A Diwali gift

Diwali is one occasion when people let loose their wallet and pull all stops to gift their near and loved ones with presents they would cherish, and cost really isn’t a barrier to such offerings of the heart. And this Diwali, Shreya decided to present her lovely grandma with something memorable and why would she not do it? After all, she just got her first pay and would want to splurge it on someone who is so very special to her. She has always been the darling of her Granny and now it’s her turn to celebrate their relationship in a befitting way.

“Granny, I would want to present you such a gift this Diwali that you would admire it for many Diwalis to come and here you have an option to choose one from the two. Tell me, what would I present you, a Blackberry or an Apple”

“Apple or Blackberry for Diwali? Darling, we give sweets to each other on this occasion. And talking about sweets, I have a whole list of my favourites… From the juicy Gulab Jamuns to the crispy Soan Papidis and the saucy Jeelabis . And in our times, we use to make all of them at home unlike these days where you just lift the gift-wrapped stuff from a shop. But at this age I might need to take insulin shot before I could even take a look at these.”

“No, Grandma, nothing doing. I would present you nothing less than an Apple or a Blackberry .Come on Granny, which one would you like to have”

 “Oh dear one, I would prefer an apple for a blackberry any day.  A bite of an apple never let’s you down to cheer up unlike the blackberry which has an obnoxious touch and feel about it. By merely smelling an apple, I can even tell you where the stuff was grown… But how on earth you want me to cherish these fruits for the rest of my years… And I hope you are not planning to give me plastic ones….everything is plastic these days you see… the lamps, the flowers, the smiles….” 

“Oh, you thought I would be that stupid to present the sweetest and the prettiest of all the grannies in the world with a tiny fruit? I mean the Apple Ipad or the Blackberry mobile, Granny….. Okay let me make the choice for you….  I would buy you the latest version of Apple Ipad and I bet you would love to have it.”

“ Apple Ipad ?”

“Yeah an IPad…and you know, in an Ipad you don’t require a mouse to open a window?”

“I anyways don’t need mouse to open the window. In fact, your grandpa used to catch rats and mouse and throw them out of the window with his hands…on to the fields”

“I mean the Ipad is all touch-screen, Granny…. you can run and operate any application by merely touching on the screen at the right places. Even a child can work, nay play, on an Ipad and it is so much fun. It’s the lightest tablet around”

“Oh, thanks for reminding about the tablet, my sweetheart… I forgot to have my BP tablet this morning ….it is so light and small, I always misplace it. I almost lost the tablet given by the doctor for the virus infection…. It was so tiny, you see”

“Oh Granny you need not have to worry about virus infections any longer and that is absolutely great news! This Ipad tablet will never get a virus. You can download any stuff from the internet and it will automatically be virus-screened which would mean you can safely surf the net and browse any site without the machine getting infected”

“Surf for the nets?  It is never safe. It is always just dry dusting for the nets and they will last for generations. Your grandpa once washed the imported nylon mosquito nets presented on our wedding with surf and entire stuff got torn down to shreds.  If you want, you can put them under the morning sun to make them bugs-free.

“In the Ipad, there is absolutely no chance of any bugs either, Grandma. It is so finely designed that bugs in its software is a definite impossibility”.

“ Soft wears will never have bugs darling. It is always the heavy woollens which are the breeding grounds for the bugs. And for woollens you can safely use surf but it has to be washed only in cold water. Otherwise the designs would just fade off”

“ This Ipad is a design master-piece which would remain a connoisseur ’s choice for years  and just won’t fade-off in a hurry. Its smart cover is as beautiful as the machine itself and transforms into a stand when you open it. It is sleek, trendy and comes in hues of colours. You can show all your applications as icons in it and they will be displayed on the screen. With just a touch on the icon, you can download your favourite music, movies, books or anything that you want from the scores of app stores… Isn’t that amazing….”

“Why do I need to download these myself when I can get them home delivered from the Appu’s store downstairs. His store has all these stuff and much more and the delivery time is zero that it reaches our home just in a flash”.

