The Osmosis of Life


Published in Today’s Deccan Herald

http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com

How often have we been told that God is One. It does not really matter which religion we profess, because ultimately we hope to realize the Truth that has the world functioning the way it is. Every religion aims at establishing peace and harmony in the universe using the same key ingredients. All streams of theology swear by the power of truth and compassion and urges man to become better than himself morally to attain spiritual fulfillment.

The Keshava Smrithi, clearly states that, just like rain water reaches the sea one way or another, so also the obeisance rendered to various gods reach Keshava. In other words, the import of the Shloka highlights the fact that there is only one God, no matter what we call him. While comparing prayers to rain water, the couplet gently points out the scientific principle of how the waters of the oceans evaporate, form clouds and precipitate as rains. The rain in turn contributes to the various water bodies on earth eventually flows back to the sea. So also, we could be worshipping the supreme power in many different ways. Yet the spirit of prayer, the intensity of faith and the awe we have for the almighty is the same. If our appeals are fervent and sincere we do not have to worry about the method for our prayers will surely be answered in one way or another.

When we analyze the idea pragmatically, it still makes sense. We know that water finds its own level. The concept of osmosis has proved the theory of equalization. Water helps life of all genres to emerge, evolve and sustain no matter how large, deep or pure it may be.

It is interesting to note that the very practical osmotic process has a very lofty philosophical connotation. If people understand that the underlying principle of every way of life is essentially the same, we can thrive in an integrated way despite the vast diversity.

 

 

Once Upon A Time


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-in-the-middle/once-upon-a-time-764291.html

We are often told to keep the child in us alive. I have tried. It does make life lighter. We are also told reading habit can enrich our minds.  I have spent the best part of my formative years curled up with books of all genres. It has lent its wings to my imagination. I can vouch for that. However, these boons of life have a flipside too!

There are certain things which seemed so perfect once upon a time. I would have happily given a limb or two to realise those dreams. Yet when those very fantasies gain physicality today, they render themselves cumbersome.

For instance, the snow! The whiteness of it and its freezing touch which I read so often about in books fascinated me no end. I longed to live in an igloo, under steely grey skies, wearing parkas and making my own fishing hole when I needed amusement.

My fascination for white Christmases, snowstorms and hail seemed to unfold ceaselessly till I actually experienced snow. The cold, wet feeling which not only dampened my clothes and bones besides  my spirits led me to examine my weird wish which was expressed explicitly many times over when I was living in the truly salubrious weather of Namma Bengaluru all those decades ago.

As a child, I would invariably contract a crick in my neck craning at the occasional aeroplane flying in the skies. I would yearn to fly high among the clouds and help myself to a fistful of the toffees that were supposed to be offered by the airhostesses. Today, when I wait indefinitely at airports and get cramped in aircrafts that do not offer anything to soothe the sweet tooth I crave for the magic carpet!

The endless picnics, delightful tuck boxes and midnight feasts described by Enid Blyton in her various series of books left me drooling. A comic book where Donald duck and his three nephews lazed around on sun beds sipping lemonade from a lake which was filled to the brim with the drink was my ultimate food fantasy. I dreamt relentlessly about having orgies of junk food around the designer lake! I knew little about calorie intake, its effects on health and fitness.

One of the large castles, palaces, ranches, country houses, cottages and bungalows which peopled the protagonists of many stories would metamorphose into my dream home for a while till I took fancy to a new one. Those were the days when I had no inkling about real estate market, cost of interior decoration or the multidimensional aspects of housekeeping.

At the end of every fairytale in which began with once upon a time and end with lived happily ever after; I would wonder why all the stories ended the same way. Adult life changed all that and more. When life unfolded its vagaries which were always not pleasant, I long to be a child again and seek solace in the hope of a happy ending!

 

 

Musings on a Maidless Morning


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/musings-maidless-morning-721538.html

Every time our maid takes off without compunction or notice for valid and invalid reasons, I promise myself to buy myself an Alladin’s lamp. The genie would solve all my problems. However that has remained in the domains of wishful thinking till date. I have often wondered if the brainy Jeeves could materialize and shimmer in to do my chores with the same élan with which he helps his young master to sail out of troubles. Yet the mere memory of his subtly sly ways to achieve his agenda at any cost makes me think twice about my choice.

