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Archive for November, 2008

Terrorism- Making sense out of it


Bangalore, Ahemadabad, Surat, Jodhpur, Mumbai. 5 attacks in a year already. “Terror strikes Mumbai, again”, a 6th time. Why? I dont know the answer.. and the title of this post is no justification to what follows. But long ago, I’d learnt that sometimes what matters is the questions that we chose to ask. 

Why is life so vulnerable?

Why is there a growing indifference to death?

More than that, how have we become so accepting of injustice?

How can someone be so insane?

What motive or purpose drove the terrorists?

What do they want? land, money or power?

What is done to the suicide bombers by the masterminds to make them so?

What goes on in their heads as they carry out their plans?

How can anybody be remorseless?

What can we do so that our vulenerability is not thrown on our faces again and again?

Is there sense in blaming?

Why would any outfit attack Mumbai so outfront and force India to drastic measures?

What do they gain by this?

What will we do if someday it affects us and we cant ignore it anymore?

Please let me know of any more questions that you think of. But dont give me any answers.

I dont want to hear people saying, “kill all the terrorists!” “The police force is useless” “We should not leave even 1 guilty go scott free”. No answer that is going to lower us to the levels of those whom we are against. Neither do I want to know that the terrorists are insane, that there are religious connotations and that they are wrong and we are right. These are not answers. There’s more to terror attacks.. It cant be mindless violence. 

Terrorism (Arabic hirabah) = Publicly directed violence carried out by individuals or groups that has the effect of spreading fear, by preventing people from taking any safekeeping measures against physical or property damage. It is a capital offense, and is unlawful and punishable to target the public in ways that make it impossible for people to live safely. This is how its defined by The Islam Project.

Why do you think an outfit wants to kill innocent people? What do they believe in that is so strong and allows them to do so? What do we mean when we say militants? Who are these people? have we considered the fact that there can be political backings to this attack? That its not to make a mockery of our cities but maybe to provoke us against some others? As a human I can’t comprehend so much at one go. I also cant leave all faith in humanity, civility and intelligence that charcterise us as a race.

I’d like to add an excerpt from Kim Peterson, talking about the war on Iraq: As much as one can understand what causes terrorism (whether the state or retail variety) it is difficult and morally questionable to construe sense out of such wanton, violent acts. However, insofar as understanding the root causes can thwart future acts of terrorism, the exercise in understanding is morally necessary. For humanity to cohabit the planet in peace, an equitable sharing of the planet and its treasures is fundamental.

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Is the root cause corruption? Corruption that’s infiltrated the police force, the government, the judiciary and the morality of the public. There must be so many people involved in the recent attack with or without their knowing. A slight leniality on the part of a chowkidar, a small neglect on the part of an official all culminated into this. Can we truly become non-tolerant to terrorism? Maybe, if we can first be non-tolerant to corruption. Maybe, if every child is educated right from school about terrorism and public vigilance. Maybe if politics can implement long-term measures that last beyond 5 years, and go beyond their partite ideologies. Maybe if each individual considers it a responsibility to not provoke any sentiments, and not be biased in opinions. I dont know. I wish it was possible for people to sit together and make sense of it all. But I’m just not too sure anymore.

 

 

 

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Sunday Morning Vedanta


Life catches you by surprise if you let it. On a warm Sunday morning in Florida I find myself at a temple surrounded by so many Indian families and their kids all scuttling about. Some kids are learning hindi here at the ashram, some are learning dance, and yet some are attending philosophy lessons. Preparations are in full swing for their delayed Diwali celebrations and everybody has work to do. I like such intrusions into my usually busy days.. I had no phone, no laptop to kill time with and nothing to do.

I figure I might as well roam around and take in some spiritual vibes. I pray at the temple and again feel that awkward misplaced sense of being mixed with a comforting thought of god being around. There’s a Gita class that’s about to begin and I’m curious enough to sit un-conspicuously at the back. Now I have always been skeptical about Gita.. almost to the extent of refuting it. I can safely blame this on dad cause he would invariably resort to the adage “Everything is maya” during all of our debates. No further discussion is possible when a man of 50 states a thought like that. To a practical thought process its jarring to know that everything around is an illusion that really has no point :P. However, having never read the book myself I shall not pretend to own any opinions on it. To cut down the long tirade, I entered the class and sat through a discourse on 2 verses in the Gita.

