Con-monitization – The 5 legged Cow in a moving Temple

On the 10th of May, I was traveling from Madikeri to Mysuru & saw this unusual looking 4-wheeler in front of us near Kamplapura. I was craning my neck to get a clear view as it was cloudy, raining & mad driving in a 2-way lane. That’s when my husband said look at the extra limb on cow’s back & the people are taking advantage of its deformity. He continued, see how the vehicle is modified into look like a shrine, picture of one of the prophets is kept decked with flowers & the cow is made to look holy! The 3-ladies & the driver, & perhaps even some more might be making a living out of the deformity of the cow!!

Like prostitution, conning is one of the oldest professions in the world. Akin to the prey & the predator of the jungle, wherever “innocent victims” congregate, the Salesmen “concentrate”.

I call it CON-monetization (en-cashing on the innocence, ignorance & helplessness of poor people in a cunning way). One has to marvel at their ingenuity, creativity & the ability to fool their fellow beings. Looking at them I remember a famous line from the Kirtane of Kannada Saint Composer Kanakadasa (1509-1609): Ellaru madu-vudu hotte-gagi genu batte-gagi {Ellaru = every one, maduvudu = doing or does, hottegagi = for the sake of stomach, genu = a measurement from the finger tip till the elbow & battegagi = for clothing. In short, everyone is working to fill one’s stomach} be it a King or a pauper, thief or saint, etc., etc. Ironically that piece of cloth is what differentiates the humans from the rest of the living being who walks vertical & has no natural cover!

cow.jpg

After the mystery of Mother Nature, it’s Religion that always fascinates me. Often I wonder who coined, designed, shaped & coloured something called religion. It’s soft & fragile as a new born, beautiful as a flower petal, fragrant as jasmine, stronger than a earth quake, powerful than a tsunami, brighter like Sun, darker like moon lunar, blind as a mud snake, deaf & dumb like each other & definitely the most used, misused & abused aspect of human life. It has taken more lives & spilt more blood than anything else in the history of mankind. As a Kodava, I am privileged not to be bound or bundled by something called religion & it gives me both an edge to privacy while freedom to watch & learn. I find it very funny when someone tries to lure me (twice I experienced) with the classic “you are such a nice person, you must read our book, it has so many merits” … (I have no idea if there is shortage of good people…) & want to tell them to be humans first & then think of religion.

It happens only in India… In India Religious con-monetization & fooling is not just limited to Hinduism but practically wide spread in almost every religion though in different fashions. For example one of the Religions from Middle East has made their Prophet from almost God status into a pure Ghost-Buster (remember the movie & the music?). I am not sure if the Prophet was married or not, wondering what status they would have given her… a she-ghost-buster or a she-warlock? The Religious Salesmen are pro-monetizing* the innocent, the ignorant & the helpless by promising protection from the current & the future ghosts for generations to come!! Guess the entire community of ghosts from India including the ones from Kukkarhalli kere goes to these religious congregations seeking solace & comical action. (*Pro-monetizing, I just made up the word meaning buying human bakras (goats) by converting to boost the volume to accommodate more ghosts even from overseas).

I was under the impression that Black magic & Ghosts doesn’t belong to any particular religion… LoL the possessing of Ghosts & the powers of Priestly Salesmen are so funny I can’t just stop laughing… if anyone wants a good laugh for free without going to a standup comedy show you can watch one too many strange & funny videos on you-tube…

Everyone will do anything for the sake of filling the stomach be it in a righteous or in an unrighteous manner. It will continue to be till the last man on earth survives & sadly religion is the easiest guise to cover up the con.

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Changing face of South Karnataka… are we headed for a severe drought?

I hope i’m wrong about the title’s question, but the signs are everywhere. Kodguku poopo (going to Coorg) always brings me a feel-good feeling. It’s like melting chocolate to the mind.  As soon as we enter the Anechowkoor border gate, my husband will say do you feel the change? Then I would add I was about to ask you!! The sight, the smell & the sounds stirring suddenly awakens something coiled up somewhere perhaps in a Pandora’s box. Nostalgic memories are unique to each individual, once a Lebanese colleague of mine told me, you will not believe me if I say I love the smell of burning garbage… it’s the smell of childhood freedom from before the Civil War. Now if I see anywhere the burning garbage, her face pops in front of me reminding the word freedom!

