Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

For Our Eyes Only!

I don't know if the world is scientifically "advanced" right now or if we are using science and technology just for a luxurious life. We actually do not know if the science we have is really advanced. So much to explore. So many possibilities. We have to keep our eyes open. Read nature and explore it. Because there is so much to find out. One life is not enough. It takes generations. Milena. To carry the legacy forward. The legacy of understanding, exploring.

The character that separates humans from other species is the ability to be curious. The capacity to explore. The art of skepticism. We are not blind at heart. Humans did not start blind. They explored, broad minded. Atleast I feel that they did. Because they were not complicated socially, like we are.Today! Architecture, engineering, astronomy, warfare, social behavior. Man developed himself. Or did he? Did he complicate himself? So complicated that man had to understand himself instead of the nature. Thus, social behavior brought in castism, racism and religion, glorifying and adoring humans instead of nature; creating persona to represent human greatness. Warfare brought in new, deadly inventions which were used to protect religions and human beliefs.

No wonder now we fight over who did better in everything. Religions have so much in common. Yet, we fight over which is better. Ancient scientists had so much in common. Yet, we are fighting over who fared better in research. The Upanishads might have talked about the Heisenberg Uncertainity Principle but we have to realise that it was Heisenberg who carried the legacy of those great books forward and became a major reason for Quantum Mechanics studies to be continued at a large scale. If not for him, probably we would not be doing "Re"search in that area. The uncertainity principle that the Upanishads talked about would be left behind in those yellowing pages!! I don't think a Rajnath Singh would be working on the topic.

Science as we know never had any boundaries nor it has right now. So, it is a wrong thing to stake claim over some work. How can then people not recognise the work of ancient Indians? While it is true that we should carry on research on aeronautics instead of just blabbering about the fact that ancient Indians did work on Vimana Sastra, we should acknowledge the work they started. The west has realised the works of Archimedes, Pythagoras, Euclid etcetera and are working on what they started, giving them good credit. Why are we Indians, less than the world (other countries are concentrating better on ancient Indian science more than the Indians) are failing to carry forward the legacy left behind by age old Indian scientists?

I feel that the problem occurs because ancient Indian science is associated with religion. Not everybody thinks like Dr.Abdul Kalam and follows the scientific achievements without a religious eye. Archimedes and Euclid are not associated with any religion and Christian, Jew and any other scientist in the modern world follows their science equally. Why is that people associate Indian science with religion is surprising. Is it because an Indian renaissance has not yet occured? Or have we missed the renaissance due to pure laziness for which we are known for?? For perks, if we believe in the art of skepticism, we should not blindly believe in God and we should not blindly not believe in God too, right??

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Process of Causing Something to Change...

That is the dictionary meaning of conversion! The most trending word in our country right now! Nope, not hunger, not development, not Katrina Kaif, not Sachin and not even ISL or New year 2015. Everybody, including the Allahabad high court is interested in this, most important of them, the media and the press. Crucial, relevant bills to be passed in the parliament are kept aside and religious unions are protesting!
Not the religion...the newspaper!

According to the article 25 of Sovereign India's constitution, citizens of India can practice, preach and propagate their faith without disrupting general public order. It is known that several states have passed anti-conversion bills and anti-illegal conversion bills. But all these were long ago and are quite useless and have lots of loopholes. I say, they are "vote bank bills" set to satisfy a certain fixed group of voters political parties have. But the question is, why now? Are thousands of people not being converted into Christianity every year? Why did no one raise questions then? Why Christianity, are people not being "re-converted" to Hinduism every year? It would be a joke if the recent "ghar wapsi" in Agra is first of its kind. All these religious businesses have been happening for centuries, right from when the missions and missionaries set their targets! Does the opposition political parties want a deviation or what?

