Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bombe Mane - The Doll House

Come Dasara and Mysore becomes a bustling centre of festivities, fun and fantasy. Every night during these 10 days, a gargantuan incandescent word in Kannada - Susvaagata(meaning Welcome) - appears magically on the dark south-eastern skyline of the city where during the daylight one would have seen the expansive Chamundi Hill, the silent sentinel of the city. This is how Mysore welcomes its guests during this festive season.

But no such visual invitation is required to go to any stranger's house these days as you can just walk into any house in the evening if the dolls are arranged in that house. Every house, literally, becomes a doll house for 10 days. Dolls that are being collected since generations are taken out from wooden chests, almirahs, lofts and showcases; they are diligently dusted, and neatly arranged on temporary wooden steps that would have been constructed beforehand.

Pattada Gombe, a pair of dolls (King & Queen) carved out of the rare red sandalwood, are placed at the summit of the arrangement, while other dolls occupy lower steps. Dolls of every hue and mood vye for the attention of the onlooker and thereby taking him back to the magical world of innocence.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sri Rama - The Best Among Men

Me and my siblings have been fed with Ramayana, Mahabharatha and other stories by my granny since we were kids. She was a storehouse of myths, legends, Puranas and fairy tales. Like a TV soap opera she narrated the stories daily at bedtime and kept us five siblings from bothering our Mom. Thanks to her, though I haven't read the epics myself, I know the entire story and the characters in them by heart.

In Ramayana, the interesting part for me after the death of Ravana was the 'Agni-pareeksha' of Seetha. I was more fascinated with the miracle of fire not burning Seetha. The kid in me was engrossed in the fantastic nature rather than dwelling on the harsh realities.

As time flew by and the stories became more real than fantasy, I started looking for human stories in these larger than life epics. Enquiry replaced wonder. Questions replaced blind belief.

I am a believer in God and my personal prayer involved Lord Sri Rama among few other deities. But since couple of years I am unable to think of Sri Rama as my ideal, because he betrayed Seetha. He left her high and dry when she needed him the most.

During the hindu wedding rituals, the bride and groom take a vow, of togetherness, with sacred fire 'agni' as the witness. Rama married Seetha by promising in front of 'agni' that he will always be there with her in happiness or illness, taking care of her well being.

He went to great lengths to keep the word of his father, but when it came to himself, he turned a blind eye, abandoned the promise made in front of 'agni' and casted away a pregnant Seetha into the wilderness to the mercy of wild beasts.

To fulfill his father's promise, Rama went into exile for 14 years. He was supposed to go alone, but Seetha followed him when she, instead, could've opted to stay in the palace. She endured the hardships just to be with her beloved. She was kidnapped by Ravana and suffered great misery but the hope that Rama will come and rescue her saw her through that misery. Surely Rama came, fought Ravana and killed him only to plunge Seetha into the fire.

Rama, who once with the mere touch of his toe relieved Ahalya off her curse, now wanted Seetha to convince him of her chastity and asked her to purify herself by entering the fire. Even fire couldn't harm her and Rama, now convinced, took her back, returned to Ayodhya and was enthroned. All's well that ends well, we thought, until a washerman cast aspersions on Seetha. That's it, Rama had to dump Seetha at any cost because one of his subjects doubted the queen.

Seetha, who was pregnant at that time is not even given an explanation or a hint about what was coming her way. The least suspecting Seetha is taken to the edge of the forest and dumped there unceremoniously.

For Rama, the word of his subject is far more important than the word he had given his wife during the wedding; by sending away Seetha he was only endorsing the view of the washerman. If he was so much concerned with the washerman's words, he could have abdicated the throne, but no! He would rather dump his wife than give away the throne.

Rama questioned the chastity of his wife, took her trial by fire, betrayed the promise given to her and dumped her acknowledging a hearsay. Can you call him 'Maryada Purushottama?'

ಪಾದಸ್ಪರ್ಶದಿ ಶಿಲೆ ಸಾಧ್ವಿಯಾದಲ್
ನಾಮಬಲದಿ ಶಿಲೆ ಜಲದಿ ತೇಲಲ್
ಅರ್ಧಾಂಗಿಯಿಂ ಅಗ್ನಿ ಪ್ರಮಾಣ ಬಯಸೆ
ಮನಸೇಕೆ ಕಲ್ಲಾಯ್ತು? - ಪೆದ್ದುಗುಂಡ

(I wrote the above verse on 28 November 2008 and since it echos the same question as in this post, I am including it here. You can read this and many more of my Kannada verses here.)

To read more about Sita follow this link.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Shutter-bug At Work

I am an amateur photographer who is addicted to photography. This passion in me came to fore when I got a digital camera (it is a SONY Cybershot DSCV1 5 mega pixels).

Yesterday I saw some beautiful hibiscus flowers in the garden and couldn't resist shooting. I thoroughly enjoyed the shoot.

Here's another. I love the blue of the heavens. Hibiscus, known as Japa-kusuma in Samskrutha, is called Daasavaala in Kannada. These, especially blood red flowers, are offered to the female deities like Durga, Chamunda and Kali.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Very Hairy Matter

It is mid 19th century, 1857 to be precise, a sepoy in the army of East India Company rebelled against his employer and invoked the first cry of independence. Fast forward to 2004, Mysore, a graphic designer in his late twenties. Can you believe the former affecting latter's identity nearly a century and half later?

