I often think of my early life in my village. There was no electricity or protected drinking water or even a motorable road. As such, the village was not connected by bus service. Only a couple of people owned a bicycle. At that time my only aim was to become a graduate, find a suitable job and leave my village for good. I fulfilled my desire. I got a job in the city. But the anonymity of city life brought me the pleasant memories of my village. There were enough vacant lands which served us as playgrounds. In the evening, the shepherds returned to the village from the forest and the hills where they had taken the cattle for grazing. We assembled at our village temple. The shepherds had a fund of stories about their encounters with the denizens of the forest – how they chased the wild animals and saved their charges. Undeniably, some of their stories were true. The bite marks of a leopard were visible on the skin of the cattle. Their stories continued into the night. Forgetting my home work, I continued to listen to their stories. Imagine a village where there was no electricity and we listened to the horror stories in pitch darkness (There was an oil lamp in the temple. But that only helped increase the effect of darkness). Those stories by the shepherds kindled my interest in the hunting stories of Jim Corbet, Kenneth Anderson and many other hunters. Now I visit the village once a year. The shepherds are not there. The tractor has replaced the farm animals. Farming as a calling has failed miserably. People have left the village in search of other work. There are no known faces. Most houses are either in ruin or have changed hands. Only the pleasant memories of the good old days are left with me.
No doubt a robber, a thief or a corrupt politician earns a fortune in his life time. But does the ill-gotten money help him or his descendants? Certainly not. The robber buries the loot in some unknown spot in a forest before his life ends in the noose. The pirate hides his fortune in an unchartered island and dies in a sea-battle. The politician deposits his money in a secret bank account in a tax haven and dies without disclosing his account number to his near and dear ones – if there are any. Does the man who unearths the fortune from an unexpected burial spot enjoy the treasure? No, he doesn’t. As per rule, the government is entitled to claim the buried treasure.
Our history teachers gave us many reasons for the start of a war. Colonialism coupled with industrialization caused the First World War – we are told. Most wars were started for the conquest of territory. If you respect the territorial integrity of other nations, there will be no war. But why should the invading army always go after the women living in the conquered territory? Surely, they were not the ones who caused the war?
It is a strange fact that for a large number of people in this world, water is the elixir of life.
Purple is not one of the spectral colours. It is a blend of the two basic colours – blue and red. But, it is certainly a very beautiful colour. Though it is not a basic colour, the various hues of the colour could be seen in nature. Why did God create this beautiful colour? Is it his suggestion that a blend of two different colours could make a wonderful race? His intention in creating the white, yellow, black and brown races defies any other explanation.
SYMBIOSIS is living together of two organisms to the mutual benefit of both. But a man went beyond the literal meaning of the word. In 1971, he started an international university in Pune, near Bombay (now called Mumbai) where students from many countries of the world live together in their pursuit of knowledge. The centre of education is aptly called ‘Symbiosis International University’. Naturally, it may prove to be the starting point for international understanding and co-operation. This international university is by no means the first in the history of India. Even as early as the sixth century B.C., a university had started functioning somewhere in the Sind province of the present day Pakistan. (Before 1947, it was a part of undivided India). It was named Taksha shila ( As the pronunciation of the name undoubtedly presented some difficulty to the western tongue, the English historians conveniently called it Taxila). Many students from beyond the borders of India – upto Greece in the west and from countries like Uzbekistan, Kazhakasthan, Mongolia, etc. in the north west studied in this university. The university was destroyed by the invaders from the west and north-west about 500 A.D. Another university came into being in the present day Bihar state of India. It was called Nalanda University. It functioned from about 500 AD to about 1300 AD. It attracted students from as far as Korea, China, etc. This university too was closed by the later day invaders. Could education, like wordpress.com prove to be a unifying factor?
Many people think that dreams are meaningless display of unconnected and disjointed memories of our past experiences. I strongly believe that dreams are the reflections of our inner mind – like the unfulfilled wishes, things we have ignored or forgotten, certain facts which may have faded from our memory or some significant things we may have overlooked and so on. The dreams may bring an important matter to the attention of our conscious mind. If we learn to interpret the dreams, we may unravel the thoughts running in our inner mind. For example, we may have misplaced a key somewhere. But our inner mind, which is always awake, notes it and tries to bring it to our conscious mind by way of a dream – how and where we misplaced the key. But the inner mind’s language is a childish gibber. Once we learn the correct way of interpreting this apparently meaningless gibber, we can solve many problems.
The English word ‘ordinary’ is not an ordinary word. Do I sound odd? Read on.
In a language examination paper, you might have been asked to write the opposites of some words. You might have written ‘small’ for big; ‘short’ for long, and so on. Those words never present any difficulty. But not ‘ordinary’.
The first time I gave my clothes for washing in Madras, the laundry man asked me, “ordinary or urgent?”. Having come from a village in the extreme south of India, I had a great respect for the knowledgeable use of the English words even by the ordinary folk of Madras. So, I diligently included the word ‘urgent’ as the opposite of ordinary in my vocabulary. At the tea-shop, when I ordered a cup of tea, the ‘learned’ server asked me if I wanted ‘ordinary’ or ‘special’ tea. So, I included special as an opposite of ordinary. My learning of the language continued at unexpected places. At the post office, the clerk asked me if I wanted to send an ordinary telegram or ‘express’ telegram. More surprises followed. When I tried to get into the airport through a harmless-looking gate, the sentry alerted me that it was an entry gate for VIP’s. I had to enter through the gate meant for ‘ordinary’ folk. On that day, I learnt VIP was the opposite of ordinary. The same way, an ordinary day is opposed to an ‘eventful’ day. So, when you are asked to write the opposite of ‘ordinary’, you find yourself in an extraordinary situation. But Americans will find themselves in a ‘sticky’ situation. But that does not mean that ‘sticky’ is the opposite of ‘ordinary’.
We treat the symptom, not the disease. Headache, for instance is only a warning signal, just as the red traffic signal at a road junction. Headache means that something, somewhere is wrong in our system. But, we take an aspirin tablet to suppress the pain. Not only individuals, even the government resorts to the treatment of the symptoms and not the cause. If someone dies in a traffic accident, the government pays some compensation to the victim and allows the matter to rest at that. No investigation is done to find out the cause of the accident and the necessary steps to be taken to avoid such an accident in future. So, every year, accidents happen in the railways, roads, electrical infrastructure, water bodies, hospitals and innumerable other things. Let us address the cause, not the symptom.
What was the happiest moment in my life?
The day I passed my first university examination with a first class?
The day I was married?
No doubt, I felt quite happy on those days. But my happiest moment was when I got the acceptance letter from the editor of a reputed magazine. It was my first story and I was in cloud nine when I came to know that my story had been selected for publication. If you think deeply, you will know that apart from his basic needs like food and water, man craves for ‘acceptance’ from his fellow human beings. When the child is not ‘accepted’ by his play-mates, he starts crying. It is followed by ‘acceptance’ by the hostel-mates, colleagues in an office, and so on. Another word used with the same connotation is ‘recognition’.