Monday, January 3, 2011

Religion and Fanaticism

This morning a saw a note from my friend Dhurjati in which he expresses his outrage against religious fanaticism. 
He makes a very good point with Weinberg's comment:

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
  --  Steven Weinberg 

Agreeing totally with the above statement, I couldn't help but think of what my take on this was.

Well, to start with, I wasn't sure! I have never been very religious, but I sure enjoyed singing in the school choir, still enjoy carols, love listening to Baul and Sufi music, and absolutely adore the evening Azaan. I also drool about visiting temples, especially the ones that server rich-ghee laddoos (sweets) or khichdi to people who visit :) However, I do not believe in following any set patterns or rituals of having conversations with God--ranging from the "Please see me through this and I'll never ask anything else of you" to the "Hi there" or "Thank you" ones. 

I get it when people feel very strongly about the way they say their prayers, where they say them, and how they say them. To me these are entirely a matter of personal convenience, habit, and preference. Well, maybe not in that exact order but something close. What I don't understand is 'why' or 'how' people think that 'the Almighty/the many powers that be' is commissioned to ensure their betterment at the cost of "the others."

To the best of my limited knowledge, all (human) religions are institutions based on the fundamental promises and tenets of 'faith,' 'love,' and a sense of 'community.' And that doesn't help me figure out this entire "mine's better than yours," or "I don't like you cause you face xyz when you pray" business. If these weren't enough, there are people across religions who are ready to kill, harm, and justify all actions against other human beings in the name of religion.

Religions are nothing but institutions, and there can be no institution that stands on the basis of 'doing evil' or 'causing harm' to other human beings. As a corollary of Weinberg's statement, it has been observed multiple times across history how people have reformed themselves and went on to live a better ( less harmful :) and meaningful life by virtue of their faith in one or the other religion. 

Would you, for that matter, support the killing of another human being just because they support a different football club/nation?

It's the essence of fanaticism to 'justify' harmful, devious actions for a 'greater good' or 'better cause.' And that is what we should condemn, abhor, and criticize. If people tell you otherwise, ask them to get a life and, probably, shake a leg!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Midnight Ramblings

2'o clock in the night...three friends, all at different levels of inebriation, sitting listening to the soundtrack of the movie they just watched (FYI: Wake Up Sid)....

one of them slightly older than the other two....one very happily tapping away at the book on his lap, which by the way is a book on Hinduism and the philosophy of Swami Vivekanada...the other, a sensitive, free spirit, uncharacteristically chirpy and effervescent tonight...sitting relaxed on the chair to the extreme right...

the conversations veer from the characters of the movie they watched most recently to a funny incident a couple hours ago...in the wake of an on-screen conversation around "how's your sex life" a toddler started wailing uncontrollably...

they resolve to spend the night chatting...not to sleep...if at all, crash around 5 or 6 in the morning...what'll they talk about...none of them seem to be in a position to continuously hold conversation around any topic....their conversation keeps veering from topic to topic...with the film being the anchor that keeps it going...

they deliberate if there are any watering holes open around this time...surprisingly, it's the unusually chirpy one that brings up this topic....what if their favorite pub were open ? but they seem to bear the adolescence of the city they live in with amazing stoicness...while the happy one starts humming "Oh Darling," a recent track from a movie they watched a few weeks ago compensates for the lack of melody in his voice...

At this moment...I ask for a story....

a spontaneous hug later...Hinduism lying unattended on the table, he starts jiving to the tune....shit! an unintentional change of track leads to momentary disappointment...but in seconds, we're back on track...the craft of a veteran poet and lyricist find company in a blink-and-you-miss-it embrace, a couple spontaneous steps and the comfort of the bed after a long day....

discussions on creating playlists on iTunes...the fragrance of the soil, fresh after the rains from the land of the erstwhile five rivers and unobtrusive tapping of all six feet in the room...

longing glances from the bed and unfazed concentration on the laptop...time i retired to my room downstairs? while the tempo sears up on iTunes and the search for future members of the current playlist continues, spirits liven up further in the room, perhaps acknowledging the lack of bottled spirits, sigh! and there goes Bob Marley... crying desperately for a sense of history...how i wish people gave history a chance!

