What is in a Name eh?


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/638300/whats-name-eh.html

I quite marvel and also agree with everything William Shakespeare penned with the exception of one celebrated line. I always have a feeling that if he had just about peeked into our subcontinent, he would have certainly refrained from making a grand statement about the redundancy of names. It is obvious he was innocent about our penchant for a thousand names for most of our deities. The less important gods and goddesses who did not merit the haloed Sahasranama were assigned at least a 108 names.

The abundant populace of our country, who wished not to be left behind, traditionally gave a minimum of two names and a maximum of five names to their wards. The wards are named after the personal favourites in the pantheon, the family god, elders in the family, role models and even movie stars — sometimes complete with their respective surnames. Then, parents come up with an official name based on the horoscope or numerology hoping to realise all their dreams from the child bearing the lucky name.

At the end of all this exercise, each member in the family and neighbourhood comes up with a tacky pet name for the infant which almost always sticks for a lifetime. As if these names were not enough, children always invariably attract nicknames through schooling and college life. The girls, mostly, take the surname of their husband post marriage and are often renamed after the nuptials to match their spouses name.

Such being the case, when the police come for verifying details given in the passport application form, nine on ten people whose names have been given as referral will have to be apprised about the “official name” or the quintessential “daak naam,” especially if you happen to be of Bengali or Oriya origin. Then there is the other category of people who create aliases for their creative works, social media and international work desks.

As if these were not enough, our birth certificate, mark sheet, PAN card, bank account, Aadhar card and other documents sometimes have variations of the official name, and we Indians know such anomalies are a part and parcel of our lives. In fact, there is an entrepreneurial money-spinning industry out there which helps people to correct personal  data in the documents that matter, so that they reflect uniformity!

But how was the Bard to know all this when he wrote, “What is in a name? A rose called by any other name would smell as sweet!”

When Wit Goes Wrong


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/603531/when-wit-goes-wrong.html

Good humour is a very sensitive emotion. It succeeds only when both the perpetrator and the person or the people in the receiving end are both sensible and sensitive about the contents of their joke. In other words, a healthy joke will steer clear of vulgarity or exploiting a weakness of a person or a community. Sometimes, the most well intended humour can go awfully wrong creating resentment and even enmity for the humorist.

A tale from the Shiva Purana recounts how even the mighty Lord Vishnu was not spared for having played a practical joke on his dearest devotee Narada. Once, Narada was besotted by the beautiful princess Shrimathi. He wanted her to choose him during her Swayamvara. He realised that if he wanted his dream to come true, he must be the most attractive suitor. Narada was also aware that Mahavishnu possessed the most charismatic face in the universe. Therefore, he sought to be blessed with Harimukha (the face of Vishnu also known as Hari) for the Swayamvara. The amused Lord decided to play on the pun on the term Hari which also meant monkey. Narada’s visage was transformed to that of a simian, but he was unaware of the joke. He went along to the Swayamvara only to be laughed and jeered at.

When Narada realised that he had become the laughing stock at the court, he was deeply hurt. He cursed the Shiva Ganas who prompted him to look into the mirror and embarrassed him. He marched to Vaikunta and confronted Lord Vishnu angrily about the breach of trust. He cursed the very Lord he adored to experience separation from his spouse. Once Narada gave vent to his rage, Mahavishnu explained that he had made Narada the butt of his joke to make him realise that he had swerved from his chosen path of eternal celibacy. In fact, the whole episode was structured to awaken the sage from his disillusionment. Narada understood his mistake and made haste to retract the unreasonable words blurted out in a fury. However, Mahavishnu accepted the curse gracefully because it would facilitate him to play out his manifestation as Rama, but more so because he wanted to establish the fact that when humour does not go well with the recipient then things can sour up.

Overcoming Obstacles – Lessons from Hanuman


http://www.vydikshala.com/blog/Hanuman-Lessons/

By – Radha Prathi

When Hanuman was crossing the great ocean in search of Sita, he was waylaid by obstacles. Three Rakshasis posed problems to his progress. He overcame each one of them in an enterprising manner with presence of mind. The journey of Hanuman towards his mission and the way he dealt with each one of his different troubles can be used as a proven guide to any one of us who are striving hard to achieve our goal.

Hanuman was first confronted by Surasa. She threatened to swallow him. When he spelt out the nature of his undertaking, she softened her stance. She insisted that Hanuman should enter her mouth before taking off. Hanuman nodded and drew himself to his full length. Surasa widened her mouth proportionately. In a trice, the clever messenger shrunk himself to the size of a shrimp and quickly dashed in and out of the Rakshasis oral cavity in a bid to keep his word and hers. Traversing the beaten path or trying out previously tried and tested solutions may not always be useful in sorting out issues. Lateral thinking can save the day. It is mandatory for us to understand that when logical reasoning and physical strength is sidelined as redundant, thinking out of the box can provide a solution.