Even though I keep visiting India, I have been away from home for too long & so much has happened in between & unfortunately the total scenario is different today. What Kodagu once was seems like from a different dimension altogether. Kodagu, once the green paradise is painting a different scenario today. I had to make trips to Mangalore, Kodagu & Chennai within a short span lately & the change in topography made me wonder if there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

While driving from Mysuru to Kodagu almost all the keres (lakes) have dried up. Belikere, once filled with original pink lotus dried up more than a decade ago but many others have joined the wagon in recent years. The big kere near Periapatna which always stood the test of time has lost its battle. So does many small ones. Some of them practically bone dry without a trace of its past. So what is going to be the future? There is practically no flow in the pole (rivers) & todu (creeks), the wells are showing the signs of drying unless they are close to the rivers. The Lakshmana Tirtha River flowing through Hunsur looks like a river from Mars with big boulders popping out & the almost stagnant water exploding with unlimited green weeds. I have no idea if it is good as it prevents the evaporation or if it is bad which might contaminates the drinking water. On the other hand the South Canara seemed greener & the lakes still wet, if not in a larger scale.

The scenario from Bangalore to Chennai is worlds apart & paints a different story. Most of the water clogged paddy fields are green & smiling with freshly transplanted paddy. More over almost all the Lakes are alive & pleasure to tired eyes. Some of the lakes might be fed from the Kaveri River but I am sure all of it is not. Even though Chennai is warmer than Kodagu, the evaporation seems to be less… that means it’s not Mr. Sun to be blamed but the depleting ground water level. So why is it losing the ground water so rapidly?

On the 11th of February 2017, we traveled from Madikeri to Mythadi around 11:30 pm after attending a wedding. The visibility on the way was almost near zero making it very, very difficult to drive. However I was happy to see the fog (or mist?) but when realized that the fog was sans moisture I could not believe my eyes. It was the first time I saw something like that as fog & mist known to me always left droplets on the plants & grass which gleamed like diamond in the rising sun, windows & wind screen. The weather pattern is surely changing.

River Kaveri originating from Kodagu joined by several tributaries becomes the life line of Karnataka & the Tamil Nadu. If the source is dried up or supply is curtailed then both drinking water as well as the crops will be disastrous. So I had to make a trip to KRS to check for myself the status of water level. In front of the nearby petrol station, the Nale (canal) seems to be barren & someone (a trader) was using the bridge to dry their consignment of blankets or carpets while hung as a colourful display as the herd of goats walked past with their herder. There were few transplanted wet lands dotting here and there. The dam level has retreated drastically & a gang of young men in trunks who had gone to take a dip were seen as little dots. On the way to new Kannambadi, a little drama was amalgamated on a pool of water with water tankers (supplying drinking water) moved on the rugged surface shaking its butt, men & women washed their cloths, someone was having bath, while someone else washed the buffalo, yet another washed the vehicles, as what seemed like few army personnel looked on. God protect the ones who drink that tanker water!! Meanwhile as usual my husband & I argued over taking a picture!

On the rugged tar road, 3 men were drying the hurali kalu (pulse) in the old fashioned way depending on the occasional vehicles going to the new Gopala swamy temple. We had a chat with them & as well as a group of men & women from the nearby village who came to spend time at the new temple (idols are not consecrated yet). They were telling there is no water in the bore well & new ones even upto 500 feet no water!

Even though certain level can be seen in the reservoir how much of the water can really be used? How much of it is silt deposit? No one can tell precisely.. sadly I don’t see any where anyone is controlling the consumption of water… seems like business as usual & everyone virtually behaves like there is no tomorrow.

Interestingly the Kukkahalli keri within the premises of Mysore University Campus, home to many migratory aquatic birds, which used to be full for as long as I can remember is been shrinking drastically. Inspite of that there are plans to turn it into money making machine by introducing boating, kayaking, etc. Bangalore is gone to dogs with the greed of blind politicians & builders, & ever increasing human waste & plastic. Sadly Mysore seems to be the next victim…

While I was growing up, my dear Kodagu had a good environmental balance. This balance was achieved by practicing harmony with the nature & flora & fauna in the form of a good relationship between human settlements, forests & water resources. The traditional cultivation of cardamom & coffee had kept the trees standing tall. The floor of the cardamom plantation never even saw sun light in the mid afternoon… kept the moisture safe {of course along with umbulu (leech)}. Deva-kadu (sacred groves) along with the reserved forest by the government made the district green & kept the fresh air intact. Punda pada (Bamboo bush) along the River & Creek banks kept the water from heavy evaporation & the banks being eroded. The expanse of paddy cultivation helped the ground to absorb the water leisurely along with the grass from the plains acting like sponge to retain the rain water. Cattle grazing maintained the bane (plains) like mowed landscape along with producing milk & organic fertilizer.