“That’s the only problem Granny. You cannot run a flash application on an Ipad. But the other features in it more than compensates for this little glitch. You can connect to wi-fi, check your mails, chat with other grannies and even see them live on the facebook…”

“ I am bored of seeing them face-to-face everyday and now you want me to have a whole book with their faces?  Oh I only want to hold my lord in my memory.  ”

“With the kind of memory that an Ipad has, you can hold the lord and all his creations in it. The Ipad is the final parting gift to humans from the great Steve Jobs”

“I am not yet ready to receive a parting gift and still have some more jobs to do. And instead of Ipad, why don’t you gift me a padlock with which I could secure my things as I travel to my native village?”.

“What an idea Granny?”.

“No baby, just thinking different.”

 Yours

Narayanan

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October 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm 8 comments

The Power of 32

Indian government, in all its wisdom, has recently discovered that an earning of Rs. 32 per day is all that it takes for a person to be above the poverty line, the great economic divider below which about half of the country’s population perpetually belong.  With 32 rupees, the country’s top-most policy makers tell us , a person can have three nutritious meals a day, can adequately cover his physical frame with a sufficiently long piece of cloth, travel to his place of work, meet his medical expenses, if any, and also can ensure a roof over his head! This counsel of wise men asserts that Rs.32 has all the power of purchase and to deliver these minimum essentials required to classify a person above poverty. And these are wise men entrusted with the divine responsibility to chalk out the collective destiny of over 1.2 billion people, so they just cannot be wrong.  It is another matter that even a street lumpen would display more realism in his estimates but an official figure culled out after a rigorous process of data sampling, price analysis, study of inflationary pressures and statistical modelling can scarcely be faulted. Statistics would have been clubbed together with white and black lies, but this Rs. 32 per day formula of the state has, for a fact, accomplished a stupendous task of  effectively pulling out at least 32 crore (320 million) people out of poverty- on paper, that is.

But 32 is no ordinary number that it does not have the power to achieve this herculean task. Look at it mathematically, for instance. It is the number that displays few astonishing properties that qualifies it to be bestowed with amazing capabilities.  Along with being a number that can be represented as an exponential of 2, which is 25=32, the number can also be expressed as the sum of three different numbers raised to the power of the number itself, that is 11 + 22 + 33 = 32. And that is just not all about this number. 32 is also the sum of two different numbers, each raised to the power of the other, that is, 24 + 42 = 32. And 32 is also the smallest two-digit number whose square is a four digit number (32 x 32 = 1024 where as 31 x 31 is 961, which is only a three-digit number). It is for its mathematical qualities that 32 figures as an important “byte”, an information storage unit in computers.

The uniqueness of number 32, though very significant in mathematics, is not limited to it but extends to many other fields as well. When the number of pieces in a game of chess is 32, the number of squares, both of white and black in a chessboard is also 32 each. The spokes in a bicycle wheel is usually 32 and the number of pages in a comic magazine is essentially 32 or multiples thereof. In the human anatomy, while the count of vertebrae in the spine that keeps the human body erect is 32, the total tally of teeth that is found in an adult mouth is again 32.  In music, a 32 count refers to the number of beats or pulses that go in one phrase, an extremely useful unit in dance choreography; a 32 stringed guitar is an amazing piece of art as well as a versatile musical instrument. In Indian tradition, there are 32 types of Shiva lingams, each bestowing specific boon to the faithful worshipper while Gautama Buddha is regarded to have had “32 signs of a great man” the references to which is found throughout the Buddhist texts. And that’s not all, some of the greatest men in history seemed to have just lived for about 32 years but accomplished Himalayan tasks that would take ordinary mortals millions of years to achieve and one of them is Adi Sankara, the great exponent of Advaitic philosophy. Another extolled soul, Jesus Christ is said to have lived just around that age.  Maybe these are good enough reasons why the mandarins of power chose this number to segregate the haves from the have-nots.

But the market dynamics work on cold additions of numbers than on the special features of any of them. With Rs. 32 you can possibly buy half a loaf of bread along with half a litre of milk and eat and drink them raw throughout the day, because you wouldn’t be left with any money either to warm the milk or to toast the bread. Or else, with Rs. 32, you can eat thrice and live on a few pieces of chapatti, a morsel of rice to the accompaniment of few vegetable crumbs and a pinch of salt. And if you feel these does not come anywhere near the daily calorie need of 1200 to survive, you could eat an egg but then would have to forgo a meal in return. In the event you succeed to keep the body and soul together with these bare intakes, you will have zero money either to cover the body thus preserved or to protect it under a shelter.  Whatever are the features of the number 32, Rs.32 proves to be truly a pittance which can just keep you breathing but ask our policy makers and they would tell you that if you are surviving you indeed are not poor. Because in their scheme of things, poor has no right to survive!

