The Ubiquitous Protector

People, especially the city slickers do not have any reasons to exert themselves unless they make a conscious attempt to remove themselves from their comfort zone. All we have to really do is kindly breathe, eat and excrete because most of our needs and jobs are taken care of by machines and the rest by electronics and the help we employ.

Just when we are ushered into that idyllic world of doing nothing, there is an official declaration that most of the health problems of the present age stems from our sedentary lifestyles. So being the quintessential couch potato with matching chips alongside is no longer the most favourable position to be in. Those people who have pledged that they will not budge from their comfort zone for love or money will have to think again.

These days, even momentarily opened doors and windows happen to be ushering in winged creatures which are mostly mosquitoes. They breeze in and hum around our ears, settle on the exposed portions of our bodies and merrily quaff on our life blood.

As a rule, we humans do not resent the resultant itching or the sharing of half a drop of blood if it were not associated with a host of diseases. So we started using sprays, lights, coils and repellants with negligible results. Then, the brainier section of mankind invented the mosquito bat. All we have to do is place our thumbs on the button to activate the electrified battle-ready weapon and brandish it around ourselves and vanquish the bloodsuckers that dare to venture into our orbit. If we are lucky, our success is celebrated with some fireworks and we can slip back into indolence till the next beastly pest flies along.

Initially, the conscientious Samaritans were hesitant to indulge in conscious “himsa.” It took a few gurus and their disciples to use the implement in full public view to put across the message that the insects were probably wretched souls seeking liberation so that they could move on to higher planes. Then on, no one seems to have any compunction about using their bludgeons blissfully. On the contrary, they feel secure when they have one such racquet beside them.

The users of the bats will vouch for the fact that their arms have been strengthened while protecting themselves from some dreadful diseases. More enterprising batsmen and women also manage to burn a few calories when they scout for victims in the vicinity of their homes. In fact, a couple of engineering students have started working on the sports model of the bat which can keep scores of hits and misses quite on the lines of Pokemon Go!

Now that the power and position of the haloed bat has been established, the day is not far when the mosquito will be declared as an endangered species. True blue users of the bludgeon will understand that one of the sovereign duties of a desi is to safeguard the cesspools, potholes, garbage piles so that we have a never ending supply of offerings to the ubiquitous bats that each one of us possesses. After all, is it not our duty to protect our protector?

Shackled Capabilities

These days, I cannot resist chuckling to myself when I pass a police station in Namma Bengaluru. The billboard in the premises triggers me into a muted convulsion. The writing in Kannada says, “There are chain thieves around. Beware of them.”

When I saw the impressive board for the first time, I read it aloud to my curious friend who could not read the lingo. Almost immediately, the driver of the auto in which we were travelling chimed in and said that truer words could not have been spoken. He added that the board spoke of the thieves ‘within’ the premises, including the catchers and the caught. His unexpected sarcastic wisecrack had us in splits.

Soon he turned serious and reeled out a dozen instances of chain snatching incidents which met their Waterloo in the area earmarked for public security. Although we were amused, we could not discount the earnestness that we detected in his voice.

We realised that the men in khaki largely fail to inspire respect in the general public. We were reminded of a family anecdote. When one of my uncles was selected by the police department to join as a sub-inspector, my straightforward grandfather categorically threatened to disown him, if he did take up the job.

We in the sub-continent seem to have little or no faith in our law and order system. That explains the reams of jokes on pot bellied policemen and their wayward ways. Our movies invariably picturise them rushing in the last leg of the climax and nabbing the culprits after the hero has bashed them up.

Recently, a news report in Deccan Herald published a story about 10 boys from Bihar, who worked as shoeshine boys in Kolkata. The boys had inadvertently come across a treasure chest which fell off a van belonging to a bank. They divided the spoils amongst themselves and went back to their native places, only to be nabbed by the long arm of the police and that too within a matter of a few days.

This incident is proof of the fact that our police system is perfectly capable of doing its duty efficiently in double-quick time. Perhaps, they were empowered to do so because there was no interference from political or financially sound circles. May be they did it because the perpetrators would not grease their palms. No matter what the reason, the mission was accomplished, truly and well. The incident holds mirror to the general opinion of the common man about our police.

Conversely, we as a nation also look up to upright officers like Kiran Bedi or H T Sangliana as the totem pole of integrity and duty consciousness. May their tribe increase!

What is in a Name eh?

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

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

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

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

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.