kyon phaltoo mein bank ja raha hai, le ja”(Son, money is lying in my home, why are you going to the bank to withdraw money? Take it from me). When my brother refused, he said, “ Achcha chal paisey nahi le raha toh mujhey at least khoon hi arrange karney de” (Ok if you are not taking money from me then at least let me arrange for blood). He did that. His older son is undergoing treatment for cancer and he had withdrawn a lot of money from the bank for his treatment.  May God bless all these people!

PS:  Every human being should have access to good healthcare facilities. There shouldn't be any class discrimination here. That's why I have referred to a certain hospital as 'Hospital 5-star'