This numerical pegging is the highest insult that a country can inflict on to their deprived masses and when such a humiliation is administered by the democratically elected polity, it betrays an utter lack of sensitivity to the plight of the poor and an appalling state of denial to the sub-human level of their existence. And to brand those who manage to eke out a few mouthfuls a day as sufficiently endowed with the wherewithal for a decent living is to make a mockery of their impoverishment and a blatant stripping of their human dignity. This callousness is symbolic of a deeper malady of a society where people living in patches of prosperity are totally oblivious to the indignation of people spread out in vast swamps of land around them – a sure recipe for disaster.

It is indeed a pity that even after 64 (2 x 32) years of independence, India still grapples with issue of poverty in such myopic way and one would only wish that it does not take another exponential years of 32 to finally eradicate the malaise in its truest sense.

Yours

Narayanan

P.S. For those western readers of this blog, Rs. 32 would roughly convert to about 65 US cents.

September 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm 14 comments

Teaching lessons

In his eternal quest for truth, bliss and for inner peace, man set on foot to many a pilgrimage that stretched from the tranquil mountain peaks to placid river banks, from silent sylvan forests to the barren hill tops and then on to the serene expanse of the choicest ocean shores.   And in those pristine spots where mother earth spreads a majestic panorama of beauty and calmness, where nature remain untouched by the exploits of human adventures, many a wise men sat and contemplated on the deeper mysteries of life and gave expressions to profound philosophical thoughts. On to these glorious lineage belonged a  Adi Sankara and a Gutama Buddha,  a Vyasa and a Valmiki and umpteen number of saints and sages who, from time to time, nourished and nurtured the eternal springs of spiritual wisdom for humanity to draw joy and sustenance from.  In these venerated places came up temples and monasteries, ashrams and viharas that beckoned seekers of truth far and wide and enveloped them with an aura of divine benedictions.  Along with being powerful searchlights for spiritual knowledge, many of them soon developed as centres of educational excellence where finer subjects of human interest, ranging from empirical sciences to abstract arts, were studied and taught and the contribution of these portals of learning towards the evolution of human mind has remained unsurpassed.

Of these extolled locations, Kasi and Rameswaram stand out as twin brothers and a visit to one of them remains incomplete without a visit to the other. While Kasi, or Banaras as it is otherwise called, is situated on the banks of the Ganges river flowing rapidly with the mingled waters of the Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati, Rameswaram stands quietly as an eternal witness to the turbulent waves of the Bay of Bengal. When a dip in the Ganges at Banaras is considered to wash off the accumulated sins of many births, a plunge in the sea waters at Rameswaram is said to have the most purifying effect to the soul. And when an unending stream of elevated souls find fulfilment in the ablution of Kasi Vishwanath, it is the Lord himself, as Rama, who paid obeisance to the deity at Rameswaram. But both personify the universal formless aspect of divinity symbolised by Shiva in the Linga form and both assure a sincere seeker, liberation from the illusionary world of bondages. They attract devotees in their millions and figure prominently in the list of our ancient and sacred cities.

Rohit Kumar

And it is in that wonderful city of Banaras that I met Rohit Kumar, a teenaged, thin framed but a very jovial boy who works as a sales person in a shop that sells the famed silk sarees of Banaras. Rohit Kumar, when he is not unfolding and folding sarees, also doubles as a city guide for the visitors to the shop and he gladly lent his services of taking me along with my family around Kasi. “This is Hanuman Temple” and “Here  Kedar ghat” Rohit would insist on giving his city counsel in ragtag English and we enjoyed every bit of his conversation. “Morning here no food, evening food” Rohit advises me on the availability of street foods in Banaras only in the evenings. “The price of silk Rs.800 last year, same Rs.1600 this year” laments Rohit on the doubling of the silk prices in just one year affecting the saree business in the city.