unwieldy tresses join the fray with a little orchestration...bob marley's presence notwithstanding...in some corner of the globe, mothers playfully tell their kids their noses could be fixed with a little help from the ubiquitous kitchen, well too,l for the lack of a better word....

well, we all studied history at school...nothing so great about it....so, the eternal lover boy of bollywood easily bypasses Marley and a song he didn't sing but lip-synched to now joins the melangee

desperate pushing back of sleep...unfazed attention to the laptop...a PJ that draws me to the conversation...i quietly slip back...requests of playing tequila sunrise...tired bodies...and confident promises of fighting sleep provide the prelude to The Eagles' famous track....the attention now meanders to the FC Barcelona tee while comic jibes at the lack of nationalism infuse the air....

Now more than ever it seems rich to die/To cease upon the midnight with no pain....long, long ago a sickly poet in a wet, cold part of the world immortalized these lines with his death a few years after penning these lines...well, if not the invocation of death but the celebration of timelessness will live much longer...

i am brought back to the room...the neglected minstrel of the god-forsaken city we all belong to croons away to glory...why is decadence so painfully appealing?...he taught all of us to love the city...cities...and made us sit up to the ballads of the back-alley people...more of him sometime later...god rest his soul in peace...the city with its sights, sounds and people will probably continue to haunt him even after death...

the night eggs me on...we laze around sleepless, while a popular bengali singer weaves his magic,,,for a change, he doesn't ignore the physicality of love...memories of almost forgotten concerts haunt me...invisible threads joining vignettes from the past spread its wings of fancy...i half wish i could be transported to another world....one that i have left behind...

the constraints of the medium of my expression surface in front of me...need to stop typing as my laptop is almost running out of power...well, lamest of all excuses that it is...i probably am too tired to continue this worthless experimentation of a writing exercise...see you later, friend...do drop by sometime....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My New Wallpaper

Created this wallpaper for my Macbook. I have been using Ubuntu Studio via VMware for a week now, and love the power of two OSs on one system.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In Conversation: I and Me

What do you do at times when you desperately want to talk to someone, anyone for that matter? You have thuoghts, emotions, very powerful ones welling up inside you that need a reciever if not a respondent. It just doesn't matter even if that person two hoots about you or your feelings/emotions or not. At such a point in time, all that you need is a release. Some way of letting all that lies pent up within you OUT.

I log in to gtalk. My luck! There's only one of my gmail contacts that are online at this point in time. And, guess what? It's me again! I had added my work id to my gtalk for some strange reason, and today of all days, I am faced with the amazing gift of the online media. You can pretend that you are talking to another freind of yours when actually, it's no one else but you at the other end. Makes for brilliant psychological analysis or niche coffee table healing book material (probably) but just doesn't work for me!

I stare in frustration at the green dot that signals that 'I' am available to talk to 'me' and most importantly, that 'I' am the only person available to 'me.' Am I reading too much into the situation or is it some sort of cosmic truth that's being handed to me on a talk clinet (literally)? In this age, when distances have become a virtual concept, because you can 'actually' reach any of your friends at any time over chat, phone, email, social networking sites, you name it, do we still have only ourselves to trust and sound out to when faced with cirses?

The answer is complex and one that I probably am the last person fit enough to answer. I also want to make it a point to state that it isn't that I don't have trustworthy frinds who I can share stuff with. I have very few, but very good friends and I treasure them and guard our fiendship like a hungry hound. But, I guess we have to accept that everything in this universe happens within a time frame. And in this frame of time, I can only talk to myself.

I try chatting across the chat clients on my desktop, but choose to use this notepad instead. There are things I need to sort out; first, with myself. I am confused, frustrated, scared of the unknown that I want to venture into. Also, I feel very vulnerable and weak. But this isn't what I want to be. I have been looking for an answer for quite some time now, and it has made me impatient. But I guess I have known the answer all along. This discussion just made it clear as daylight to me. I needed a strong affirmation from 'me' that I'm thinking right, that the path I want to tread is the right path for me (at least at this point in time), and more than anythign else, that I can. I can be what I want to be; who I want to be. No matter what I'm given to believe by whoever, I am ME. 

Thanks buddy! Thanks for signing off on my appraisal of me. It was great talking to you, and you know what? I don't give a shit to any nonsense anymore; I won't take it lying down anymore. I have gotten my answer and will make sure I reach 'my' destination.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Winter Morning Long Ago

[Don't have a reason but thought I'd go ahead and post this today. It has been lying in my 'Documents' for over a year now. Is it wise to post it? Not sure if it even makes sense...nevertheless...]