Birds sang & bees buzzed… The beautiful sound of everything happened around at dawn & dusk were a synchronized/rhythmic act of people & the nature in harmony. Evening watching the flock of birds flying home was a feast to eyes & their murmuration echoing around still echoes in my ears. The sunset had its own rhythm with the walking home of the herds of the cattle, mothers sometimes calling for their calves & the gante-mani (bell in the neck) ringing along their movements & the cicadas announcing their presence with tymbals. Early morning along with the fresh cool breeze came in the dawn chorus of birds creating an unusual melodious symphony with so many different specifies, as if they competed with each other in announcing to the universe I am the happiest & I am the happiest… the drops of water collected on the leaf of grass from the night long mist gleamed on the early morning sun like diamond with myriad of colours…

However sadly the entire scenario has almost vanished or vanishing into thin air like the moistureless mist I experienced on 11th February 2017 night. Now the excessive use of artificial fertilizers & pesticides seems to have not only sucked the insects & birds but also the land out of its natural immunity along with increased usage of land with ever increasing population. Cattles are a thing of the past & even the crows do not come for the rice offering for the soul.

So where does the fault line lies? Whom to blame for this environmental disaster? The human lives have become like the plastic flowers without smell or texture or soul. Should we blame the people who have changed everything around them in the name of modernization? Should we blame the pesticides & artificial manure & the countless hybrids popping around? Should we blame the increasing tourism & the ever increasing garbage & plastic? Should we blame the politicians for the greed of money-power-votes changed the scenario or the sand mafia or the paper making & matchbox making or uncontrolled population growth? I remember my parents grumbling every time a loaded timber or bamboo lorry passed by making a heavy engine sound while climbing uphill… there goes another load & mercilessly cutting the mother’s womb, chopped as if their father had planted them.

Either the strategic importance of Kodagu is underestimated or it is utter ignorance & short sighted, the use-misuse-abuse on Kodagu haven’t seems to be ending any time soon. Sadly in 2015 the state government played havoc with Tippu Jayanthi, hurting the psyche of the Kodavas & death of an innocent person in the name of vote banking drama. Now they want railways then high tension wire to pass through which will result in tree felling & link the streams & rivers, perhaps flooding part of the Kodagu in the bargain… The unreasonable state government (blinder than Kaurava parents) plans does not seems to ending any time sooner. There is a say that one life is not enough to make all the mistakes & learn from it… I think it’s time to use the God given common sense & work wisely than filling their coffers.

Last but not the least, to add further from old fashioned thinking, there is a belief in Kodava culture that Goddess Kaveri had promised them to keep Kodagu blessed with all her grace as long the Kodavas lived there. Now that many Kodavas moved out of Kodagu & also the traditional culture seems to be taking a big U turn. Did the rush to modernization & beautification of Talacauvery back fire?

Or perhaps a major earth quake is brewing underneath? Or perhaps even heather to unknown underground volcano sucking the moisture? Whatever may be the reason if the rain God does not smile on us, & no proper planning for the future (whatever left of it) is done, Karnataka’s future is seems bleak… no drinking water.. no food.. no electricity.. while the population fought with each other, the jobless politicians can either sleep or instigate naked rain dance.

Changing FACE of India… a visit to Mangaluru & back

January 28th 2017, I was traveling to Mangalore after almost two decades. The last time we wanted to go on that road for a monsoon drive some years ago, but the road was so bad & on top of it a lorry filled with haystack had toppled blocking the road for almost a day! My chauffeur cum bodyguard husband refused to go an inch further & with great difficulty managed to turn the car back. But this time it was a pleasure. The roads are good with the completion of the highway No.88 (Mysore-Bantwala). Had nice cup of coffee at Coffee Day which was almost empty near Sulya along with 5-youngsters in their Mitsubish Pajro sports & we stopped for lunch in Managalore at Giri Manja’s. My nephew-in-law highly recommended the place & insisted I taste the Mangalorean fish dishes there. But he was doubtful if my husband would be comfortable in that small little cramped place.

Finally we parked the vehicles besides the flower market & walked a distance to the restaurant near Kalikamba temple… well not exactly a restaurant… located beside a road of about 12 feet including the pavement… as both sides of the road used as a parking place for two wheelers. Small cars, rickshaws, cycles, people, etc., etc… were plying as a little queue formed to get into the restaurant inside a little house of yester years with tiny windows which had seen better days. It seems BBC travel rated the place as the one of the top five best places to eat in India! Interestingly 20 meters away across the road stood yet another Giri Manja’s in a new building & the food was also carried from this old restaurant itself. However, no one went there & waited here as hungry dogs waiting for their bone. As one young teenager refused to eat there saying it was too dark and ugly & was grumbling with his parents, yet another one came out saying it was heavenly food I ever ate…. Almost everyone was walking out wiping the sweat!

