Wednesday, April 23, 2008


If you have already checked out Kailash Kher's latest album Kailasha (meaning crystal), you couldn't have missed the song- Naiharwa. Here's the song:

If you get a chance, listen to the version by Kumar Gandharva [Link]. It's a gem!

And here's the translation for the song:

I Don't Find any Interest in My Parents' House
My Beloved's Town is Most Beautiful
However, Nobody Goes or Comes from There
There is no Moon, Sun, Wind or Water There
Then Who Will Take My Message There?
Then Who Will Tell My Pain to My Beloved?

There is No Visible Path to Move Forward
And You Blame the Past for It
How Should the Bride go to the House of the Beloved?
Powerful Pangs of Separation are Burning from Inside
Dual Reality is Fashioning a Dance to Its Tune

There is None Other Than the Guru Who is Mine Who Can Tell the Way
Says Kabir Listen oh Aspirant
Your Beloved Will Come in a Dream-like State
That Alone Will Quench the Thirst of your Heart


In this song Kabir portrays himself like a bride who has gone to her parents' house. But having gone there her soul burns from the pangs of separation from her beloved. The bride's trouble is further complicated because there are no messengers (such as the Sun, Moon, Wind or Water) who can reach and convey her message to the beloved. She has no path or way to solve this problem. Meanwhile the separation is killing her from inside.

Kabir, in his mystical way, is comparing the separation of the individual from the universal self like that of a bride from her beloved. He explains that this insatiable thirst comes from the feeling of separation whose root lies in duality.

He then explains that the only person who can help out of this problem is the Guru. In his final parting signature note, Kabir reveals that the way to reach the beloved is not outside but Inside (similar to a dream-like state) which alone will satisfy the seemingly unending burning thirst.

You'll love it as much as I did.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Aamchi Mumbai

Mumbai and it's infamous underworld inspires yet another novel- a 900 page one this time. Vikram Chandra's latest novel "Sacred Games" seems to be a very engrossing story complete with Bolllywood songs and dialogues.
Also adding flavour to the accounts are familiar flowery street dialogue that needs an extensive glossary to explain to non-Indian readers.

Chandra is a pretty popular writer with translations in 11 languages. Hear him in an interview on NPR. [Link] The book in NPR's words:
Weighing in at 900 pages, the novel is Dickensian in scope, and part Godfather as well. Sacred Games follows a world-weary cop and a larger-than-life crime boss. Add in the world's largest film industry, Bollywood, a shady guru and the ever-present tension between India and Pakistan, and you have a full-blown literary potboiler.

Award winning writer Chandra is a UC Berkeley lecturer. [Link]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One giant set to kill another!

The Goliath of retail business- Walmart is all set to trample the giant unorganized, grassroot, and sustainable retail business of India! And with it we will lose yet another identity and spell out doom for our culture and traditions.

Harsh retoric
For those it in India, my words seem harsh and unfair. And so might be the case with the high-flying businessmen and ploticians who never make it to the ground once they are in power! But for those who have spent even a few years in the US, they understand the Walmart culture, the culture of rapid corporatization of the country. No matter how much economists might have made you believe otherwise, this was a very wrong move!

Death Knell for locals

It was nothing short of bastardization of the local economy and strangling of local culture and diversity. It was just another case of Western lifestyle seeking instant gratification! How adverse the effect was on local identity and economy on opening a Walmart in the community is to be seen to be believed. Just walk into the downtown of any small and mid-sized town in the US and talk to local businesses about their history, and I bet that you'll see them dropping tears to tell you what was lost and will never be regained.

Coming soon in a neighbourhood near you ...
500 Walmart stores by mid-2007 in different parts of India is the death knell! You will never see the old lady pushing her cart in the morning outside your doorstep hawking piles of freshly plucked jasmine. You will lose the guy in the street corner who sells you fresh vegetables and fruits every morning which he brings from his garden on the outskirts of the city. You will soon wonder what ever happened to the local milkman, ice-cream peddler, or even the corner paan-shop?

While many are going to rightfully protest this unfair onslaugth of corporations on our natural economy, many of us will be tempted and excited to test this new business. But wake up and ask questions- for dishonesty and ignorance are rampant in the upper echeleons of the society, power mongers, or those that we have trusted our well being on.

I don't hate America. I don't hate Walmart. Only- the business policies they advocate and the vested interests they have in mind. It is not democratic, it is not for the people; it is solely for making more profits. They are coming there because the Western markets are getting saturated.

A decade from now we might end up looking more like America but would have traded our soul, culture and traditions for it!

If you want to hear about the multitude of horrors Walmart is getting ready to unleash, watch this movie: 'The High Cost of Low Price'. [Link] Get your facts correctly on their blog [Link].If you can't find the movie, write to me- leave a comment.

Vandana Shiva

Once in a while we come across personalities who are striving wholeheartedly to make a difference in the community. Yesterday, I came across one such person. A thinker who's actively arguing and challenging popular policies that are disadvantaging the poor and the needy in the garb of empowerment.

Vandana Shiva, world-renowned environmental leader and thinker. She is also a physicist and ecologist and the Director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is the founder of Navdanya -"nine seeds", a movement promoting diversity and use of native seeds. Dr. Shiva was the 1993 recipient of the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize -the Right Livelihood Award. And she is the author of many books, her latest is "Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace."

People like her can help us look beyond instant gratification and objectively look for ways to truly help the impoversihed! More on her.[Link]

Here's something that she mentioned in a recent interview:
Indian farmers have never committed suicide on a large scale. It’s something totally new. It’s linked to the last decade of globalization, trade liberalization under a corporate-driven economy. The seed sector was liberalized to allow corporations like Cargill and Monsanto to sell unregulated, untested seed. They began with hybrids, which can’t be saved, and moved on to genetically engineered Bt cotton. The cotton belt is where the suicides are taking place on a very, very large scale. It is the suicide belt of India.

