Thursday, September 30, 2010

Concern and Confusion about the Rama Janma Bhumi.

I admit that I have not really followed the Babri Masjid story in all its ramifications! When the Babri Masjid was brought down I was an NRI living in Thailand. Thailand has its own Ayuthaya and many Thais believe Phra Ram was born there and Ramayana (Ramakein) happened there! In fact Rama IX is the constitutional monarch of Thailand. I also know that Malays and Indonesians also have their own versions of Ramayana and I honestly do not know if they have their own sites of Rama Janma Bhumi.

Yesterday I was shocked as I watched TV to learn that the area under dispute is just 2.77 acres. The country was at a stand still for all practical purposes because of this disputed acreage. There was tension all over the country. It took me back to the times as a kid during the second world war when there were air raid warnings in the night and I could not sleep being scared.

Frankly I felt sorry for the three judges. My first reaction was why did they have to get stuck with this. The case was going on for 60 years and could have gone on. How could they decide on an issue which goes back 500 years in history. Read any paper in Bangalore, it is full of stories of hundreds of distressed people who were victims of all kinds of land scams and land grabs and they are all in recent times when you expect things to be better as a democratic country. It was neither the feudal times nor the colonial days.

Like Lord Rama, who it seems is one of the litigants , even many of us are victims of land grabs. Many are retired people who had invested their life savings and are cheated. The advise given to any victim of a land scam is to forget it as bad karma. They say land records are manipulated all the time. When I get worried and ask them 'What about the project where I have booked a flat?' They console me with 'There are so many of you involved, so it should be OK. It is more risky if you are a single owner'. That seems to be the clue. Be the majority or be large enough to be a nuisance.

So if the judges have given a panchayat type of verdict, I can empathise with it. They are surely aware of the ground reality of the very corrupt systems prevalent in all land dealings and have taken a pragmatic view of things. Why should they and their families face a mob with their own set of rules, who stop at nothing and are willing to put the whole country and the lives of many at risk. If our land records as a democratic country is so suspect, where is the sanctity of times which were feudal and later colonial. How can anyone be sure?

In any case there is one more level of judges who are supreme. It is true that they are bound to interpret laws which are in place. But again they are bound by the same unreliable set of facts which the judges of high court were faced with. While we can wait for them to finally dispose of the case, reason dictates that this is an issue which should be decided in a pragmatic way.

We can accept either the panchayat type of dispension or it could be left to the spirits of Ram or Rahim. We are told that Ram resides in each one of us, the believers. I gather Allah is pleased if the believers offer prayer at given times while facing Mecca. I have seen believers do this in as far off places as in a park in Vancouver. B.C. Ultimately the sanctity is in your heart not in the place you kneel on or the aarthi you perform. It also does not depend on how grand is the temple or the mosque is built.

I suggest that the litigants could share this plot of land as suggested by the pragmatic judges or they can ask a child to pick up a chit choosing one of the litigants. I think anything else is just politics and not really faith. Let us hope that the politicians finally work together for the common good of the people, diverse as they are.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Certain traits are deep rooted!

Yesterday was a strange day. We were on our way to J P Nagar to inspect our apartment and I had brushes with two different vehicles. The first was a lady on a scooter, whose shoulder pushed against the right side mirror. Luckily it folded backwards and no damage done. I think she managed to avoid hitting the side of our car even though she was sandwiched between us and a bus. God bless her!

Actually the bus would not have been on that lane in any disciplined and a civilised city. Also there was no need for her to push past us. We were all waiting for the traffic light to turn. But this is India and we are Indians and we cannot wait!

Then the road got narrow and a large road divider made it very tight. Suddenly a bus came parallel to our car from the left, too close for Tara's comfort! Normally I yield, but yesterday I decided to keep my nerve and kept driving parallel to him and suddenly there was a sound and the left side mirror folded. The bus raced past and stopped just ahead of me at the red light. Later I discovered that there was more damage, he had dented the mudguard as well.

Again there was no need for the driver to do this, just to go ahead and stop. But we are Indians and he had to show who is mightier! I am certain he had a swipe at my car on purpose, because he was trying to get ahead of me and I did not let him.

But Tara thinks it was an accident and said it was my fault to have kept so close to him! I agree it is better not to challenge the macho bus drivers. I was stupid, but I suppose a dent to my pride would have been more serious than a dent on the car!

We then went to see our apartment and saw stranger things . We have all seen pictures of the footprints on the bed in the rooms of the CWG village. My first reaction was; 'why would anyone do this?' I can understand dirty toilets and washbasins which as Mr. Bhanot says is no big deal, but foot prints on the bed I could not comprehend.

I was in for a surprise when I walked in to our floor of the apartment complex. They are one of the well known Private Builders and I did not expect this:

Saw this is on the corridors as we entered our apartment.

I suppose it does not matter now as this is outside our apartment and they would eventually take care.

Then we saw a few cracked tiles and wondered 'why did the builders invite us to inspect', before taking care of such obvious defects. Now they need another month to repair, but are ready to hand over to us for doing the interiors with a promise to take care of this later!

The project was delayed by more than a year and the story is that they are short of skilled workers for the interiors. We all have lost money because of the delays, for the rework done and the work is still shoddy.
As I walked out saw two young workers in the corridor and one of them was actually damaging the wall just for fun! I could not take a picture as he was vandalising but here is a picture of the damage. Would have been more, if I had not caught him in the act. I asked him 'why' and just gave me a stupid grin!

Why this negative attitude from our workers? It doesn't seem to matter whether they are at the CWG or at a presitigious private project.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It is about Light Music and a Charity Show.

Last Saturday Tara organised a charity show in aid of Pakinson's Disease Society of Karnataka. Desimagik a team of very talented and very popular singers were featured in the show.