A soft morning glow stretches across the sky. From up here, the distant skyline looks a tinge of light pink on the right. On the left, it’s still dark, and the houses of Fulbari are a mere haze. I feel my body awaken to a gentle tremor which makes me sit up. I don’t know why it’s always the same. I sit up, strain my eyes for any sign of movement in the northernmost horizon. There isn’t any. I know there won’t be any though I can definitely feel the tremor gradually increasing in intensity. I look down to see a hazy reflection in the water which runs almost gleefully away. There is a sense of expectancy in the air that is difficult to ignore. I try and gather my shirt around me a little tightly as if to counter the steady wind that makes my eyes burn. I keep wiping the trickles though I am not crying. It feels funny and all of a sudden I am seized with an uncontrollable urge to do something. I stand up. Throwing my slippers away in between the lines of cold steel i pull myself up to the best of my abilities drawing heavy gusts of breath. The chill almost hits the insides of my nostrils making a slight chill go down my spine. It’s not fear. It’s the excitement the makes your nerves tense for a second before relaxing into a state controlled unrest that eggs you on to take the plunge.

 

The tremor isn’t feeble any more. I can feel the cold steel vibrate under my feet. The northern horizon, barely a hundred yards away is still a curtain of mist and darkness but there is something beyond it that is steadily making its presence or progression felt. This is the moment. I turn left to see the houses of Fulbari once, fix my gaze on the north, turn right and let my instincts take over my reason. With a swift movement I heave my body off my feet and lunge in the air. The northern horizon a disturbed film of motion, noise, and smoke now, I stretch my right feet and land on the other end. My body still trying to regain the balance after a long jump, the morning local tears past signaling the official arrival of the new day.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Hate...

Well, it feels really surreal to be writing this...probably I've lost it or am going to pretty soon. But the fact is that I never thought I 'hate' something. The idea of hating something or someone seemed really appaling. Not that it was a philosophical stance or anything but just that, until very recently, I used to think that I'm capable of dealing with things, people, situations...not a problem, I can always 'think my way through.' 'You don't always have to react, right.' 'Just take it cool, think things through and you'll know what to do, how to react bla bla. Give people (peace) a chance.

Urrrrrrgh. Nonsense. You can give people a chance only if they are willing to give themselves or you a chance; not otherwise. And,  my friend, that's where the problem lies. That's why I 'hate'
situations where everyone is equally frustrated and incapacitated cause they really can't do much to help. As a result, they play the one-up game. You wanna see, I can flex my muscles here, just you wait, gotcha! You think I'm going to give you an easy time? Well, do I get it? Wait and watch how I screw things up for you.

What's the solution? I really don't know yaar. I think it'd help if everybody came clean and just vented 'out' and not 'at' someone. Why can't everybody say, look here I'm really fucked up, and there isn't a lot I can do about it; can you help? 

Let's face it. There isn't going to be a second coming anytime soon (no religious sentiments please, I'm being literal) and I don't see any messaih around. The ones who claim to be are even more fucked up than you can imagine. So, it's really up to you. Do you want to necessarily hurt someone or do you want someone to listen to you, say you're going to be alright, maybe. offer a pat on the back?

Be ready to lay bare. Don't hide your wounds. You're creating more by doing that. Remember, it's never too damn late.



Sunday, March 1, 2009

You and I


I've lost count of the times that I tried
To give vent to my thoughts and cough up
Or maybe, tweak and turn it a little
Flirting with the flitting words that I 
Always wanted to say

Call it providence, sloth or guile, what you will
I know it's not fair, not done.
Why couldn't you? Just say it!
Yes, it's not like it has to be creative
Or perfect. Just plain stupid would do!

Why does it alwyas have to be like this
I mean some things are better felt
Than 'said.' Anyways, I bet she knows!
Does she? Oh wouldn't she have...
Nopes, she won't. I have to...

----
So, here it goes. "You know what..."
And the rest is...well, if not history
Something no one remembers for sure.
Don't! Oh please, now they wouldn't agree
But you see, that doesn't matter anymore

The truth is there for all the world to see.