Here’s the first one:

3.26

Na budhibhedam janayegyaanaam karmsanginaam|

joshayet-sarvkarmani vidvanyuktaha samacharan||

“Let no wise-man unsettle the minds of the ignorant people, who are attached to action; he should engage them all in actions, himself fulfilling them with devotion”

Tough luck guys, I was about to disclose the meaning of life to you… but looks like i should just let it be. (However, I can let you know that it is indeed very close to 42). This verse and the next ones all dealt with the need to act. Isn’t that a nice thought? You must act, and only in carrying out your actions can you achieve what you seek.

“Do not fear going ahead slowly, only fear standing still.” Keep the wheels moving all the time, said the explanation in the book. The wise should not slap on their knowledge onto the ignorant and disrupt their routine and activity. The worst thing that a wise man could do would be to create confusion and hamper the ignorant men’s stride. I wonder how they define being wise and ignorant.. but i guess for the sake of explaining the concept the book makes a black-and-white distinction in characters. In working on your jobs and responsibilities of day to day lie your answers.. whatever the question be. This is a thought very similar to Candide, by Voltaire. I recommend this book to anyone who’s wondered if the purpose of life is carry out mundane activities everyday.

Someone’s said it quite elegantly… “Keep walking”.

Verse Two: 3.25

Saktaha karmanyavidvaamso yatha kurvanti bharat|

kuryadwidwam-stathaasaktaschikir-shurlokasangraham||

 “As the ignorant men act from attachment to action, oh Bharata, so should the wise men act without attachment, wishing the welfare of the world.”

This took me a while to translate into something understandable. I was a lil suspicious as talks of attachment to worldly things was being explained, and was half afraid that the ‘everything-is-maya’ routine might spring up on me. It didn’t, and i’m not too sure i understand what’s said by being attached anyway. The take home point seemed to be to work without dwelling on the results and work only to be part of the greater designs in the world.

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That was about how long I sat there and for most parts of it i’m glad I did. It made me realise that the Gita would be an interesting read at this point and also that 5 yrs of Sanskrit in school has done me no good whatsoever. Maybe i’ll pick up a copy from our library and peruse through a quote or two to see what more it has to offer. Maybe i’ll find the true meaning of life. Sadly, I cant share that knowledge with you guys.. but I might write again about the experience.

Also try: “Move it.” https://revathy.wordpress.com/2007/01/20/move-it/

Move over Autumn, Winter’s here!


Ho ho ho, and a bottle of rum.. move over autumn, winter’s come!

Ok, that’s lame. But its true! No more excuses, winter is here. I’ve said enough about the soft, slow romance of Autumn, and its time to welcome the brashness of winter. My roommates giving me sidey looks as I say this. Now, I have absolutely no tolerance for cold (having lived where normal humans ought to for most part of my life), and she’s just waiting for the full blast of winter, by when I’ll be back here and crying out for beloved spring.

I probably will do so very soon. But today, it feels good. It feels, at least. I woke up and its a different world from what was last night. Everything’s white :D. There’s snow falling everywhere.. and i never really believed it but snowflakes are like lace after all! Yeah, the snow’s gonna become ice tomorrow, and yes the wind’s cold too. But what I really love about this season right now is that it’s so raw and rude. I hope I never get used to snow, and that it always remains a fascination to me. Here, the cold is not in moderation, the white is not in moderation. Clean slate? Ah, not that easy. But a newer world nevertheless.

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Serene and content, pure and white

where do you go when I try to reach out?

The world’s transformed into something else,

fantastical, magnamous and not true

If thats not what i call a dream,

then.. what can i call you?

** Still working on this**

The Last Leaf to Fall


And so I wake up, surprisingly fresh and awake, on a wonderful Saturday morning. I look outside and I see that its raining, the pattering of the raindrops on the dry leaves mixing with the constant hum of the AC. Its raining and yet the day is vibrant. I step out to the balcony and take deep breaths almost afraid that the freshness I feel shall disappear soon. I also smiled out to the trees. I must admit, my friend has one helluva view from her balcony. I see a patch of lawn, big enough to hold 5-6 majestic trees in their post-fall glory, the 460, and then a meadow dotted with white cows. The cows must have been up much before me, but, they’re very strange animals anyway. And beyond the meadow, standing strong in the background of the landscape I see is the blue ridge (forever enveloping, forever eluding?).