After about 20 minutes, finally we went inside & it reminded me of my childhood days when during the small function at the ancestral homes particularly during the monsoon, small benches were used for seating & tall benches were used as tables. Even before the soiled plates were removed & the place was cleaned, we both sat there lest we lose our turn as the other five waited for the other occupants to vacate their seats. One of the young men from our group knew the cook at the restaurant. Then came Anantha, our waiter for the day. When I asked him what was the specialty of the house, he assured us don’t worry, just tell which fish you want & what rice (boiled or normal) you want & I will do the rest. And he did & suggested dishes to share between the seven of us. It was so yummy, reasonably priced & even after eating so much none of us felt heavy too. Luckily one last plate of prawn biryani was available which we shared between us. Fish cooked in coconut oil complimenting & suppressing the fishy flavour was a delight to the pallets. If you ever go to Managlore don’t miss a meal there. It’s worth every paise you pay!

Mangalore (Anglicization of Mangaluru, which is named after Goddess Mangaladevi) for some reason reminded me of a modern version of Colombo, Sri Lanka. People are kind & friendly too. When I asked about the water supply, the Uber driver said: Amma people of Mangaluru has become smart by drinking sweet water which is so very abundant!! Perhaps Goddess Managaladevi did bless the land with abundance & happiness.

On our way back we wanted to visit Kukke Subramanya temple. The drive is beautiful surrounded by plenty of greenery & hills at a distance. Finally we made it to the thousand year old temple, now managed by Muzarai department of Government of Karnataka. Well organized & plenty of police personnel to guide people, the devotees had one small problem: You don’t get enough time to see the deity! Even before I could see how the flower decked amazing idol really looked, I had to move! I know that according to Indian culture the God lives within us but I wanted to see the beautiful idol too… Unfortunately education once given free, hospitals & now even the God is become commercial… Sadly many temples have become golden goose for the government. Surrounding of the temple could have maintained better too.

On our way another interesting thing was the mushrooming of minarets. Throughout the highway, perhaps every couple of kilometers – I simply lost count of those looking towards the sky painted mostly in green & half white. Seems like the do-gooder petrodollar indeed spreading magic carpet effect. Black gold from across the ocean has brought property for some parts of India too… I was joking with my husband what if US President Donald Trump happened to go on that road, perhaps the heat generated from both inside the car as well as the buildings outside would surpass the summer of Kuwait!!

Somewhere between my working life & retirement… the time known to me seems to have elapsed… giving birth to a new order. People even debate over the religion & attire of Statue of Liberty! It’s odd that every where man is futilely looking & holding & crying & sacrificing self (& others) – for & in the name of God, while they themselves have pushed God into the dark corners of their own heart. For some unknown reason it reminded me of my visit to Amsterdam where the Churches are being turned into discos & restaurants for lack of devotees…

When I came home my dear old friend & ex-colleague from Cochin had sent an interesting video on Funeral Event Management…Wow. Its common in India that some communities hire professional wailers & dancers to perform in front of dead bodies depending upon their beliefs… if death & departing is sad for some … for some others it’s the beginning of a new life… continuation of the cycle of birth & death rolling endlessly which calls for a celebration. With the event management (said to cost anywhere between 5 to 10 lakhs) the ugly truth reflects similarities to how the youngsters are given all the expensive toys such the mobiles & games etc., etc., to play with by their busy parents to compensate for not spending the quality time. Now the departed souls are given a grand funeral for not being there when they were needed… I could not understand if it was love or the vulgar display of wealth. It is said that the human brain has stopped growing… I think it’s the heart/feeling that is shrinking while the fauna is getting wiser, smarter, kind & understanding… after all man is a mysterious being, an enigma to himself.

Wondering what next? Facetime or whatsapp funeral…. It will be cost effective too hahahahha

Kali’s home – Carnal pleasures

USA is the world’s Super Power,, and Manhattan is it’s soul & crowning glory , a scion of of diversity & opportunity. Manhattan, perhaps the most well laid block of land in the world, where even a child big enough to read the numbers can navigate, is yet a paranoiac place… I believe Mr. Kali had finally seems to have narrowed down the place for his modus operandi… Manhattan, where even after the 2012 Super Storm Sandy (an unusual phenomenon not seen in decades), could not deter the spirit of Manhattanites!! There are many similarities… between the scenario… then & now!