As I got curious of Rohit’s obsession to speak in English even to a person who understands and responds in the native tongue and asked him the reason for this passion, I was narrated a most heinous story of how the aspiration of a budding school kid could be mercilessly plucked, crushed and destroyed by the insensitiveness of a school teacher.  Rohit would go to school with his English Grammar work complete but his teacher would thrash him for doing them all wrong. With illiterates as his parents, Rohit had no way to check his answers at home but had the fire to learn well and the willingness to put in effort. But the teacher, instead of correcting and teaching him right, would continue to humiliate the young boy in front of the whole class with whipping canes and abusive words. With this regular ill treatment, Rohit’s will to continue in the school reached a breaking point and one day he decided to leave the school, for good. “One day hitting, two day hitting, three day hitting and…” continued Rohit in a voice filled with deep anguish”and I decided no more school”. Rohit ended up as an unskilled helper in a saree shop, earning Rs.50/- a day with no scope for any further education and a promising future in sight. But he still carries a fire in the belly to learn and to grow.

But in the other city of Rameswaram, there was another teacher and another boy, and this boy had a totally different story to tell. The teacher, Mr. Siva Subramania Iyer, would lovingly explain to the children the concepts of science and also give practical demonstrations and make them understand those concepts. One day Mr. Siva Subramania Iyer explained to his class children the science behind the bird’s flight. He drew pictures of birds flying on the board, explained how birds created lift and thus could fly and why birds flew in formations and other intricate details of flight. Many of the students did not understand but Siva Subramania Iyer is the one who would ensure that his children learn and learn well. He took them to the sea shores of Rameswaram, made them observe the birds in motion, make note of their formations, the way they flap their wings to fly and how they bend their bodies to change direction. This demonstration kindled a fire in one of the boys to learn more about flights as his life mission. The boy studied hard and well, got into a prestigious engineering college and took up Aeronautical Engineering. He later went on to head the country’s space mission, won many laurels, got the highest civilian award of the land, the Bharat Ratna, and ultimately became the president of the country. That boy was APJ Abdul Kalam.

Oh what a contrast! One teacher made a gem of a person out of an inquisitive boy and another extinguished the fire to learn in a curious child through abusive behaviour.

Aarti at Ganges

As the historical city of Banaras silently gazes the incessant flow of the Ganges below, it still awaits for its Siva Subramania iyer to light the lamp of hope in its children.

Yours

Narayanan

September 25, 2011 at 8:17 am 12 comments

Forty something

The tightened belt struggles hard to rein in his ever expanding waistline while the protruding tummy makes him lose his buttons at periodic intervals. The pitch dark hairs are slowly giving way to sparsely spread strands of silver as the once piercing eyesight now demands spectacles to decipher the fine prints.  There is a noticeable lax in the strides which are no longer brisk nor breezy and the snail-paced cruising of the car is a pale shadow of his famed formula styled racing of yesteryears.  A compulsive devourer of anything that is eatable now studies the fat content of the bottled lime water before taking the first sip and also keeps an antacid tablet handy, just in case the citrus juice triggers a bout of acidity in the digestive tract.  And when the “once-upon-a-time”  daring, experimenting and risk-taking individual now craves for stability and shows an overarching desire to maintain the status quo, you bet the guy is now in the forty something years of his earthly existence.

And if the guy is the one who is genetically predisposed to shed his locks early on, a visit to the salon during the forties would prove to be a very exercising and also an expensive experience. With a very limited supply of widely dispersed strands, the barber, nay the hairstylist, would need to deploy all his hairdo skills to reasonably conceal the shining pate and the money the person need to shell out for this delicate job would be inversely proportional to the density of the tuft on his head. And even after all the expertise of the tress were put to lavish use, if he is still dissatisfied to that modicum of a dark cover, he is sure to be gently reminded that one cannot possibly hide an elephant under a mud pot. With the add-on service of a discounted facelift massage that promises to drop years from one’s face, the guy definitely would look poorer, if not younger.

The waning of the youth and the advent of the middle age is announced through well-calibrated indications that start with the subtle whispers of the occasional bodily aches to the more pronounced reflections in the mirror, to the loud proclamations of the younger people around who spot the phenomenon and seldom forget to remind the guy of its vital signs.  Along with exaggerating the mild physical changes that the body display, they also highlight the antique value of his two-year-old mobile, look at his glittering Rolex watch with an archaeological curiosity and keenly study the contours of his well-fitting pants as if it was a costume wear of a period film. For them he is the representative of a bygone era, reminiscent of an age untouched by the liberating influence of Gucci, Messi or 3G.  The guy would be pleased when a teenager, considering his saltish-pepper crown, extends a courtesy to drop him to the nearby store in the bike, but when a stunning beauty in her early twenties, displaying a sizzling figure and a terrific attitude, passes by and wishes him “Nameste Uncle” in reverential tone, his heart bleeds and bleeds profusely.