 
Hanuman’s journey was not really smooth after he outsmarted his way out of his first impediment. Another Rakshasi called Simhika posed as a speed breaker. She caught hold of  Hanuman’s shadow which was reflected in the waters and made it impossible for him to inch forward. The champion had to gather all his strength to literally tear way from his marauder and killing her in the process. The shadow in this case is a euphemism for the thoughts and reservations that hinder us from moving forward. It is imperative for us to let go of our weaknesses, inhibitions and insecurities and face whatever comes our way with grit and determination.

 

When Hanuman touched the Lankan soil, he metamorphosed himself into a little monkey in order to explore the place. There, he was confronted by another Rakshasi Lankini who challenged his entry into the land she guarded. Hanuman struck the spirit of Lanka nonchalantly, subscribing with his contemporary form. His unassuming behaviour unnerved Lankini psychologically because she remembered that Lanka was destined to be destroyed when a monkey struck her. Unknowingly, Hanuman won the day by just construing to his role which ultimately worked in his favour.

All predicaments will have answers. It is up to us to analyse the time, place and situation of the crisis  and work on a key that will see us out of it safely and successfully.

 

 

 

 

Outsourcing is the Word


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/584479/outsourcings-word.html

Everything we ever want is available to us just at a click of a button, well almost everything. The things that cannot be achieved directly by technology can be outsourced for a price tag.

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When True Colours are Exposed


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When true colours are exposed

S Radha Prathi, Nov 11, 2016:

A casual look around us will reveal that we are living in an increasingly hypocritical world. Our costu­me drama consists of clothes, accessories, make-up, hairdo, et al, which has to be synchronised in accordance with the person, venue and situation, not necessarily in that order.

In other words, people have started believing that the social value and attitude of the people is reflected not so much as in their character as against their appearance and standard of life.

It is interesting to note that while most people work hard on their external appearance they rarely tarry to groom their intrinsic values. Faking appearances and attitudes have assumed the status of an elevated form of art in the make believe world.

What is more bothersome is the fact that most of us do not even have any qualms about pretending to be who we are not. This trend normally works well as long as it lasts. However, when one’s true colours are exposed, the results can be disastrous.

A story from the Panchatantra drives home this point. Once there lived a jackal called Chandarava in a forest. One day he ventured into a nearby village and was relentlessly chased by a pack of dogs.

The jackal’s blind run ended in a tub of blue dye. When the coloured animal emerged from the tub the dogs were terrified and ran away. The jackal decided to cash in on the change in the colour of his skin. He called for a meeting of animals and informed them that he was sent to live in their midst by their creator.

The inmates of the forest extended their hospitality to the newcomer. Life was a cakewalk for the jackal for a while. One day it so happened that when he was in court, he heard a pack of jackals yodeling. He forgot his pretentious existence for a moment and yodeled away.

The animals around him imm­ediately saw through the fraud and he was ripped apart. Those who practice deception rarely realise that they will have to face dire consequences when they are exposed in an inadvertent moment.

Eventua­l­ly, they will lose the trust and regard forever in their social circles. The ripple effect of th­eir exposure will affect not only their future but also that of their families and well-wishers.

Science Psyche & Entertainment


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/580202/science-psyche-entertainment.html

Of late, people have been getting hooked to horror movies and scary TV serials that have made it to the big and small screens like never before. Modern technology has facilitated these pieces of art into spectacular and stunning bits of entertainment.

Creative directors and story writers are taking advantage of this provision. So now we have snakes slithering into the bedrooms, fires emanating from water, lemons morphing into ferocious animals, earth cracking under ones feet, spirits, goblins and ghosts rubbing shoulders with their mortal kin, occult, black magic, voodoo among other things.

Subjects like life after death which was in the realms of theosophy and philosophy have been given a new lease of life by being introduced into the story line. So now we have a series of “murdered characters” flitting about as enraged or morbid souls in finery seeking revenge by entering the bodies of their erstwhile enemies.

For good measure, they also settle other minor scores giving scope for eerie humour. These stories which made the rounds mostly on late night shows have been gaining visibility even during the day. The escalating TRPs are proof of their popularity.

What is more interesting is the fact that modern science has facilitated the access to these unfounded, medieval, dark age stories and belief.

In other words, poppycock nonsense has regained its past glory by the very science that was used to expose it. The most bizarre ideas are translated into the visual medium by intelligent minds who know how to wield the essential equipment. Truth be told, they are doing a splendid job.

On the one hand, this trend speaks of the might of human intelligence which is able to cater just about anything that is demanded of it.

On the other hand, it is a little frightening to know that people who do not exercise their grey cells are lapping up the farfetched stories of another era which were retired as redundant, obsolete and illogical. It is when viewers start attaching value to it beyond the entertainment quotient the trouble begins.