Kali has unlimited powers compared to an average human & a capable shape shifter who can transform at will. Kali is not really a physical entity or body that we could perceive with naked eye but it has the ability to mentally remote control the flora, fauna and people. Kali is like an alien, a virtual power machine which can spread like virus without cure. And humans & machines are the ones really used by Mr. Kali as tools to control the world for example the GM food, DNA modification, computers, mobile & other devices which has reached the remotest corners of the world. It has taken millenniums to bring the rule of Mr. Kali to get into final shape & it almost seems on the verge of completion.  Once mind is hacked, with the digital handshake, thegap between the humans are narrowed & the task will be completed once the information is overloaded taming the brain, which loses the ability to think!!  End of it there will be no religion (that’s why I kept seeing the different religious connections), no caste bar, grey gender differentiation (that’s why the “T” in LGBT is growing), nothing remains. The world population will turn to Zombie like state under the influence of Mr. Kali till the arrival of the savior, the Son of God in human form. That has to be in human form as man rather Zombies can understand & believe only what is seen or known to them.

Mind is the most important aspect of creation & every being has its own mind. However, man is called the intelligent being because his mind & thinking capacity is deemed superior. Yajur Veda says: When you know a man, you know the universe. Charaka (born 300 BC), the main contributor to the Indian medicine Ajurveda says: Man is the epitome of the universe. There is in man as much diversity as in the world outside, & there is in the world as much diversity as in man.’ When the individual becomes aligned with the universe, the lesser cosmos functions as a harmonious unit of the greater. Man is ruled by the mind. It is said that those who control the mind will control the universe. Also every mind (individual mind) is connected to everyone (collective mind) & that’s why when things done in unison the effect can be noticed – for example while praying you can feel the energy as most minds are connected towards the divine.

 

Individual mind – Collective mind – Divine mind.

 

Even though the creator has the overall control such as the birth & death, the in-between choice is given to the individual mind as creator also has bestowed the thinking capacity to the created. Every being has the thinking capacity but the degree varies. The in-between is something which could come under the control of Kali. It is the individual evil mind is what influenced by Kali. For example, if you can enjoy hurting an innocent fellow being such as a child for personal gain of any kind, then they have to be evil. Even the strong willed King Parkishtha came under his influence.

Also the human mind is a soft target when it comes to Religion where Mr. Kali could have the easiest influence. In a country like India where the thugs such as the Great Empire (& other barbarians), made sure there was division among the people supported by the succeeding politicians whose main target was to bag votes to gain power & money. That was furthered by the roughish Sales men of the Religion. The religion around the world has been divided subdivided & fragmented over the years, so much so even trivia part of the human body, the facial hair (hair – dead part of the body) is used to identify the religion & hate crimes are committed!!

According to Mahabharata, Kali’s arrival on earth coincided with the death of Sri Krishna (Vishnu). However, he was not active until the death of the mighty & righteous Kuru King Parkishit, (grandson of Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers & best friend of Sri Krishna). Strangely Mr. Kali had obtained permission to enter the Earth… in other words it was Legal!! Parikstha, son of Abhimanyu was a unique child from the Middle Vedic period, who while still in his mother Uttara’s womb, was killed by Ashwathama, using Brahmastra, the ultimate weapon of that period, in retaliation to the killing of his father Drona. Sri Krishna brought him back to life, hence the name Parikstha (tested one). His grandmother Subhadra was Sri Krishna’s younger sister.

Mr. Kali had tricked the King who sat on his horse, to let him enter the kingdom & the King had given him permission to dwell only in 4-places including gold. The symbolic Lady Virtue was his strength & constant companion. Strangely, the King himself became the first victim as Mr. Kali entered his golden crown & master minded the King’s death as he could not conquer the humanity with the righteous King still ruling the land. The King died when he took a single bite from the apple which floated towards him in the water just a fraction of a second before the time was up.

Whats the connection with Manhattan? Like Parkisthit’s watch tower in the middle of the water body, Apple showroom stands transparent with clear glass in all 4-directions, aloof among the concrete jungle! {an interesting story & I will write about it later…}

Like the King was tricked & entered without his knowledge, the slaves of the virtual software are gripping the generation without their realization, sinking in quietly … the mania increasing day by day hour by hour & minute by minute & second by second… oh Lord…both fear & relief passed through me pushing to shudder… it has already beaten the records of whatsapp & facebook mania.. with all the personal information about anyone who could access the internet is saved under google… {every persons alphabet under Alphbet Inc… coooool} control will not be difficult too.. all that the hegemonic Kali had to do was just find the right portal!