Believe me, it can. I am that graphic designer who was affected by the life of Mangal Pandey. Well, I have to confide that the influence was only skin deep. Last year, if you could remember, there was a series of ads of Titan wrist watches featuring Aamir Khan with a flowing mane. He had grown that hair to portray the character of Mangal Pandey in his recently released movie 'Mangal Pandey - The Rising.' Before that I was toying with the idea of growing hair, but every time my hair grew more than four inches I would run to my barber and hang my head in supplication before his hair-hungry scissors.

Aamir came to my rescue as a hairy messiah and preached me the golden rule to grow long hair - have patience. In an interview he had said that his patience helped him to grow long hair. I took it as a challenge and a test of my patience and in March 2004 I decided, come what may, I will have long, beautiful hair (as a kid I always wanted to marry a girl with knee-long hair).

My hair grew and grew, first few months it was very irritating to look myself in the mirror. They were going haywire; everytime I washed my hair, I had to literally douse my head in a vat of hair-oil otherwise I looked like I had been freshly electrocuted. So on and so forth, slowly but steadily my hair grew longer and longer and everyone started ooh-aahing on my hair. I smiled to myself whenever my hair bounced. Few of my friends were unabashedly envious of my growing (literally) popularity. Proportionately grew my woes of taking care of my mane which I suffered in silence.

Daily shampooing, dryness of hair, sticky and smelly hair oil, it took nearly 30 minutes of extra time to get ready every morning. I am a late riser and extra time for my hair care meant my productive day started at 12.00 noon.

Sometime back when I was in Bangalore, I went to a trendy hair salon to get a hip hair style. The experience was more of a shock than anything else. I was advised to go in for a thorough conditioning and straightening of my hair after only which, I was told, styling the hair had to be attempted. I was all excited, but suspicion crept into my paranoid mind and I blurted out asking the cost involved for the entire process. My jaw dropped to the ground when I was told that it will cost a whopping Rs. 2500. Goodness, gracious! I can get haircuts for my entire lifetime (don't mind a little exaggeration) with that much amount, back home. I scooted out from there, not before shelling out Rs. 250 for the paltry hair-trim (it's day-light robbery, I know).

Finally, it was the day of reckoning - 17 August 2005. The satanic blades descended from their cold, dark, steely dwelling straight onto my crest. The satisfactory laughter of my jealous friends filled my ear as each and every strand of my goldy-locks were felled to the ground. Within two-three minutes it was over. My head which was like a dense rainforest now resembled the parched Sahara. The labour of nearly eighteen months lay lifeless strewn all across me; I had a final farewell glance at them and left the place feeling light headed.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Think Twice, Potter

It is quite clear now, the world stands divided in two. No, the divisions are not that of wizards and muggles but one which loves Harry Potter and the other which doesn't care less about the bespectacled orphan who is pitched against his deadliest enemy, all alone (gasp). Well, I confess... I fall into the first category; my Potter mania is such that it has earned me the epithet 'Harry-Potter-dasa' which I am rather proud of (I hear some sneers here). It was the first time in my life that I ordered for any book, that too two months before its release, this May.

I suppose that gives you a fair idea of my obsession with the boy wizard. Now, something on a serious note, I came across a few sentences in the latest Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, that makes you think twice. And here they are,

'People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.'
- Excess of Phlegm. pg. 95

'Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, spite spawns lies.'
- Lord Voldemort's Request. pg. 415

'Have you any idea how much tyrants fear people they oppress? All of them realise that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!'
- Horcruxes. pg. 477

'It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.'
- The Cave. pg. 529

Monday, August 01, 2005

Goal - Is it dispensable?

When someone is seeking, it happens quite easily that he sees the thing that he is seeking;
that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing
he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal.
Seeking means: to have a goal;
but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal.
- 'Siddhartha' by Hermann Hesse

I came across above mentioned sayings in the book 'Siddhartha' which I read recently. This message was so strong that I couldn't resist the temptation to quote it here. The quote is very thought provoking and can be applied in our everyday life.

Sometimes we question the very purpose and objective of things we are pursuing; and many a times it remains just a question and we fear to go further. We are scared of the answer because the passion with which we are seeking, we are afraid, will look ridiculous once we get the answer.

Since childhood we are constantly fed with the idea that one should have a certain goal in life to succeed. But what if a person does not have any goal or ambition? Does it mean that, that person will have an unsuccessful life?

Why can't a person lead his life doing things without expecting anything? Isn't a goal, a passionate expectation?

I have no concrete goals. Previously when someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I was getting totally confused. I used to mumble something stupid and change the subject. I was a little embarassed with myself about not being ambitious; but then it struck me one day - I don't have any goals. I am not seeking anything passionately. I am just living every moment of my life as it comes. I work, design, write a bit, read a bit, watch TV, listen to music, etc. Even what I eat, I enjoy each and every morsel and not hurry through.

Whatever I do I try to enjoy the process. This has a very positive effect. The work, when it yields a good result it is exciting for me. I find success which I had not sought after and that is very exciting. In case of a failure I don't lose heart but consider it as an experience because the work itself would have been a learning process.

I am free from longing, I am happy. I have no goals, I am happy. Success comes as a surprise, I am happy.

Friday, July 29, 2005

First Impressions

Well, well, well... here I am trying out something new. This is my very first blog. I am like an infant on the threshold of taking its first steps on its own. Surely, as the first steps, my posts may seem a little awkward, but yet I wanna give it a try.

I have gone through some blogs and have found them witty, funny, self critical, observant and also honest at times. I have no idea how would you, the reader, feel about my posts, but would certainly look froward for your comments.

I have christened my blog as 'contemplation' because I want to keep these posts mostly about me and my thought process.