Power and religion go together so much! Maybe that is why most Gods and prophets chosen to be worshipped were kings, centers of power. Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and countless others! The church is probably the most powerful thing on the planet right now with its head trying to capture the hearts of non believers with stupid remarks for which even the lamest person would laugh. No, I am not criticising any religion nor am I against any. Just when most religions are derivatives of something (the Abrahamic ones) or have prophets, heroes, stories and rituals in common, whats the point in being under different names and still in practice do the same kind of worship? At most the difference in different religions is you get to eat or not eat certain food items. That is all.

Keeping aside the reason for conversions, what is the big necessity for political parties to make it a key issue now in the parliament especially when there are important things to deal with? I smell a dead rat, a conspiracy! And when asked for anti conversion bill, the opposition is now calm ans not surprisingly, churches are wary. They are protesting an anti-conversion bill. There is a National United Christian Forum apparently and these people wrote a letter to the prime minister to not allow anti conversion bill. Hey, is it not good to remember Christmas even in the government as a good governance day? How on Earth would that take away the importance of Christmas? It only gives more importance. Why protest for everything the government does?

True, many a times the family of the ruling party have lost control over their knowledge and what they were speaking. Personally, I did not so like the speech by the prime minister himself at a hospital inauguration though he might have given the speech to match the situation. However, that was the cue! Who cares if Heisenberg uncertainity principle WAS known to ancient Indians? How many modern Indians are working as good as Heisenberg did? And the Gita does not change its charm if it becomes a national scripture or an International scripture. Though the statements carried enough amount of stupidity with them, governance need not be interrupted because of them!

It is the politicians who need to convert into true representatives of the country. True, secularism is the country's identity now. It can never be touched and we should all take utmost care of it lest we don't want to become like some of our neighbours. The upper house members should realise that they are not there only to oppose any bill the government considers important and that there are more important matters to discuss!
Those who voted people to power expect development irrespective of whether the concerned representative is in the government or not! And of course the media. Do you not know that conversions happened, are happening and will happen? When lakhs of people were converted earlier, did that news appear on the front page? Now daily, the front page is dedicated to VHP!! Cm'on, you are giving them free publicity! Stop this nonsense.
Don't disrupt, deliver!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ride Parallel to the Bay of Bengal

The best time to visit Tamil Nadu is now. Winter time. Especially those with dry skin can spend their expenses on moisturisers on a simple trip of three days to Chennai-Mahabalipuram-Puducherry. There will be not many hitches, at least I did not experience any when I went for the trip with my friends. The only criterion is that one should be patient, energetic and cool. A budget tour with lots of fun is surely possible.

Day 1: Chennai
One thing, don't ask about accommodation in Chennai. I do not know. I have got a friend there so accommodation problem never occurred to me. Okay, starting the day at around 8 AM, there are more than enough places to see in Chennai for one day. We went to the Mylapore tank and the 17th century temple adjacent to it. This Shiva temple was built long ago but was demolished by the Portugese 500 years ago. It is as old as Ptolemy times and finds mention in the great Greek's scriptures for his world map, probably. We then went to the Egmore museum and went back in time with all the excavated sculptures of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist gods and goddesses from different periods in and around Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka-Tamil Nadu. The tour of the entire museum comprising of these stone and bronze sculptures, coins, stamps and the biology section (some stuffed animals!) will not allow you to walk away from the museum so easily.
We had lunch from a nearby restaurant and went to the Marina beach.  Yes, we went at about four in the evening and it was not hot. San Thome Church was next. It is one of the three Basilicas to be built on the tomb of an apostle (is what is written there). His relics are here, apparently. A stone sculpture of the gilder he used to move a tree is here in the museum attached to the church.
We had enough for the day though there was a lot of time left.