Late Mr. Steve Jobs (of Middle Eastern origin – Syrian) had opened his glass Apple cube showroom with 15 monolithic glass panels right opposite to the Plaza hotel, with his iconic one bite missing apple. When under construction, the showroom had made a controversial curiosity sensation as the rumours ran amok that it was an imitation of Kaba itself! There were debates on it till it was unveiled…

Central Park is almost a forest or oasis of green/trees in the middle of the concrete jungle surrounded by bars with all sorts of activities where the King had given permission for Mr. Kali to dwell. The main entrance has the General astride on the horseback lead by the Lady Victoria holding a palm frond, all in gold, symbolizing victory, triumph, peace & eternal life. The video was playing too fast in my mind & wondered what was happening & why – without any answer.

Strangely in the middle of the night the couple above our flat with the wooden floor started their carnal action… it started with a thug… as if there was an elephant amok which brought the thought of the elephant in heat which I had seen few months ago & felt sorry for it. It got nosier & nosier as if they were pumped up with Viagra & had a death erection. These basic needs are stretched too far by man leading into all sorts of activities & expectations… everything was happening around me & I was wondering what the hell is it all leading to? I am a grandmother & I can understand how the world works but this was confusing. I wondered why I had planned a short trip to New York out of the blue forcing my husband to accompany me? He simply hates short trips to long distance…

In the middle of it all I thought of the Dajjal, according to the Middle Eastern belief the anti-Christ will be born on earth (location unknown). It is something similar to Mr. Kali… & his actions. It is said that the Son of God in yellow robe will kill Dajjal. He is expected to descend near the white eastern minaret of Damascus, clad in two yellow sheets, leaning on the shoulders of two angels. Perhaps the two angles are the 2-wings of Garuda his official vehicle? One cannot lean on two persons at one time right? Since, the Sanatana Dharma has no specific single book, they are not included in the terminology of Middle Eastern believes. So it is always said that Lord Jesus will come back as he is said to be the Son of the God. But Lord Jesus never wears yellow & not two pieces too… he wears white single robe… so who is that Son of God who is coming back? There is no other prophet or anyone wearing yellow… the holy colour of Indian beliefs.

The thought of Dajjal & Mr. Kali was making me uncomfortable & then I realized that Lord Vishnu is to appear towards the end of the Kali Yuga. Lord Krishna, an Avatara of Lord Vishnu himself says in Srimad Bhagwad Gita that … Yada yada hi dharmasya… Whenever virtue subsides & wickedness prevails, I manifest Myself. To establish virtue, to destroy evil, to save the good, I come from Yuga (age) to Yuga. Kalki is the tenth & final Avatara of Lord Vishnu during Kali Yuga. An avatar means a divine being born in a human form usually to sustain law & balance of nature when it grows out of control.

Lord Vishnu is known as Pitambaradhari (the one who wears yellow!! – see the concluding part for more details) & the thought of those smiling eyes gave me comfort. So is it almost time for his arrival… Mr. Kali will be ridden by Sri Vishnu.

I thought who is going to win the Presidency & who could play a major role? That’s when I could see the monkeys jumping around scratching & screeching themselves, as if mocking me. Monkeys in Manhattan… then I remembered seeing them at the Louis Vuitton showroom as window dressing just around the corner between Apple showroom & the Trump Towers during my previous trip!!

Homelessness & the power of Hope

 

People have different views & perspective towards life. Some are satisfied with what they have, while others  are too sensitive & long for comforts. If some hang on to their pride & ego, others would do any work for a living.

I saw 4-different youngsters in different parts of Manhattan {one right in front of Mr. Trump’s living quarters} holding banners that said If I have $20 I could find a room in the hostel & I could get a proper job or I could go to school or something like that.

I was forbidden by my family to take pictures… since it’s an apparent invasion of their privacy!! I fruitlessly argue with them that when they are physically fit & live in the land of opportunities & social security & still beg, why can’t I take picture? Many a times homelessness is forced on people by war or some kind of calamity which is really unfortunate. But in USA it’s not fair, infactI saw a young homeless man at Albuquerque (New Mexico), asking for help while holding a cardboard that read- “I am too honest to steal & too ugly for prostitution”!

Way back in 1990, my family and I, were homeless for 9-whole days. No home, no bath & we were exposed to fine dust storm in the desert No-man’s land between the Iraq-Jordan  A journey which takes less than 5 hours stretched to 9-days & nights! Being homeless is really sad & stressful…. Something like labour pain – it can only be experienced but can never be explained! The other day my daughter asked me Mum how can people live without a home? I think I would die if I become homeless… then I told her their time has not come for death… their Karma is still lingering on… more than that the word HOPE has a long reach. Hope is like the carrot & the donkey… somehow its pulls one to move forward in search of a better day. I explained to her of a worse condition than being homeless I had witnessed.

