Thursday, 31 May 2007

A THOUGHT

Came across a thought-provoking phrase this morning. It was pasted on the glass counter of a medical store. Here's how it went -


"THE WORLD IS IN SO MUCH TURMOIL,
NOT BECAUSE OF THE VIOLENCE OF BAD PEOPLE
BUT BECAUSE OF THE SILENCE OF GOOD PEOPLE...."

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

LIFE AS A HYBRID....


A Hybrid? Whazzat?...you might ask.Well a hybrid is someone who'se parents belong to different religious or linguistic communitites or ethnicities. In our country, this might apply to people who come from different religions, castes and states as well. Mixed breed as many might jokingly say. There are quite a lot of hybrids in our nation of 1.2 billion, its just that not too many people are aware of it. In my opinion, I don't even think it should really be important to know this aspect of anyone's background. Anyways...what's an average Hybrid's life like? Read on to be enlightened.


What makes me a hybrid? Well, my dad is a Manglorean Catholic. My mom was a hybrid herself - her dad was a Nair, i.e a Keralite Brahmin, who served in the army. Naani was an Andhra army nurse. She was born a Protestant. So if you look at me, I have all of South India in my blood, except of course Tamil blood. Read through again if you've lost track(I always manage to confuse people with this interesting piece of info, hehe).


You'll also consider me lucky to be able to learn 3 diferent languages,viz Konkani, Telegu and Malayalam, right? Truth is I know none of the above languages. Now, now, it was'nt really my fault - me and my siblings were born in Kuwait, where my mom and dad worked, and where they met, married and conceived us. I studied there till the 3rd grade. Since our grandparents were back home in India, and we all lived in Kuwait, mom and dad conversed with each other in English and Hindi. So these were, and continue to be the only languages we converse in at home.


When we moved to India in 1990, we did get exposed to our mum's Telugu and Dad's Konkani, thanks to the relatives we got in touch with. But somehow we, atleast I, could'nt learn enough of those languages. So, although I can safely say that I can understand what's being said to me in Telugu and Konkani, I really can't reply in the same language. The only sentences I've managed to learn are "Konkani Ullonk Ye na makaa" and "Naaku Telugu Raadu" which translate into "I can't speak Konkani/Telugu." Smart move, aint it?. But thankfully, I won't feel lost if someone speaks to me in Telugu or Konkani.


Being born in Kuwait, we were naturally exposed to Arabic as a subject in school. I learnt Arabic in the 2nd and 3rd grade, which really was'nt much, coz all I remember from those days today is the first lesson we had, and the arabic numerals from 1 to 10. I still remember my first day at school in Mumbai in the 3rd grade, when our Marathi teacher Mrs.Dandekar asked me to stand up and read from the textbook, and all I did was wail loudly because Marathi was an alien language to me and I could'nt understand a word of what I was reading. My Marathi has improved over time, and today, although I might not be fluent in the language, I definitely can have a proper conversation. Can't say the same about Arabic though.


All said and done, I still look at being a hybrid as a blessing. Why? Being hybrid has shown me different colours and flavours of cultures, languages and religions. It has shown me how different they are, and yet how all of them serve a common purpose - to hold people together, as one group, as one family, as one unit and one force. It has shown me the real meaning of unity in diversity. The fact that we are a happy family inspite of the linguistic and community differences shows that love and bonds transcend boundaries. I have learnt to respect all religions. I've visited many places of worship. I've learnt to respect people's faiths and the fact that after all, we are all one. I've learnt to accept differences and have developed an interest in various religions and doctrines. Tried learning new languages. In doing so, I noticed that many of these differences are linked in some way or the other. Learnt how to read Gujarati (thanks to colleagues in office and also owing to its close proximity to the Hindi Devanagri script). Having made friends from different communities - Bengali, Marwadi, Sindhi, Punjabi. Kashmiri, etc, and being exposed to their cultures has taught me a lot. It's a learning experience, and the experience is inexhaustible.


The one real thing that I've learnt, and that encompasses everything I've learnt, is that we are all the same, its just the colour we are shaded in that is different, pretty much like the rainbow. This is what being of mixed parentage has imbibed in me. Hope to continue this tradition while starting my own family. :)

Thursday, 17 May 2007

UNITED WE STAND ???


"Oye, Hum PUNJABI hain, baakiyon ki tarah darte nahi hain"

"Of course we don't eat Chicken. We're pure Brahmins. How can YOU PEOPLE eat non-veg? Chee."

"How come you Don't drink? Are'nt You Catholic?"

"Tum us 'Kaafir' Se nikaah karna chahti ho? Allah ka khauf nahi hai kya?"

"Tum Nepali ho na? Meghalaya se? Haan toh Nepali hi to ho, ek hi baat hai"

"Nice fellow..But he's a non-catholic na?

How many times have we come across such statements? I bet atleast a dozen times each day, whether in our own lives, from people, whether we know them or not, or on television. Have'nt you heard such comments in your school or college classroom, or in street fights, or from your best friend. Our Bollywood blockbusters always have a comical or 'friendly' supporting actor who always happens to be either a proud JAT or a Tamil, or a Muslim, or someone from a particular community, and he or she almost always is shown to proclaim that he's superior to the rest of us, just by virtue or being born in his community. "We're the best, down with the rest" he declares bluntly.

Its nice to be proud of your lineage. Every culture, especially the communities in our country, have a history that goes way back in the past. They have carried the baton of family traditions, way of life, cuisine, music, dances, and other values through the ages. Keeping a culture alive through the ages is no mean task. It definitely makes it worth being proud about.

That many of the traditions practiced then are still practised today goes to show how strong the bind is within the communities. It is these traditions and a sense of belonging and identity that binds members of communities together. It definitely makes it something worth being proud about.