But he is not the one who would take things lying down and let the world move ahead while he gazes at it like an ancient monument. He picks up the trendiest wears in the town, checks in to the most happening places in the town, checks-out the latest fashion accessories in vogue and chills at the coolest spots. He brushes up his lingo with the latest Facebook idioms, plugs-in to the latest music from the apps store and joins the neighbourhood gym to tuck in the tummy and to tone-up the muscles. He is now seen more often in t-shirts and in skin-hugging jeans and has, of late, acquired an additional bounce to his steps. At forty, the guy has become damn naughty!

But he soon realises that forties is not all about greying hairs and slowing lifestyles. It is also a spectacular reminder of the deepening life experiences and the blossoming of wisdom that accompany it. The bespectacled face symbolizes a keen intellect sharpened by years of scholarly pursuits and each silver hair represents the maturing of the person achieved but only through years of grounding in the university called Life. The treasured old gadgets signifies the value that we need to attach to products that truly serve our purpose and not be carried away by every passing fads while, the balancing and stabilizing approach towards life is an anchor sheet to still life’s occasional tempests.

Forties indeed are the finest years of our lives!

Yours

Narayanan

September 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm 9 comments

Fast, the new fad!

One of the most endearing scenes from my childhood years is the site of the vernacular calendar hung strategically at a wall in our house such that all glances fell on it very easily. The calendar, called the “Thadhi Calendar” in Tamil, had a picture of one of the innumerable deities of the Hindu pantheon and 365 tiny tear-sheets stapled on it from which my mother would tear off one every dawn as part of her morning religious ritual. Each of these sheets would carry data on the positions and movements of the celestial bodies during the course of the day that could make the most exhaustive Wikipedia post on the subject look very pedestrian. And to decipher those plethora of fine-printed almanac information calls for a training in astrology, religion and mathematics that only a school of zealously guarded traditional upbringing could offer. The monthly highlight of the calendar for the family is the “Ekadesi”, the eleventh day of the lunar month, the day on which my grandmother would invariably observe a fast.

Ekadesi, literally translated, would mean “one plus the tenth day” and the preparation for the event starts well on the” Desami”, the tenth day itself.  My mother would grind the wheat very coarse and soak it overnight which would form the main ingredient of the grandmother’s frugal meal once she decides to call off her fast well into the night of the Ekadesi day. Granny would spend the best part of the waking hours on that day in rituals and in contemplation and once tired of them, would resort to loud reading of some religious texts. And with night falling, she would partake her meal of sweetened wheat gruel and share a portion of it with all in the house. Everyone in the family would relish the unique recipe and would keenly look forward to the next Ekadesi! Grandmother continued this fasting austerity month after month, for years and decades and she believed it to be her sure-shot passport for a place in the heavens.  Fasting was thus a spiritual exercise for her, a tool for communion with the divine. 

What is essentially an austerity to please the gods, fasting, in the hands of Anna, morphed into a coercing technique to ruthlessly bring the “powers that be” to the knees.  And when Anna fasted, the government initially fumed, then fumbled, quickly stumbled and at last stooped and kneeled in front of a septuagenarian whose towering moral authority was too much of a force for the authority of the state to handle.  Cheering at its discomfort were the disempowered people of a nation, long lost their collective voice to tame their so-called representatives and felt humiliated at  the insignificance of their democratic participation that remain confined to its little duty of putting a little mark, on a little piece of paper  standing in a little booth- once every five years.  When the government became exhausted with each day of Anna’s fasting, the people knew they have discovered a new weapon to regain the right to script their destiny.  But when a new weapon is invented, it is only to be expected that it be tested in different scenarios under varying conditions so that its universal validity and effectiveness is scientifically established.  