It was a leper without limbs (below his both knees), with raw pink flesh & flies sitting on it. He sat on a make shift wooden board with 4 small wheels pushing himself ahead with his palm. Sometime around 2008, I was walking along with my husband behind Mohan Bhandar at Mysore searching for some light fixtures. It was a crowded narrow street & suddenly he appeared right in front of me. His gaze was so sharp, transfixed almost piercing my soul as if blaming me for being able to walk… I just stood there, dumbstruck, unable to move, & my husband had to walk back after realizing that I was not following him anymore. His image is still imprinted in my mind…. Many a times I wondered what made him tick? Is that what is called the mortal “Vyamoha” in Sanskrit (roughly translated as deep attachment)? Or is it simply fear of the unknown, the death? Wish I could ask him what made him mentally so strong? What was he hoping for… a miracle? I realized then that if he had the courage to live, then no one on earth has the right to kill themselves- whatever may be the circumstances.

Usually homeless & begging goes hand in hand. Some may scrape from the dustbin than ask for handout. Begging style differs from country to country, & from person to person. There are many ways to beg… some will follow you or try to hang on to you like leeches. Some will silently beg. Some will sing or play music & expect some payment. While some will entertain with animals & rope tricks etc., etc. Some will earn money but are so used to their life on the street that they could never live a normal life. Beggary just becomes a way of life… old habits die hard…

Lately a beggar died in action (i.e. while still begging) on the streets of Bengaluru, India. When they lifted his body to be taken to the grave yard, they were in for a surprise… under his quilt on which he sat in a semicircle igloo like makeshift tent & begged, was currency worth more than 13-million rupees. Enough to give him a comfortable home, warm bed, food & clothing. Yet he sat on it till death, perhaps hoping it would hatch or lay eggs!!

More than that I was amazed to watch the video in which so many gathered with deep fervor, young old like, guarded by a police man with a lathi (stick) in hand, to count & sort the money. Touch & scent of Money, in any form & from any source is still desirable like bed of sweet smelling roses…. Hum. God knows how hands it will pass through & how many will try to pocket some… Begging from the Beggar rather from the Dead Body!! Ironically, his lifeless body was laid right next to the whole drama, ready to be lifted… Dead Body, a funny strange word… Wondered IF, his Soul was hanging around watching the drama what would it must be feeling?

I always wondered how the homeless attend to their body waste. One day I was at McDonald’s in San Francisco, California & I saw a homeless man walk & buy a sandwich, & later go to the washroom. I was told that the restaurants can’t deny customers food & use of their washroom because of their back ground or attire… there are for all intents and purposes, public toilets! .

Two days back, we went for a walk late night after dinner. Weather was nice & streets were not crowded. Right opposite to Queensboro Bridge, finally I saw how they manage to sleep at night, at least few & when the weather is good. On the threshold of one of the shops, 2 individuals slept in close proximity fully covered with a sheet. And strangely, rested just above their head, was a brown leather bound bible with Holy Bible written in golden on it. I think that’s what Hope really means. When the world says give up, hope whispers, try one more time. Just across, opposite the entrance to tramway, on the rows of benches sat a man with a bottle of alcohol & flask practicing, perhaps a new tune, on his guitar. At a distance sat another, eating his dinner listening to music at the quiet of the night… he actually did not look like a homeless man. At the far end sat a homeless lady perhaps waiting for everyone, including us, to vanish from there so that she could sleep peacefully. The positive yet saddest thing was that even though she was homeless she had combed her hair very neat & her belongings in the cart were well folded & neatly stacked, maybe reminiscent to her past…. She reminded me of what a lady said to me when I visited a thrift market earlier… “when the country had better days, I worked at Pier 26 & I would buy expensive stuff & now I am selling them for throw away prices for a living”… the tone in which she said was very touching…. No one knows what is in store for anyone tomorrow…

My younger daughter says, mum why you are so interested in homeless people…. I don’t know why they always catch my eyes perhaps because once in my life, at a distant past I wore their shoes … thanks to Saddam & the so called Big Guns who stirrup troubles, as if possessed by some evil spirit to aid on something which doesn’t have an ending in the horizon!

