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Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Case of a Curious Couple

While it was raining heavily and I was struggling to hold onto the plastic that covers the side of the auto rickshaw a newly wed couple came and boarded the same. Both of them looking every bit the ideal cast for the Bangoma-Bangomi couple that fairy tales have so vividly etched into our minds from our childhood days, they were panting with the exertion that the sudden downpour had inflicted upon them. The wife took the side seat at the rear and the husband the seat besides the driver in the front. What ensued was a fascinating conversation between them that I couldn't help laughing out to. Here is the transcript, albeit in Bengali, and intentionally kept untranslated to keep the essence unaltered :

Wife : (reasonably drenched) Acchha tomar pishi amake tar bou-er theke niye ekta notun saree porte debe to ?

Husband : (emphatically) Ekdom na!

Wife : tomar ki confidence!

Husband : boroncho boltey paare, ei durjoger diney naa aslei to hoto.

Wife : tomaari to pishi. bolbei to! (mischievous smile on her lips)

(after a deliberative pause) tomaake ei punjabitaay puro bangla cinema-r dushtu jomidaar-er moto laagchhey.

Husband: (to the auto-driver without paying heed to the aforesaid pseudo-compliment) achha amaderke nemey kotota haat-tey hobe ?

Autowallah: ei dhorun 4-5 minute.

Wife : ami kintu oto haat-tey paarbo na. ekta rickshaw koro. ( she was right considering the sheer workload that she would have to undertake on a walking expedition)

Autowallah: (with a sigh of understandable relief as the couple unboarded) koto dhoroner lok hoy sottyi.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sab Moh-o-Mayaa Hain !

Imagine yourself on a luxury cruise, savoring every bit of the sun and the sea (the other two ‘S’-es rendered forbidden by circumstance and sheer bad management), sipping coconut water in place of pina coladas and flirting with gay abandon pretty young things in curious saffron shorts when suddenly a booming voice from the public broadcast system instructs everyone to assemble at the peeth sthal for the evening sankirtan and satsang. Unimaginable? Not any more. When Baba Ramdev, that indefatigable crusader of Yog Shakti decides to take you on a spiritual joyride on a luxury cruise liner, all the way reminding you of the sheer futility of material pursuits and wealth you can bask in that pleasant contradiction but not question its feasibility. Though the planned cruise spanning seven full days of aatmic souch (soul cleansing) and yog sadhana may set you back by a small fortune the efficacy of such a voyage can hardly be undermined in context to the times that we are living in. Hence, Star Virgo, one of Asia’s biggest cruise liners is pressed into action and off we go on a trip to our inner beings, realizing in tranquil isolation the simple truths hitherto ignored when on polluted hinterlands. [for details click here ]

The trip which is to start with a visit to the Disneyland in Hong Kong (probably Baba’s way of establishing irony by starting the trip with comic symbolism, its very essence in every way i.e) also promises to make suitable stop-overs at the major shopping joints on the way in China and Vietnam. One conjectures this to be an act of gradual re-introduction of the affluent bhakt into the reality of the material world and its mindless pursuits after a week of enforced disengagement and renunciation. It evinces the minute detailing and meticulous planning that has gone into the making of the trip itinerary. Further probing into the matter reveals greater depths of management and foresight as one comes to terms with the awesome human engineering that promises to change the spiritual landscape of India very soon. The compelling genius of marrying the concept of a luxury cruise with the pressing necessity of the urban rich to de-stress and unwind deserves all accolades and reward, fiscal or otherwise.

Ramdev clarifies,

“Those who will be traveling on the cruise belong to upper or upper middle class families. Most of them suffer from stress and I will address this problem at my yoga sessions.”

The ones who are on the threshold of confusing Baba with a new-age avatar of Robin Hood surely belong to the blasphemous lot who had previously mistaken his cultured emaciation for protracted starvation in the Kalahandi region. Ramdev is not your regular saint who insists on insipid meditation and form twisting ashanas. He is the person to have revolutionized the art of popular yoga, making kapalbhati the new craze after ‘ek pal ka jeena.... stop the traffic, show your hands’ routine and taken the TRP of Astha channel to dizzy heights by sheer force of his oratory. The lull which had set into the persona-based Indian Spiritual Industry with the relegation of Chandraswami and Jayendra Saraswati has been favorably filled by someone of the stature of Ramdev. While he transforms traditional notions of spirituality with the same deftness and acumen as Lalit Modi is transforming cricket for the average enthusiast the involved observer will be waiting in all eagerness to see how the Saviour in Saffron fares in feeding the magic potion of faith, kriya and pranayam to the masses who would rather prefer the redeemable sin of little material pursuits which goes by the name of roti, kapda aur makaan..