Monday, November 23, 2009

Back to Square One

Divisive politics at its best in Maharashtra.
Politicians in India are very fortunate because when they can't get religion to work, they have languages. When politicians have a go at all the micro identities that they could manipulate, it is a sure sign of them losing their own!
Just felt like quoting Tagore on this one. I think we have to go back to square one again!

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic wars;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action - Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ten on Ten!!

I have never really been an ardent fan of cricket. The only cricket I watched with a lot of passion was with my dad. On days when India played Pakistan, specially in the World Cup series, our household would come to a standstill. There would be no going out. We would not by any stretch of imagination think of watching anything else on television except the match. It was a beautiful time in my life. On hot summer days, day-night matches would come with ice cream as accompaniment. My dad would rush to the nearby Vadilal (a brand of ice cream that became extinct with the opening of economy) store and get slabs of it!
The atrocity of that Indian summer was alleviated by the jasmine flowers in the balcony, the ice cream and cricket!
Dad and I would follow the match right from the toss. A lanky Azaruddin standing next to a puffy Inzamam! As the coin was tossed up, I found myself doing all the little girl spells on it. The rest of the day was spent in front of the television.
These matches were played in two parts. In the conventional sense, it was divided as Indian batting and Indian fielding. For us, however, it was before Sachin and after Sachin. Sachin Tendulkar was responsible for a lot of my mood changes in those days. He would not know it I know, but just because this is all out there I should clear my heart. :)
Every time after an opening batsman went out at a sad score the little master would walk in, fiddling with his gloves and helmet. I would fall on to my knees and pray to him. The game then usually transformed to another level with every other delivery being swept across the boundary line like the ball had it all written in its destiny. In one of his "trips" Sachin would sweep over after over at an average of sixteen runs per over and sweep everyone off their feet. We lived each of those with our hearts in our hands. It was not a game. It was more like dance for me for it came as close to art as an Amjad Ali Khan on Sarod or a Jasraj reciting the Shanti Mantra in his soul-soaking voice.
Being a girl, I am not able to throw in statistics in a conversation related to cricket. Nor would I get red in the face when someone would say Sachin is overrated sipping on a coffee that they haven't paid for in Roopali.
Over the years though I have observed something similar in people who have consistently stayed on top. Be it Sachin, A.R Rahman or Rodger Federer. They don't play for us, they do whatever they do because they have been sent with that one purpose. Everything that comes as a result of what they do gets dissolved in the overwhelming presence of their art.
Kudos to Sachin! There would never be another one of his kind. :)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

United Nations of Australia

I went camping this weekend. We were a group of ten, from nine countries around the world. India, South Africa, Poland, Spain, Greece, Singapore, Germany, Iran and just to make the host country happy, Australia. :) We labeled the group as 'The UN'.
In my pre-Australia life, I never really thought of "meeting people" as a learning experience. It was always classified as "entertainment". Two years in Australia, I consider myself lucky to be in a country that is so disarmingly multicultural. Whoever thinks of Australia as a racist country should really be in Australia and find out for themselves. The climate and the culture attract a lot of people to this place, including people from European countries. So not every white person is really an Australian.
We were chatting over lunch and breakfast, cooking our own on an electric barbecue. There is a different kind of enlightenment in knowing history of a nation from the person who has been brought up in it. I had tried reading the biography of Nelson Mandela ( Long Walk to Freedom) when I was in India. However, listening to a native from Cape Town talk about his leader was a much more refreshing experience. When he talked about Mahatma Gandhi and how his principles changed the fate of South Africa, I ended up thanking the stars above our heads.
No one really teaches us proper history in schoolbooks. I found this out when I was talking to a Chinese friend and realized that he had a completely different version of the 1962 Indo-China war!
This is just politics and history. I think I should not even try to mention how much of a culinary vocabulary you can build doing these kind of excursions! Plus there is always a lot to talk about and to debate over. Usually, after the first few meetings the differences fall into their own place and the similarities emerge.
No matter where we grow up, what culture we are born in and where we stand in our accomplishments, the basic human feelings are always the same. This has been one of the biggest lessons of my life away from home and the conclusion is very simple- Friendship does not come with a passport!
We are all incomplete and so is the Universe. The things we do, our fates and the people we meet in the course of our journey complete us. In everything we do to complete ourselves we are unknowingly completing the Universe too. Although both these seem like a latent and futile aim, it does make the world a better place after all!