Monthly Archives: January 2010

Frog & Scorpion Retold

The basic nature never changes. As the poet Waris Shah said it hundreds years ago. He said “Waris Shah na adtaan jandiyan ne, bhaven katiye porian porian ji” meaning come what may, the habits never die. Same lesson is sought to be conveyed by the fable “frog and scorpion” which is commonly attributed to Aesop though the authenticity of this claim is contested by some authorities. Any way here we are concerned with the fable and what it tells.

Once upon a time a scorpion needs to go to the other side of the river. He knows no swimming and is in great trouble and sits sadly by the edge of river. Suddenly, he chances upon a frog in the water. He begs the frog to take him to the other side of the river. The frog is very apprehensive and fears the deathly sting of the scorpion. He tells his fear to the scorpion and expresses his inability to take it to other side.

The scorpion sincerely promises not to sting and tells the frog that death of frog will certainly result  in his own death. Thus convinced, the frog puts the scorpion on his back and begins his journey towards the opposite end of the river little knowing that it is his last journey. As they are in the middle, without any rhyme or reason, the scorpion stings the frog. Frog is dying and drowning. He asks the scorpion why did he do this to which the scorpion replies innocently without any remorse that he cannot help it because it is in his nature. It is built in in his behavior.

Most of time, the behavior of many a fellows’ partners is like that of scorpion. They are hoping and hoping and doing whatever is liked by their partners but it results in no improvement in their stinging behavior. Never do they feel any remorse. Most of them even don’t feel anything because it in their nature to behave like that and to them there is no oddity in their behavior. They keep on trying despite getting insulted, degraded and rebuked for after all the hope burns eternally in the breast of most human beings. They keep on waiting for the day when something will change, when the behavior of their partners will change.

The story of H2O Molecule

I am a molecule of water. Hydrogen and Oxygen are two elements which combine in the ratio of 2 to 1 to create me. I have abundant siblings on the earth. In fact we make up for about 70% of the earth. I am so small that I can enter into smallest of spaces. My birth place is in the space. We all are so identical that it is impossible to label us with names. We all have only one name and that is water. there are species called homo sapiens  After birth I along with my other brothers began living in a place which people started calling the seas. In the beginning we all lived in one place but many upheavals separated us and we were divided into many parts.

We are always in the ceaseless state of movement. Never had time to rest. We chase each other, collide with each other and collide with surroundings. Some of us move and dance faster than others. When the agile ones get tired, they slow down and hand over the baton to sluggards who in turn become agile. But we are bound to each other. But when the Sun is angry and it is hot, some of us are thrown out from the sea and fly up and up. Then we float aimlessly in the atmosphere. We wander from here and there. But we again come together at places which are cool such as above the mountains and rich vegetation. We join one another so tightly that we cannot remain afloat. We begin to fall towards earth.

So of us fall on the mountains where temperatures are so low that we become hibernated and enter a deeper and longer sleep. Others fall directly on the earth where they flow collectively as one body and travels from high altitudes to low altitudes. Some of us are very curious and collect inside the depression and become confined there for very long periods.  Other more adventurous even penetrate the earth and go deep inside it and remain there for thousands of years. During our journey on the land we take with us members of other communities which disintegrate inside us into their individual entities. Some of us joined on the way with others become a mammoth creature called the river and flow towards our home at sea. It can take us 2 to 6 months time for reaching back.

Our brothers in the confined places called lakes and ponds have to wait  much much longer to reach home. When Sun smiles benignly on them, some of us again escape into the atmosphere and if lucky go back either falling directly into the sea or falling again on the earth and joining the other which have already begun their journey towards home in the form of river.

Panjnad, Satnad & Triveni

Prayag in Allahabad is the place of confluence of Ganges , Yamuna & Saraswati rivers. The place is revered by Hindus and is one of the four places where a great fair called Kumbh Melais held which is attended by many hundred thousand pilgrims. It is said that holy dip in the confluence waters purifies a person washing all his sins. These are beliefs and metaphors because the sins and good deeds do not cling to the body like grime or clothes which even a good scrubbing and soap bath washes away. These are the things which depend upon individuals way of taking it. Most of the Indians are gullible and of herd mentality. This is evident from the blind faith they put into the so called innumerable holy men who take them for ride. Every other day we hear stories about their deeds of corruption, twisting of law, grabbing of lands, silent rapes committed by them in their Ashrams. Public memory being short, these events are easily forgotten. Second reason is that the followers don’t question or do the logical analysis of whatever is said, neither do they tolerate to hear anyone questioning these ideas.