But to proclaim that your lineage makes you superior to the rest is absolutely unacceptable. It is nothing but jingo-communalism. Why is it that people tend to forget that every community has had a history? And why cant people accept that though their communities might have a great heritage, there might be some aspects that are not worthy of being proud about. Every community has its stars and its blots. No doubt we ought to be proud of our cultural heritage, but at the same time we ought to learn how to respect the other's cultural heritage as well.

Our nation is a unique fabric into which pathches of various cultures have been sewn. Each of us are unique, and together we make our national fabric unique. We all together lend our nation an esssence, a fragrance that is so very special and different from any other nation. We are all so diverse and yet we're able to co-exist.

Almost 60 years have passed since we gained independance. But can we really honestly say that we have gained freedom and equality. We have just gained freedom from the British, only to become slaves or our respective Samaaj's and Kaum's. Were'nt those 60 years enough for us to learn to treat everyone else as equal? Why does it so happen that when a person from another state chooses to migrate to another state of his OWN MOTHERLAND for employment, he is frowned upon and sometimes even beaten up or killed for daring to commit such a 'crime'. Sons of the soil they say...does just being born in a particular state make you the owner of the whole state? The British, when they left India, did not break India into too many states, but since they've left, we have kep tearing our national fabric into smaller and smaller pieces, on linguistic, communal, and other such lines. Even today people are identified on the basis of their religion, and within their religions on the basis of caste. It is a 'SIN' to even think of marrying a person from another caste, let alone another religion, no matter how good or mature they both might be or how adjusting they might be. Its already the 21st century, and India seems still frozen in the medieval ages. And we still ask ourselves why we lag behind the other nations?

We ought to change ourselves. Simply assembling together on Independence and Republic Day and announcing "Hum Sab Ek Hain", only to say "Hum JAT hain, tum Madrasi Ho" later on stinks of hypocrisy. We have become a nation of hypocrites. When will we ever look beyond our religions and castes, and other irrelevant differences, and strive to work hand-in-hand for the progress and glory, not of our regions, but of our nation as a whole? How many more nations do we seek to create out of our motherland? When will we stop looking down on our brethren and learn to accept our differences?

The rest of the world has already become cosmoploitan. Look at where USA is today? They too have cultural diversities. People of Italian, Irish, British, African and other origins live together as equals. All have joined hands to work towards a goal, which is not regional but for the nation as a whole. When will we learn and live the same way? It all depends on how we, the new generation choose to take it ahead. The future lies in our hands. We can make or break it.

Only time will tell, if our flag remains a tricolor, or ends up as a color-shade catalogue of a paint company!!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

DEAR MR. RIOTER


DEAR MR RIOTER,
So you're at it again Mr.Rioter. We're really amazed at the way you're able to get provoked even at the drop of a pin. Truly amazing, the happenings that force a 'sensitive' soul like you to pick up stones, or swords, or anything that you can lay your hands on, and simply attack anything that comes in sight. Whether its Hritik kissing Ash in Dhoom 2, or Richard Gere kissing Shilpa, or an artist expressing his thoughts in an abstract manner, or a writer propounding his theory on what 'must have' really happened in the life of a revered king of the 15th century, or how a religious community propounds its religion. You're always there. What alertness! What sensitivity! What bravery!


So here you are in action once again, this time because there's a new 'Guru', and he chose to hold one of his pravachans dressed like the founder of your religion. Oh, how hurtful! How dare he liken himself to your Dharmguru? He needs to be taught a lesson, doesnt he? So you let all know why you're 'angry' and 'agitated' by speaking to the press. There you were, we saw you smiling, laughing and giggling like teenagers while you burnt the offendor's effigies, garlanded his statues and slapped his posters. You even got hold of a poor donkey who knew nothing about your offendor, and is not even remotely related to him, and you garland the poor animal and hit it.

And we all see how you're enjoying it, cause you're all laughing and guffawing. What seriousness!
Suddenly you realise that no one's taking you seriously. The police has decided to sideline this 'major crisis' you have brought to their notice, and have instead decided to spend their time on 'trivial' issues like rape, murder, loot, etc. This is outrageous. How can they ignore you this way? Even the leaders have decided that to give importance to your issue is a waste of time. You ought to be angry, don't you?

So what do you next, Dear Rioter? You pick up stones and stone anything that comes in sight. Some of your brethren even manage to wield their swords and pistols. We all know you're angry now, that offendor probably does need to be taught a lesson. But hey, we see that you've decided to get some practice for the real thing by attacking public and private property. You've gone to schools and colleges and hit the teachers and principals, forcing them to shut office for the day, or maybe a week. The kids probably needed a holiday since ages, and maybe they'll look towards you as heroes now. You've evn attacked hospitals and ambulances. Well, maybe its because you feel that you're all gonna get lathi-charged and they might put you in these very ambulances for treatment, and you feel that's against your 'shaan' to use ambulance services. What foresight, What heroism!

But let us interrupt your moment of pride, Dear Mr Rioter. We just want to ask you, where do you disappear when we really need you? You're there when consenting adults kiss, but where are you when rapes are committed? Where do you go when a politician's spoilt son goes on a rampage, looting, shooting, groping and raping? Where are you when government offices indulge in red-tapism? We admire your energy and enthusiasm. Why don't some of you join the police and armed forces and try making a difference? I'm sure that if you had used the same energy to do some social work, the world would have been a little less unhappy.

But we guess you might not even be able to read this after all. So this letter might actually be a lost cause. So we're looking forward to see you in action again in the future. And knowing how 'sensitive' you are, we know, that day is not too far off....till then, bye!

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