I remember what Letitia  Baldridge once said, “ When in doubt look what everyone else is doing.” Since I know that practically everyone in my radar is bearing crosses of different densities on maid miseries, I practically have nowhere to look.  So, I decided to travel down the aisles of history and literature and tried to figure out what has gone wrong collectively with our generation of employers of domestic help? Why is it that we are not able to awaken a spirit of loyalty amongst our helpers like our ancestors did?

We certainly do not expect the likes of the nursemaid like Panna Dhai who quietly replaced her own bundle of joy in the place of the baby prince in waiting of Mewar only to be killed mercilessly. Nor do we expect a reliable slave like Jamal ud din Yaqut who stood by Razia Sultana through thick and thin.  I am sure that none of us expect the cruel alacrity displayed by Malik Kafur in the movie Padmavat when he killed two royals in response to a question that was mouthed in half jest by his brand new master.

Following feudal system or enslaving individuals or practising bonded labour is completely unthinkable, for the law of the land forbids it. Movies, soap operas and novels which showcase “old faithfuls” do not seem to have inspired the blue collared lot, nor has all the entertainment been  able to educate employers on the secret of retaining employees successfully. Common sense quotients like regular increments, generous gifts, timely loans and advance payments do not seem to change their ideas of accountability.

House helps have become a tribe who can be loved or hated but can never be ignored. It will certainly do us a world of good when we accept that they are also people like us and they do need to take off. Never mind if they disappear way too often. So the long and short of it is to just figure out a way to function well in their absence. Then, watch out for Zen like calmness that will ensconce your person once you get into the Swalpa Adjust Madkoli mode!

 

Of Mint Condition


https://www.deccanherald.com/living/food-fiesta/mint-condition-695741.html

Our very own Pudina or Mint probably has the distinction of being the ubiquitous herb in Afro Asian, European and Australian cuisine alike. The gaily green leaves which lend a sense of freshness, besides lending its unique smell and taste have made it a universal favourite.

If you follow certain thumb rules while using mint leaves, you can extract the best out of it. Did you know that cutting the leaves is a complete no-no for it can destroy its intrinsic goodness? You can crush the leaves with your fingers while garnishing juices, smoothies, salads and raithas to get the best effect. If you are planning to use the greens to flavour chutneys, gravies or curries make sure that you sauté the whole leaves before adding it to the main dish. If your recipe expects you to grind mint leaves along, remember that fresh leaves can alter the taste just heat the leaves on a tawa or in a pan so that it loses its moisture content and then grind the same.

Though many people add mint leaves to fried snacks like pakodas or sundried Pappads and Khakras, your discerning taste buds must have realized that the Pudina neither smells nor tastes as you expect it to. That is because; the herb loses its flavour when exposed to extreme heat. If you really care for mint then avoid using the leaves to flavour the mentioned dishes, instead you can eat them with Pudina chutney.

Sometimes we may end up buying more mint than we need. One of the best ways to preserve Pudina is to wrap the leaves in a newspaper and leave it in the refrigerator. Make sure that you discard the yellowed or blackened leaves for they can play spoilsport to your star dish.

Pudina leaves added to flavour your tea, lime water, rasams and even your water can not only tickle your tastebuds but can comfort your tummy too!

Dealing With the Dubious


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/514770/dealing-dubious.html

When cheating cases are investigated, it is interesting to note that everyone of them has been based on trust.

The individual or organisation works hard at winning the confidence of the people whom they propose to swindle. The evil masterminds devise ways and means to
play fair or at least appear fair. They leave no stone unturned, plug in all the loopholes and put on their best behaviour to woo the people whose wealth they plan to deceive.

A story from the Panchatantra teaches us how to deal with such dubious people or organisations.

Once an old crane realised that he was no longer agile and alert to fish for food. He was too conceited to seek help. Therefore, he made a devious plan.

He stood on the edge of the lake and started shedding tears. A crab who lived in the pond wanted to know the reason for his sorrow. After much coaxing, the crane divulged that he was privy to a prophecy of a drought that would strike the region for the coming twelve years.

He said he was grieving for the helpless souls who would be losing their lives for no particular fault of theirs. Soon, this dreadful news was updated to all the inmates of the pond. They approached the crane one by one and asked him for a suitable solution.

Once the old crony was sure that all their attention was focused on him, he
generously offered to shift them all one at a time, once a day to another large water body which would not dry up despite the famine. The eager creatures lapped up his offer gratefully.