Sometimes I see so many contrasts in one place. Like the other day when we were walking across the Rockefeller University, along the Hudson River bank, I saw brand new barbeque grill abandoned & loads of waste in the bin, may be leftovers from previous night partying. Right opposite to that slept a homeless woman in a neon green reflective safety west …… she slept so peacefully that even the traffic on the highway besides did not deter her sleep. Little further, on another bench, sat a well-dressed young woman (seemed hungover from the previous night) with a cell phone trying to type a message & half way through she fell back asleep, still clutching the phone. How she got there is beyond my understanding. When we returned, the young woman was still sleeping… the older woman was eating something that seemed like pancake from foil paper. Next to her stood a man eyeing everyone & when I saw his face, he was moving his tongue awkwardly, like snakes move their tongue… it reminded me of an old proverb: Even if the tamarind tree is old, the tamarind is still sour!! I wondered why the hell am I keep coming across so many strange characters & events?

To end with, here is a delicate story narrated by a Real Estate agent…. It seems once a couple approached her saying they wanted a home with just two specific requirements… the flat should be facing the main road & should have a large window. They did not bother if the flat was old or fittings/furnishing were broken as long as the two criteria were met. The reason they wanted the flat was that they wanted to keep their dog close to their work place so that they could come & visit the dog whenever possible. While they were away, the dog should not stress, bored or depressed… hum… I can say that some dogs are luckier & better loved than humans…

My DIL tells me that the government gives them shelter, food & clothing… but some people just don’t apply or collect. I have no idea how far the government aid is stretched but end of the day Super Power is just a virtual status which sounds fruitless once you know or live the sad reality like the empty shell of a hermit crab. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, every country is the same only the percentage differs!! After all Shangri-La is yet to be discovered & there is no such thing as Utopia!!

Tonle Sap – My musings from Cambodia

The below article is a contribution from my daughter-in-law, on her expreiences and musing from a trip to Cambodia and Laos:

The last couple of days were some of the most beautiful days of my life. Cambodia, like some parts of India presents life to you in its most raw form. Siem reap is bustling with life, the second biggest province in the Kingdom of Cambodia, is still reeling from the horror of its past and is desperate to make its future better. You can see it mainly in the children on the streets of Cambodia. To an extent that these kids have learnt to manipulate tourists with their innocent faces in order to earn a living. It makes me wonder what life must have thrown to make them such manipulative business monkeys without a Harvard degree!

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A 30 minute tuk tuk ride will take you from the busy streets of Siem reap to Tonle Sap lake on which several floating villages are formed. Tonle sap is a fresh water lake which joins the Mekong river. 5 different provinces are situated around the lake with a population of 3 million. The main form of income is fishing and agriculture. I visited the Chang kneas village and as I passed in a boat, I saw houses, clinics, temples, schools, fish farms, restaurants, markets, pigsty – all floating on this lake.

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Life is in its most simple form- they draw water from the lake for use, they go to the jungle for toilet, they grow or catch everything they eat. Some houses have electricity only from 6pm to 11pm. Houses here take 2-3 months to build and are build mostly with wood. 15-20 people live together in these houses. The average income per day is 2$ in this village. 2$ is all we humans need to survive and live a beautiful life, one with nature. Most importantly, they have a very low impact on the environment compared to the city dwellers living the “good life”. We come from different circumstances but our necessities are all the same.

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When you ride through this village in a dingy motor boat, you will see people pulling fish out of their nets, kids playing in the lake, men bathing, women gardening, kids running down the stairs in school uniform, pigs being cleaned and more. I imagine what life must be like and make up stories in my head. They seem very happy in their small world with no luxury and assets in their name.

Your happiness is defined by your surrounding and your experience in life. The smallest of things make the villagers happy in Tonle sap. Our local guide told us that everyone’s in good mood if they chop a chicken or pork for their meal since the staple diet is usually just sticky rice and fish. The kids were extremely excited to see and touch my bangles. I saw tourists giving candies and money to these kids too. I hope people realize that it’s a bad practice. It encourages begging, discourages innovative initiatives while rotting their teeth. Give them books, that’s the only way to make a difference or better even, sponsor a kids education.
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Coming back to Tonle sap, this place is a quaint little chaotic heaven in the middle of Cambodia. It took me back to where I come from because the sense of belonging to a particular community is a dominating feeling in us. We leave homes in search of better and bigger things. As I explore this expansive world, my own culture, similar to Lao culture of worshipping and respecting the land, river and forest makes the most sense to me.

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I travel not only because I always have wanted to see the world, but also, it gives me a perspective in life. I and my worries seem small in the universe of things. I have learnt to respect and be thankful for the small things in life. Tonle sap in particular makes you respect nature for it vastness, kindness and for all it can offer.

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Our boat ride ended in the mekong river just outside the floating village and the flooded forest. We stopped the boat to soak in the bright sky, slow breeze and calm water surrounding us. As the sun set over the red sky, the peace and calm of that moment could be rivaled only by a mother’s womb.