There have been news stories about audience responding to this genre of entertainment in hitherto unheard ways. The first category of people get inspired by what they see. They utilise their limited knowledge and make use of horror to derive some thrill by frightening their friends and enemies out of their wits or skins. The other category is the typical hero worshipping admirers of the subcontinent, who do not mind throwing away their personalities and sometimes even their lives in the name of adoration.

Scientific temperament

They are the naïvetes who start believing and imbibing the various concepts and ideas that are presented to them. They lose track of their scientific temperament and never care to verify the truth before communicating the same to others. It is alarming to know that a large section of population who belong to this category happen to be women and children who may or may not be educated.

It is ironic to note that the very science that was/is used to enlighten the human mind and help it overcome baseless fears, superstitions and beliefs is instrumental in worming into our wisdom.

While there is nothing wrong in using science to aid creativity, one must also curb the tendency to spread irrational thinking in the name of entertainment. The intelligent brains that come up with exotic and innovative ideas must also keep in mind they are indirectly responsible for shaping the minds of their consumers.

They must remember that people like to copy, adulate and emulate what fascinates them. Statutory warnings or censor boards can be inadequate in stemming the possible damage to the human psyche. Hence, it becomes the sacrosanct responsibility of the ingenious ilk to use their expertise judiciously.

Technology has come a long way and shrunk the world beyond imagination. It has made the world closer and sometimes closed as in the present case. Today, more than ever before, we must ensure that the role of science makes a positive impact on modern man’s life.

Science should be  used to open up minds to newer possibilities because it can sustain, empower, help us evolve and emerge as better people or very simply decimate us to being mere mindless zombies who stop living and start existing.

 

Deconstructing Clever Signs


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/564275/deconstructing-clever-signs.html

Radha Prathi, Aug 14, 2016,

Reflections

The smart man had zeroed in on the real culprits who could be blamed for the inflation.

The written word has a charm of its own. It is not merely what is available on the Internet and in media and books. Sign posts, menu cards, brochures, pamphlets and billboards, bloopers and unintended puns have the power to lighten many a heart with their original content and humour. However, I would like to dwell on another genre of writing that has grabbed my attention on and off. Though I have come across many such nuggets, the following take the cake…

A Xerox shop had put up a new price list. Alongside was another sheet of paper that read, ‘We are not responsible for the pricing. If you have any complaints, please approach the CM or PM.’ The smart man had zeroed in on the real culprits who could be blamed for the inflation. The writing on the wall discreetly encouraged the customer to give the matter some thought while discouraging the potential customer from questioning the cost.

Then there was this message on a sheet of paper stuck on the front glass of a large car: ‘Kindly park your car properly or we will punkcher your tyre.’ The car was not moved. Overnight there was an addendum to the note: ‘I mean puncture,’ in block letters. I could sense the despair of the scribe who felt that there was no response to the memo because he had misspelt his threat. I also observed the change in the use of the first-person pronoun from plural to singular. In the coming days, the car was parked ‘properly’, without inviting more such nag notes.

Another time, a sheet of paper stuck on the elevator door read, ‘Please don’t press 2, dead end.’ I could not figure out the import. A staff member explained that the general entrance to the second floor had been sealed off because it had an internal lift that connected the first and the second floors. Therefore, if people did stop at the second floor, the door, which was still operable, would open to a wall that sealed the entrance. I understood the good intention and the dark humour behind the cautionary words.

I cannot forget another such piece of writing taped over a young neem tree. ‘You will not prosper if you use the leaves of this tree.’ According to the grapevine, the sapling had been planted by a green enthusiast only the previous year. The locals had helped themselves to every leaf that sprouted, for medicinal purposes. The tree had survived the onslaught and had unfurled its green umbrella the following spring. It was Ugadi and there was every chance of the neighbours stripping the sapling to its scrawny branches, hence the warning. The tree lover had cashed in on the power of curse to play mind games on the people who may be tempted to relieve the tree of its leaves.

These and many such memoranda that are laced with humour happen to be insightful. They reflect the genuine intent to communicate effectively and honestly. They mirror the feelings of disgust, anxiety or disapproval. They also testify the fact that the scribes of these notes have possibly failed to express their thoughts orally. They could have been timid, may have wanted to avoid open confrontation resulting in embarrassment or unpleasantness, or, they may have believed more in the power of the written word. Yet, the fact remains that they are generally put up with the expectation of seeing desired results. Oftentimes, these gems of prudence are written in English, albeit with some creative liberties taken with the Queen’s language, with the hope of reaching out to a larger number of people.

If it has not been already done, these cryptic notes can be compiled, analysed and studied. They will throw light on the human mindset, lifestyle, and thought processes of our contemporary society.