The beautiful Marina beach..don't worry about the persons in the photo

Day 2: Pondicherry
Early in the morning (that's 10 for me). From the Koyembedu mossufil bus stand in Chennai, there are quite a lot of buses to Pondicherry and the travel time is about four hours. The ride is quite on the ECR route which runs parallel to the beach and over the many lagoons formed into the mainland. In Pondicherry, importantly, don't be bothered by the heat, if any, have lunch in Pondicherry and go to the "White town". With some persuasion, if you are young men, and with many assurances, accommodation at the Aurobindo Ashram guest house can be obtained. The lady there was a very nice person. We did not let you down momma!!
The "Life of Pi" bridge in Pondicherry
The beach road is exquisite. A fifteen minute trip to and in the Aurobindo Ashram was what we managed before we spent the whole evening roaming on the streets in the French section of Pondicherry. Well, I do not know if I might go to Mumbai, forget France. So we saw Paris in Pondicherry. We could have rented cycles to see more of the place but missed the timings. Beware!

Day 3: Mahabalipuram

The "Old" Mahabalipuram temple
Mahabalipuram is an old sea port for the Pallavas and Cholas. It enroute Chennai-Pondicherry. So while returning to Chennai, we stopped by for sometime. Seriously, half a day is not at all enough to see this place as is a paragraph not enough to describe it. I heard that one more town was excavated nearby after the 2004 Tsunami. We did not get the chance to visit that place. Forget that place, we did not completely see the town of Mahabalipuram. Even though I visited it earlier, I felt it new. Great job by the Archealogical Survey of India in protecting the UNESCO Heritage sites really well, especially with the strong currents and salty winds threatening the remaining structures which did not sink into the sea.
Also, it was here that I had banana bajji after one and a half year of wait!

Mahabalipuram relics, maintained well..Now!
The three days went on coolly and hastle-free. A week trip in and around Chennai in the Kancheepuram district might be ideal to properly see everything there. The public transport is quite good.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Authentically Ethnic!

"Tell me, is there any restaurant in Hyderabad which serves authentic Hyderabadi vegetarian food!" I dropped my spoon. Hyderabad and vegetarian? That too authentic. I looked at the zeera rice I was eating and wondered if it was even authentic to India. I couldn't care less. I just like it and I am eating it.

Then followed the comments. "This guy says he likes Hyderabad and doesn't know any local food." Does there need to be some authentic food item to the place to love it.

For instance, do I, being from Guntur, need to be proud of the red chilli or cotton or tobacco production there? True. According to the area and the availability of resources, there are certain things unique to that place. There might be places where there is nothing unique to it. That makes the place no less special. I love Hyderabad because of the cultural mixture of the city. Nowhere in the country, I can tell you that you find such a diverse mix of people. Maybe the reason is the deccan area. It is neither North India nor exactly the south of India. Naturally, one can find a find a mixture of all Indians in Hyderabad like nowhere else.

The double ka meetha..originally from Hyderabad :P

Hyderabad cuisine has a lot to offer and I never really bothered to know if it was unique to the city. Appam originated in Kerala. Pesarattu originated in Andhra Pradesh. I will sit in Hyderabad and eat both. And does it matter that puli-hora originated in Andhra Pradesh as puli derived from pulupu meaning sour and hora derived from origam meaning rice and is now hijacked by other states into saying its their creation? It is still the same recipe and I enjoy it if it is made tasty. I regularly go to a cafe in Lingampally in Hyderabad with my friends and enjoy the Irani-chai with biscuit osmania there. I never even cared to wonder why Irani-chai is "authentic" to Hyderabad. In fact, if I ever live somewhere outside Hyderabad, I would love it if someone sells irani-chai there. I like the item and don't link the food item to a particular place. In fact, when I was in Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram, I struggled to find food I really liked. This authentic food - business is just a marketing strategy followed by the restaurants to increase their sales. I won't fall for it.  

Irani chai with osmania biscuit

Dating back to the independence time, we divided ourselves based on religion. After attaining freedom, going back in time, as old as from 1953, we have been further dividing ourselves into smaller states. If in the beginning it was linguistic differences, it later turned into tribal clashes, terrain based, infrastructure and development, real estate and mainly political needs. Do we still need further bias based on food? I don't think so.

FootNote: This doesn't stop me or anyone in general from searching for Vada pav in Pune, Bhel Puri in Mumbai, Dhokla in Gujarat, Puchka in Kolkata or the famous Dum Biriyani in Hyderabad.