By now my feet are numb but the moment being entirely my own I’m content. I first stretch and reach for the outline of the mountains and then slowly draw in till I see a barn, the cows and the meadow. My eyes slowly cross the road and come closer home and are struck, so suddenly, by a leaf. The tree right in front of me was wet like all the others around. And the leaf was the only one on it. The last one. One bright yellow leaf so alone in the starkness of the brown around it. I looked at every bare branch and confirmed that my leaf was the last. I was amused that this leaf had borne the night’s rain that had laid so many red-brown leaves on the road. I contemplated running in and getting the camera to picture it. I wanted to preserve the moment like everybody feels the need to. However, I was sure it would fall the minute I took my eyes off of it. So there I stand, holding it by my eyes and I really don’t know how long. In my mind I picture its soft fall as I see it sway in the wind, and still it stays strong. I stared at it long enough for it to let me know that she wouldn’t fall anytime soon. And then, I knew it wouldn’t. It would stay there even when the white snow fell, standing out bright and yellow against the pale white.

An hour or so later, having coffee with my now awake friends I look out the big window, and she’s still there. I point out to my friends, they’re amused. They get the cam and we take some pics. We pack up and leave to our respective homes for the slumber party is done, some of us still in need for sleep.

And then I was just happy.

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Anticipation


Maybe tomorrow will be magical.

What is it about this youth that tints everything with happiness? The possibilities. That maybe the weather will be wonderful tomorrow and you could have lunch with your friends by a pond. Maybe you’ll meet that someone who makes you giddy and glad. Maybe there’ll be an unexpected phone call from family. Maybe you could go cycling along the trail and feel the rush of the wind. Maybe you can sit on the grass and read your book. Maybe you’ll buy a guitar and play Dylan to the wind. Maybe you’re advisor will let you take the day off! Damn, some things you cant even dream of :P.

A Thought:


” A paramecium in a pond, a shark in the ocean, an erythrocyte in the human blood stream, an apple tree in the orchard- all are different in composition from their surrounding, and, once they have reached maturity, all maintain a constant composition in the face of constantly changing surroundings”

Autumn, the first time


Summer is one thing, monsoons quite another. What do i think of as i picture summer? Hot winds and dust flying about. Blue skies with puffed up clouds, a stillness and calm in the afternoon air. And Monsoons? What do i think about when i think of Monsoons? Kerala, always the first. The steady pour of grey rain, never depressing. Then Bangalore with its clean, tree lined roads. The joy of sitting out at the balcony with mum while sipping black tea.

And Autumn? I really could never say. It being one of the seasons you’ve heard of described in someone else’s words, but never quite really felt. But its autumn here right now. That odd season in transition from the warmth of summer to the calm of winter. The trees may have been a lil haphazard in their colors (And what a riot it’s caused! Some are still contemplating the change, while some are beyond red and into brown. The right few are flaming red into the blue blue sky). So here we have it, clear blue skies, fall colors on trees and the slow slant of the evening sun. Games being played across lawns and fields, books being read by a lake as the same light flits thru the many trees. Birds settling down, flying about and those little squirrels hopping around, in their perpetual search for acorns! You’d think they’d have enough nuts to last them a whole debate. Evenings are always glorious if spent outdoors. The feeling of the day being done, but not quite over yet. Of course, if you’ve been sitting and working throughout the evening.. keep the faith, and once, before the season is done, spend an evening outdoors.

Sunshine in the evening. I’m sure the morning sun would have the same slant but having never been up that early, I’m not in a position to profess. The evening sun, mild, red and large as it sets behind the blue ridge mountains throws a sunlight that falls so softly, transforming everything into such a nostalgic frame. You walk past lakes, bustops, buildings and every scene seems worth a great shot. If you ever need to take a picture of friends/family to frame, do take it in the evening sunshine.

 One beam finds its way into my window, and I love to gaze out into the horizon. Just for a moment to pretend to be part of something magnamous and fantastical. And what do you know, sometimes you dont need to pretend after all.