The old crane commenced with his charitable act of helping the fish migrate. He would fly a while with his passenger and then polish him off for lunch, only to make a meal of another fish the following day. No one suspected anything foul in the happenings.

A couple of days later, the crab requested the crane to shift him. The crane who wanted a change of taste, happily agreed to help the crab. The following day, when the old bird was flying along his regular route with the crab on his back, the crustacean saw a number of fish bones piled on a rock.

He was intelligent enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together. He felt sorry for his gullible pond mates. He decided to avenge their unfair death and also save his own life and promptly strangled the crane to death.

The common man who has been conned will be able to trace a pattern in the  crime if he pays enough attention. If all the victims of the fraud come together and expose the malefactor, the law of the land will take care of the rest.

Values Can Never Become Outdated


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/84517/values-never-become-outdated.html

Enterprising young people can become achievers by juxtaposing creativity with wisdom.

Century after century youngsters have visualised life to be exhilarating and invigorating. One cannot deny that their realms are filled with immense amazement, novelty, enjoyment and satisfaction in leading their lives in their own terms in accordance to the contemporary developments and requirements. Eventually they grow up and many find that the realities of the world are very different from how they perceived them to be.

Perhaps this is the reason why they become bitter and promptly discourage their successors from experimenting with new ways of life — what they are actually doing is paving way for yet another vicious cycle.

The adults universally find that, “The world of youth has changed noticeably and there appears to be a revised version of social behaviour, etiquette, communication and interpersonal skills. We are living in a world where humility has given way to self-appraisal, demure behaviour to brazenness to a degree, discipline has to laxity, gentleness to a certain amount of boisterousness while dignified presence is usually reserved for solemn occasions for being outgoing, cool and whacky is the name of the game.”

Generation gap

These remarks in the behavioural pattern of youngsters make one wonder where the lacuna lies. The youth for their part blame the much clichéd ‘generation gap’. It certainly sounds redemptive for when adolescents of the day have thrown caution to the winds and have decided to give vent to their feelings candidly through their speech, dress, appearance and the way they relate to the world around them. While they certainly display a new social order through their personality do they also reflect how they feel from within?

Unfortunately, to most youngsters, youth spells out thrill, titillation, and dwelling over inconsequential trifles and frittering away time. They are insensitive to the realities of the world around them. They seem to be wholly unaware of the current events except in areas which interest them. The media and internet which provides any information under the sun at the click of the button is not availed judiciously by many. Then there are others who glean information but do nothing about imbibing knowledge or apply the concepts in their daily life. Reading habit appears to be hibernating. It is very disheartening to note that many do not even pursue hobbies with a passion. They have clearly lost the power of observation which makes them blind to the subtle spiritual realities of unified sensibility in terms of time and space and in terms of thoughts and emotions.

After wading knee deep through the sea of youth very few find that they have been able to take it beyond being cool and happening. When ruminating on the subject one realises that every generation liked the idea of being different in one’s youth. Most youngsters have tried their ‘level best’ to have trodden away from the ‘beaten path’ for the simple reason that they want to stand apart in a crowd. Their aim has always been the same, though the approach may have been different. But what most young people fail to realise is the fact that just being different is miles away from making a difference.

A journey through the annals of time will reveal that youth from several walks of life across the globe had endeavoured to make a difference and did succeed in doing so just because they chose to experiment with new thoughts and ideas with conviction. The vagaries of life, its insinuations, exaggerations, subtleties and its spiritual connotations appealed to them. They understood that they were a part of the universe and living in harmony with the forces of nature and with integrity was the only recourse for a better life. A committed approach towards their respective goals with this basic knowledge led them to undisputed success.

Enterprising young people can become achievers by juxtaposing creativity with wisdom. The emotional and intellectual impressions they gather at this impressionable age can actually go a long way in etching their personalities. If their learning experience is suitably seasoned with wit, logic and a generous dose of enthusiasm the results are likely to be spectacular.

It is important that youth realise that ‘being different’ in the real sense of the word requires a lot of substance by way of knowledge, and an ability to connect their observations with their learning. They must realise that the people in the past had also been young sometime and had, had their share of experimental thinking, but what really stands the test of time is something that has a universal appeal across barriers of time and space. Values like truth and integrity coupled with compassion can never really become outdated if one wants to be a ‘path breaker’ in right earnest!