And the high cost of seed is linked to high cost of chemicals, because these seeds need chemicals. In addition, these costly seeds need to be bought every year, because their very design is to make seeds nonrenewable, seed that isn’t renewable by its very nature, but whether it’s through patenting systems, intellectual property rights or technologically through hybridization, nonrenewable seed is being sold to farmers so they must buy every year.

In the state of Rajasthan, which is the capital of the production of mustard -- and mustard in India is very symbolic. It’s the color of our spring. When spring comes, we dress in the yellow of the mustard flower. It’s our staple oil, and we love the pungency of it. 1998, Monsanto and Cargill managed to get a ban on indigenous oils in order to create a market for soya oil, something we’ve never eaten before.

Read on ... this is even worse!
... the nuclear deal with India has a twin agreement, and that twin agreement is on agriculture. It’s called the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, and on the board of this agreement are Monsanto, ADM and Wal-Mart.

The World Bank, WTO, and the IMF have hijacked the developing nations with flashy solutions for things they don't understand! Politicians and businessmen in these countries have also fallen for these deals either out of ignorance or their hunger for money!

Coming up
- another humbling person whom I've started revering from the first day I found out about his mission in life.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Was it out of fury or fear?

You've heard about contagious diseases ... but have you ever heard of a term like 'contagious fire'? Well you might interpret it as an uncontrolled spread of fire from one area to another. But you are actually far from the target!

This is a term that was offered again lst week by the famous NYPD. The NYPD brand name has an image to maintain and they know just how to do that. They branded the recent shooting of unarmed Sean Bell and his friends outside a bar as 'contagious fire'. How convenient!

The term tires to explain why 5 police officers had to empty their barrels on a few unarmed young guys? As if one of the police officers had a 'shooting' disease which spread to his colleagues in the heat of the moment. Amazing how these days we are able to cover up everything with a play of words!

Thank you NYPD, for coining that term though! It is definitely an epidemic that is spreading through law enforcement personnel in the United States. Law enforcement is so trigger happy that one wrong move by a civilian can be fatal. Even if the police is persuing a criminal- why is it that 95% of the times they have to kill him? I thought the police were taught techniques to disarm criminals without shooting or even if shooting is involved they can always shoot to injure- why kill? Human life seems to be only valuable these days if you have the power, status or the evergreen dough!

What happened to Sean Bell? read here.

And seems like 'contagious shooting' is a common term for some years now! Here are all you want to know about 'CS'. [Link]

Friday, December 01, 2006

Can we rise up again?

Even after a year we heard it last, the news about India topping the HIV infection list continuous to send shockwaves. How did this ever happen? So much effort has gone into creating social awareness in the affected regions of the society. So why aren't we still managing to control the epidemic?

Whatever may be the reason, I guess besides hearing all this in the news and checking out the Billy boys and the Brangelinas, we ourselves can do a lot. 5.7 million out of a population of a billion are HIV positive. How many Indians do you think are millionaires? 61,000 according to the World Wealth Report by brokerage firm Merrill Lynch & Co and consultancy CapGemini Group. Even if each of them were worth a million each, that would make then collectively worth 61,000 million. Which is 61 followed by 9 zeros or 61,000,000,000. Forget them- they are busy or already doing a lot. There might be atleast 10 times the number (10 x 61,000= 610,000) who have altleast a dollar to spare per day. The point is- we might have enough resources between us to monetarily take care of the grave situation. The bigger problem is to select a reliable agency to work on the ground and diligently channel the funds and resources.

Again the point is that we have a problem in our hands and it is affecting our own home, our land- do we just sit back and watch. We acted wisely when there was a tsunami, we acted when there were floods, or an earthquake. What can we do now?

And by the way, celebrities are important too because that's how the whole world suddenly turns their attention to the problems? Everytime they visit India, they have done us such a favour by mixing business with charity. Thanks for every good will and good intention that comes our way!

Next, another new and deadly disease spreads ... Look out for 'Contagious fire' in the next article.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Unifying divinity?

I came across this picture by Kush Tandon on Flickr. The symbols of three major world religions merged into one sculpture at the entrace of a Hindu temple. Intriguing to find such tolerance and acceptance among people out there on the streets! This is real India!

Picture courtesy: Kush Tandon on Flickr

Visit Kush's photostream to find more such pictures. [Link]

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The World's wettest place is the loudest too!

The beautiful hill town of Shillong, in the state of Meghalaya has earned a place into the Guinness Book of World Record. The small town was able to assemble 7.951 drummers from all corners of the state to play a single rythemic pattern en-masse for 5 mins.

For years Cherapunjee has held its place in the Book of Records for being the wettest place on Earth with an average of 11,070 mm rain. And now another distinction for the state. By the way, 'Meghalaya' means 'home of the clouds'.

This new honour may not change the course of history in Meghalaya- the forgotten state in the far east in India, but this a great chance to cash in on all the publicity. The quaint little town is on the global radar today and why not take this opportunity to turn this place into, for example the Seville [Link] of the East, or even Scotland of the east.

This is a great opportunity to renew our energies to support another beautiful part of our country with all the resources we have, and help resolve it's economic hurdles, and natural hurdles.

Here's an idea: Can we help create a repository of all things fascinating about India through independent media channels such as a blog? We can create a wiki-based website where amateur and professional photojournalists and writers can contribute to build a single resourceful web portal on India. Anyone up for it?

BTW, follow the photo story on Shillong's new earned glory on BBC as well. [Link]