Students could now think of fasting if their teacher gives them less than distinction marks and just in case distinction is not good enough, they still could fast to have the right to take guide books to the exam hall so that they could get nothing less 100%. And if even with 100% they still don’t find their names in the college admission list, they could again fast, either to get a seat or to make their score 101%.  At home, teenage children could fast and pressurise their parents to give them decent enough money to be able to take their fiancee to a five-star dinner and as SMS becomes passé, a day-long fast may not be a bad idea to speed up the next level mobile purchase so that they could video-chat with their friends, all night long.

In the hands of housewives, fasting could assume more lethality than a Kalashnikov in the hands of a Jihadi.  They could fast, not to reduce their waistline, but to compel their husbands to shell out a bomb of money at the month-end to buy that fancy diamond stud while the poor guy carries on with the same razor blade for weeks on end. And if that is not proof enough of its effectiveness, they could still try the technique to ensure that their mothers-in-law do not visit them for the next five years.

Oh, I just realised that I have been fasting all night long!  Let me break-fast.

Yours

Narayanan

August 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm 6 comments

The Joy of Resurrection

“Lesser affections diminish with separation; greater ones are enhanced with it.

The wind that blows out a candle flame also fans a forest fire!”

The crowning hair swinging gently with the wafting breeze strokes a divine romance in the heart’s deepest recess as the pair of exquisite velvet feet, peeping out alternatively of the sweeping silken gown, ignites an innocent longing to caress and to kiss them.  The bewitching smile playing on the vermilion lips dissolves a million woes while the gesturing hand suggests to hold the entire cosmos in its palm. And as the lord glides his way to the midst of his darling children; the gods above and the denizens below stood transfixed by that ethereal beauty which could have but only descended direct from the heavens. Clasping their hands in the highest veneration for their beloved master, the beaming faces of the beatified thousands reflect an inner state that’s swimming in an ocean of bliss. The stretched hand that lovingly accepts the penned prayers and petitions, the gentle nod which reveals an all pervading omniscience, the tender cajole that transcends the cumulative affections of a zillion mothers, the soft whisper that instantaneously dissolves the stratified ignorance of many aeons- The regal pageantry of such supreme benedictions is a sight fit only for the Angels!  

If the physical charm of the avatar captivates the outer senses, the nectarine words that emanate from the depth of truth prompts an inner vision that beholds the manifested beauty within. Cascading rapids of musical verses and poetic eloquence, punctuated with scintillating tales and subtle humour, the Lord presents the highest spiritual wisdom in the simplest dialect so that mankind could marvel at the authority of its source, ruminate on the profundity of the words and rejoice in the truth of the message.   Gently awakening the slumbering humanity, the celestial voice reminds the glory of man’s true lineage and beacons to proclaim it as its rightful heirs. His words herald the extolled goal to be reached and the royal path to be traversed and instil a firm resolve to embark upon a journey that is sublime and yet so thrilling. And as the aspirant takes the few infant steps, the Lord looks on with motherly pride, showering the child with gifts of love and words of encouragement. Such is the grandeur of the Lord who walked upon the face of this earth.

 And when such an Avatar chooses to shed the mortal coil and establish itself in its formless essence, the multitudes despaired inconsolably in the thought that the anchor sheet of their lives is now forever snapped and the guiding light of their existence, ebbed out. Caught in the tempest of the grief, they fervently wished to feast their eyes with the beauty of that form just one more time and sought to make amends for their lapses, assuming it to be the reason for the master’s abrupt exit. They vowed to tread the royal road with renewed diligence, all for the sake to bring him back in their midst. But when the Lord decides to bring down the curtains to his earthly sojourn, the feverish laments of countless millions are too timid a force to change his will which shall prevail at all times and in all circumstances. But the physical attachment to the form made them feel orphaned as they reeled in the agony of his separation.

This separation is but an outward void that compelled his children to look for him deep within and as they did it, Alas! they found their master shining there in all his glory, drenching their very being in love and bliss! Just as the sun cannot be separated from its light, as the sugar cannot be devoid of its sweetness; the Lord and his creations are so inseparably interwoven that one has no existence without the other. For hasn’t he not reminded us that “I and you are one” and when that reality dawns on us we rejoice in his resurrection in our very hearts – for he is Truth, Bliss and Beauty- Sathyam, Shivam Sundaram!