Let us come back to the main subject after this detour. It is not impossible since we have not gone too far. So we are talking about the great river Ganges which is not only considered as a body of water but also a Goddess. She was brought to earth for the salvation of the land and sons of Bhagirath. Though not happy to condescend and come down to earth, she was nevertheless bound to obey the orders, she had to come down to earth. Seeing her fury, the Shiva: the savior of Gods and life, took all the impact of Ganges on his head and smothered her to become less aggressive and benevolent stream.

Even from the physical point of view, it sustains and nourishes almost all of  India in the North from West to East. It enriches the soil and makes it so fertile to grow crops in plenty. On reaching the end of its journey near Calcutta, where it splits into many parts and along with Brahmaputra, the only river with masculine name, which also reaches the final destination, it forms the world’s biggest and most fertile delta called Sundarbans.

Similarly, many great rivers flow into the plains of Punjab and Sind. They also originate in the Glaciers of Himalayas but flow towards Arabian sea. These are five rivers namely Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab, Beas and Sutlej. In fact the name Punjab is derived from two words namely Panj and Aab, meaning five and rivers respectively. So Punjab is the land of five rivers. These rivers are not so mighty as Ganges. These rivers also join successively to one another. One branch is formed by joining of Jhelum, Chenab & Sutlej and becomes Chenab, the other two acting as tributaries. Second branch is formed by merging of Beas into Sutlej. On proceeding south west, these two branches join at a place called Panjnad, which literally translates to five rivers. This confluence should have been as important from the religious point of view as the confluence of Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad. Why this has not happened, I don’t know. Although as we know the great civilization of Indus Valley flourished in Punjab and Sind areas mainly. In fact, Harappa and Moenjodaro were the most important centers of this civilization situated on the Indus river. But research has shown that it was spread all over Punjab, Sind and Gujarat up to Ganges in the Western Uttar Pradesh.

Flowing further south, Panjnad the joins another great river Indus and their confluence is called Satnad, the seven rivers.  Just before joining with Panjnad, Indus also receives water from another tributary called Afghan river. This place should have been even more importance. From here Arabian sea is waiting to receive this great river which forms Indus delta before falling into the sea.

Versoli Beach

The coastline of India on the West side seems like the pages of book which have been chewed randomly by the termite. The water wedges deep inside the land in the form of creeks at so many places across the coast. Alongside the road to Alibaug from Panvel, one treads parallel to sea coast. There are small hillocks and the vista is full of features. The road is simply zigzag at many place. There are dense patches of vegetation on both sides of the road. Many small rivers which drain into the sea come across and there are bridges to cross them.

Monkeys can be seen right on the roadside near Karnala where a bird sanctuary exists. It is almost in the neglected state of maintenance. Only the woods are beautiful and have survived the human encroachment. Versoli beach is two three kilometers before reaching the Ali Baug town. You have to take a detour towards right hand to reach the village jutting the beach. There is a person standing at a crossing of the village charging money for entry into the town. On reaching the beach, another party of money collectors is standing. They explained that this money goes into the upkeep of the beach.

All the beaches seem alike to me except the difference in the cleanliness. People in India has typical attitude towards the enjoyment. It can be stated as “enjoy today and enjoy for yourself only”. Whosoever goes there thinks it as their right to litter the beach with polythene bags and water bottles. The aborigines are better than most city dwellers because they are not curious about the nature and think it as a part of their lives. They are not excited like the city people who start jumping and kicking and littering the place thinking that it is the authorities or other people whose duty it is to clean the house.

Anyway, we reached the beach. We took our lunch which we had packed from our home with us. We were particular about collecting the refuse into a bag and bring it back to properly dispose it. There are trees with coniferous leaves on the shore. These also are found on every beach near Mumbai. There was almost no clean place to sit. There are no benches erected on the shores to sit on and enjoy the spectacle of the sea.

It was a low tide and water has receded deep into the sea. The area exposed was almost blackish sand with clay. It is a beach formed by low energy tides. So you will see less sand more clay. The waves which were breaking at that time we went inside the sea were of very low height. They broke without causing any hissing sound. There were clumps of stones and pebbles hidden underneath the water. They are so sharp that they will cut your feet like knives. There are no warning signs. In fact, no attempts have been made to make the visit of tourist a pleasant experience.

Within half an hour, you will feel like going back. Many people because of lack any novelties resort to playing the cricket on the beach to while away the time. In my opinion, if you have visited one beach you need not to visit another one. All are same. Yes there are some interesting places like a Fort on the island near Murud Janjira beach. You have to take a boat to reach it.

Dawn & Dusk

Dawn and dusk are the times when day and night loose their individuality and melt into one another. If a person has been in sleep and just rises up at dusk or dawn, it will be difficult for him to tell whether it is dawn or whether it is dusk. From the womb of dawn, day is born and from the womb of dusk night is born. This happens with an uncanny rotations. Other things like climate can change and show anomalous behavior but not the day and night.