We were treated to a heady mixture of music from old and new Hindi films. The young team was full of energy and enthusiasm. There was also a bonus as two grandmothers, Tara and Indira, pitched in. Indira one of the renowned sami sisters added variety with some very popular english melodies of the old. It was nostalgia for many of us! In all a very memorable evening of Light Music!

Prof E. S. Dwaraka Dasa an active managing committee member spoke about the activities of the society and the need for an awareness of the Parkinson's disease. A patient Mr. Venkataramana Shetty later spoke and said that it was a tough disease to cope. He regretted that other patients could not attend as they would not be able to sit through the program. A pity!

PDSK was formed by a group in individuals who were all affected by the disease in some way. It is a support group which holds periodical meetings to spread awareness and counsel patients and the families thus affected. They also celebrate Deepavali as a group and the World Pakinson's day. The press is invited to cover the event and thus advertise the existence of the society. There are about 200 members in the society.

The society also helps indigent patients. The medicines are expensive and Mayura Prahlad, the Asst Secretary said that 30 patients are given free medicine and there are more patients who require this subsidy and the proceeds from this charity show would help. They have a scheme wherein one could sponsor a patient, a worthy cause, which depending on the patient could cost between Rs.1200 to 1500 per month.

She said that anyone in need of more information about PDSK could call her at 080 2333 2668. They could also contact Ms. Ameeta Patel, President at 080 2660 3116 or Ms. Shuba Dasa, Vice President at 080 2361 6110.

Actually the Idea for this charity show came about from an earlier program Tara had organised a while ago. Tara caught this bollywood bug in Bangkok and luckily for her Desimagik who had performed in Bangakok are situated in Bengaluru. Tara approached Rajini Seetharam (Dolly for us!) with a proposal for a program where seniors in her age group would perform along with a few young artists from Desimagik as an experiment. I believe Dolly went along with the idea just to humor Tara!

The experiment was well received and I remember asking Tara at that time 'Now what?'. She said, 'We could do charity shows! It will cost less than a full fledged Desimagik show and with a few sponsors we could help a few social service organizations and we could also entertain seniors who are unable to attend'.

I admit to being a bit lukewarm about Tara singing Bollywood music, but I am glad that she persisted with her idea with her usual zeal and Saturday's program was a grand success. The house was more than full! A number of our friends and relatives supported us by buying the donors passes! A few of them got us sponsors as well. More than we had hoped.

We would like to thank R.T. Kumar for the artistically designed donor passes. And Dolly for her total commitment to make this program memorable. In fact she was injured just a few hours before the program due to a freak accident but was there even though she was in pain. And of course our dear friends Raji and Lakshminarayan who encouraged Tara as usual to go for it! We know we can always depend on Lakshmi to get sponsors for a good cause! Special Thanks also to Hari, Mamta, Kanchana and Nandini, the younger generation, for their support as well.

On a personal level being there was very poignant for us as we were constantly reminded of Prahlad who is no more with us. Tara and I, Raji and Lakshmi have such wonderful memories of our Pune days together with Mayura and Prahlad.

Later, we were witness to the changes caused by Parkinson's
when we visited them in Bangalore. Prahlad was mentally very strong and never showed his frustration and would be his usual self; a considerate and a gracious person. But, I am also reminded of one visit where the effect of his medicine had worn off and it was very tough for me to see him suffer.

I asked Mayura later, 'How do you manage such moments'. I can never forget what she said: 'Normally he is very positive and very courageous, but there are moments when he cannot get over his frustration and he takes it out on me! After all he is human!' I then asked her 'How do you take it yourself'. She replied 'I take it as Tapasya'. It is remarkable that she still does this penance for other victims of Parkinson's.

On our last visit a few months before he passed away, he wanted Tara to sing and he heard her with his eyes closed. The image has never left me and it felt good that Tara was singing to help many more thus afflicted with Parkinson's.

I have requested Mayura to tell us the story of her life as she faced Parkinson's and saw the changes in Prahlad both physically and mentally. He was very handsome, a model in his younger days for Binny's and I remember the story he told me once. He visited Russia while he was working with Alfa Laval and the Russians thought he was Raj Kapoor and refused to believe him when he said he was not.

Mayura has said she will try and write. I hope she does. It is a story which she, her son Venkat and his wife Vidya could tell us. I am sure it will help a lot of people who are victims of PD.

Here are a few pictures of the very enjoyable evening and I hope to add a few clips of these talented youngsters the next time I blog about them.

Krupa did a charming job as the compere of the show.
Sparkling Smriti was her smiling best.

Nachiket was intense and mellow.
Satish was as energetic as ever.
Tara was at her melodius best.
For a change Satish was standing still!
Indira was as cool as ever!
We had some lovely audience
Tara profusely thanks all those who supported this program .
You can see the young back benchers having a great time.
Distinguished guests.
Friends and relatives. That is Mamta standing there:-)

The finale'. Nice to see Mayura smile!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In fond memory of their mothers': Part Two

Part two begins with Bina (Indira Rao) speaking about her Grandmother Seetha Srirangachar. Followed by a small clip of her grand mother playing on the violin. Bina then introduces her mother, Vatsala Raghunath and Raghu (Lt. Gen Dr. D. Raghunath, Retd.) compliments his wife for keeping up with her music in spite of the constant moves due to his transfers.

Hope you enjoy the clips!
An old picture of Vatsala and her mother Sita.

Bina introduces her grand mother.

A clip of carnatic music on the violin played by Seetha Srirangachar

Bina talks of her mother very lovingly!

Raghu complimenting his wife:-)

Clips of Vatsala's concert

She concludes the concert in Raag Bhairavi