 Narayanan

July 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm 3 comments

The Samurai people

Japan, a group of many islands in the Pacific Rim, is the land of the most enterprising, hard-working and disciplined people belonging to the Nipponese tribe. Short in physical stature, the contributions of the Japanese towards the progress of human race are nevertheless gigantic and touch all endeavours of human activity- from science to spirituality, from music to martial arts. The nation, often threatened by natural calamities and once ravaged by a nuclear holocaust, is also the birthplace for the most fertile and creative minds.  The ideas and ideals emanating from here have often transformed human thoughts and fuelled human progress and there isn’t a civilization that has remained immune to its defining influences.  The small Japanese cars are a rage the world over, its electronic and digital goods are house-hold essentials and its engineering expertise has created architectural marvels in far-off cities across the globe.  While an Ikebana is signature statement for a connoisseur in fine living, Kaizen today is a technique employed the world over for constant plan, process and product refinements, all originating from the land of the rising sun.

Such colossal achievements have naturally given the Japanese a very firm grip on global markets, economies and politics. We thus have today more Japanese multinational companies in the world than any other nation, have trillions of Yen invested in all major economies and Japan play a very crucial role in the geopolitics of our world.  And by virtue of these commending positions, it occupied a pride of place in the comity of nations until that fateful March afternoon when the earth beneath it shook violently and altered its topography and with it, its destiny, beyond recognition.  

The advanced technology of the Japanese ensured that the buildings the quake shook stood erect but the churning of the oceanic waters spelt catastrophe to the nation that is often complimented for it high level of disaster preparedness. And soon the monstrous waves breached their natural boundaries and engulfed vast swamps of land, bringing down and sweeping away in the fury all that came in their way- people, houses, vehicles, bridges, farms, ships and even aircrafts!  Finally when the waves retreated, what were left behind are huge masses of rubble with undistinguishable human bodies stuck beneath them, flames leaping across from a hundred blazing fires and the threat of many impending nuclear accidents. As the nation face multitudes of human tragedy, a thick dark cloud of despondency hangs over the country.

But Japanese are no ordinary people to wallow in desperation and lament over the untold cruelty that the nature has inflicted on them. They are the descendents of the “Samurai” who would face the gravest situation with undaunted courage and fight till their last breathe, not for their selfish ends but for the well-being of the society and of the nation. They are cowed down neither by the severity of the crisis nor by the enormity of the tasks ahead.  They are the warriors who are duty-bound to safe-guard the nation and uphold its honour and self-sacrifice is a natural instinct of every Japanese to achieve this goal.

This trait of the “Samurai” is in amble display as the nation struggles to find a grip of its multifaceted problems in the aftermath of the Tsunami. Scores of engineers and technicians, with utter disregard to their own personal safety, are battling it out at the various nuclear plants to minimise radiation levels and to re-start their operations. Thousands of volunteers are on the streets in biting cold, looking for survivors and providing succour to millions, again putting behind their own safely and the need for minimum personal comfort.  Many of these people are themselves shattered by the calamity and herein comes to fore the innate quality of putting the interest of the nation and its people first and foremost – the true characteristics of a “Samurai”.    

Neither the earthquake of magnitude “9” on the Richter was powerful enough to shake or even to jolt the fundamental character of stealthy resolve of the Japanese nor the 33 feet high tsunami forceful enough to wash away the very distinctive spirit of communion and comradely among them. Again, the subsequent multitude infernos that blazed off and reduced to ashes all that it touched was not thermal enough even to bruise the mighty towers of national pride and purpose nor was the lethal radiation that spewed out of the ravaged nuclear plants  penetrative enough to mutate the essential DNA of courage and industry of its people.

In the midst of all-round destruction and the prospect of a grim and hard life that lay ahead, it is the extraordinary sense of   discipline and self-restraint of average Japanese that evokes awe and admiration the world around.   He might be the one who lost all his dearest ones, whose home and belongings are turned to a heap of soaked rubble and the one to whom future stares blank – but he holds within himself the sorrows of grave personal loss and patiently waits in unending queues for his turn to get essential supplies. These are qualities not seen in lesser men and are a product of generations of idealism and again it is these qualities that erase any doubt in the minds of the world community on the capacity of the Japanese people to emerge out of this crisis.  This sentiment of faith in its people is loudly echoed in the fast regaining values of the Japanese stocks the world over.

The world is truly humbled by the valour of this exceptional human race.

Also read https://chapter18.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/the-great-indian-stitch-less-garment/

 Yours

Narayanan

March 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm 11 comments

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