Day and night are events which are chasing one another but never meet. They are complementary, only one is there and other is away. Only at dawn and dusk they become one and have dual character like an hermaphrodite. Like the God Shiva in the form of “ardhnarieshwara”: half man and half woman. Like one of the speculations that  it was the great artist Da Vinci himself who is portrayed as Mona Lisa. After reading about of artist posing as a woman, I tried to find similarities between his usual picture sans beard and Mona Lisa. So many explanations are found about the enigmatic smile, but it is possible that Leonardo did not had anything in his mind while making this painting.

In India, dawn and dusk are very special times of the day and night cycle. You will hear chantings of religious hymns from Mosques, temples and Gurudwaras. These days with the availability of loudspeakers, everyone is trying to outdo others by blaring at the loudest. The natural peace is gone these days. Otherwise, you can hear the incessant chattering of sparrows in the boughs. There are mynahs prancing in the grass. Crows are the most voluble and crass. But they are the meanest and totally emotionless. They don’t spare anything which is weak or sick. In this they are the best bets for the Darwin’s theory of the survival of the best. Though the great man said it for the members of the same species. Weaker are eliminated during the progress of the time.

As we know that birds are closest living cousins of dinosaurs belonging to the same family. If you had the chance of seeing the crows walking slowly on the slanted edges of the roofs of the building, their silhouettes resemble the dinosaurs. The birds were more intelligent of the two. They evolved the front legs into feathers and became avian and escaped the marauders lurking to gobble them on the land. They also reduced their weight and size drastically to reduce their energy demands and maintenance of their bodies. It is due to these mutations in the positive direction that they are still there with us, while the gigantic cousins dinosaurs have gone long ago.

The dusk is when everyone is returning to the comfort of the home. In villages, this is the when the shepherds herd their cattle towards their homes. There is churning of the soil on the path and dust flies and scatters and hangs everywhere above the trodden path.  The bells tied in the cattle tinkle and announce their journey to home.  During early stages when there is still some light, the dust particles can be seen dancing in the air as the air is filtering and scattered from the particles. Due to the the dust kicked in the air by the cows, this time is also called “Goduli” which is concatenation of the words “Gau” meaning cow and “Duli” meaning the dust in Hindi. There are bells ringing in the temples and blowing of conches.  The hills look like pencil drawings and very soon loose their identity altogether so completely that a stranger person cannot tell that there are hills yonder. Dusk is also the time when plants stop making sugar and oxygen which sustains the animals including humans who are not capable of manufacturing their food. In the night time, the sun’s energy required to trigger the photosynthesis, is unavailable. In the night, plants consume some part of the sugars which they have synthesized during the day time to make their own body grow and stronger. Like us they exhale carbon dioxide in the night.

What is Peace?

It has been days I have felt peace and tranquility of mind. In fact it seems that I am living in a state oblivious of my state of mind. Neither do I ever feel that I am calm, neither do I feel very much excited.

What is peace after all? Some say it the state of mind when your body is in agreement with mind. There is no struggle between two of them. They seem to merge into one another. In the turbulent state of mind, mind it seems is detached from the body and hovering outside. Body and mind are completely out of sync.

My state of mind is not what Buddha advocated. The middle path. In the state advocated by Buddha, there is peace of mind. Mind is unaffected overly neither by moments of happiness nor by sorrows. It is most difficult to control the feeling  which comes when we are elated. We like the world to know that I am happy. When we are unhappy we seek the sympathizers.

What colour is the peace? Some say it is white while others say it is green. Pigeons are symbols of white colored peace while woods are the green colored peace. But pigeons though they don’t seem to harm others, supposed to be innocent and easy target for birds of prey, are very aggressive in the company of their ilk. They will fight with each other to scare away the weaker from the food. They seem to be deeply involved in the procreation. Their droppings are very corrosive and contain an enzyme. If they fall on the cars they can damage the paint of car if not removed timely. But the enzyme has been used in the tanneries to make the softest leather as the enzyme decomposes any flesh clinging on the hide. In fact, in Fez in Morocco, famous for the best leather in the world, droppings are in great demand.

Whatever the season, I always find the male pigeons dancing around the females wooing them for copulation. Woods as such seem to be beautiful from a distance. Enter into them and you will have to struggle to keep yourself safe from the animals harbored in them. There are woods which are so dense that even the sun rays find it difficult to penetrate.

Peace is in our minds, it comes from within. It is the way we perceive the world. Perceptions are different for different people.  Even the way we see around us depends upon whether we are happy or sad. During many moods, sometimes a thing which interested us greatly once holds no interest at a later time. Sometimes emotions seem to be cyclic in nature. We are interested in a particular thing, then lose interest in it and again some events happen which recreate the interest again.

You can be at peace with yourself, if you don’t have high desires and take the life as it comes.