Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hope rises on Independence Day

As I stood facing the National Flag this morning, I was consumed by one thought only - will our children, the generation that is evolving at a frenetic pace, seemingly too sure of themselves and therefore rashly neglectful of our 'values', ever feel the surge of love and emotion we feel when we sing the National Anthem? Will that kind of patriotism trickle down to these children who today stood watching their National Flag flutter in the gentle morning breeze?

And as we stood facing the flag in a circle I could not help but notice several parents standing with folded hands, seemingly afraid to mouth the words of the Anthem. "Maybe they've forgotten the words" I thought.

Its possible. Most of us left school uniforms and that environ two decades ago. Some of us can recall every film song sung in praise of our Motherland and every line of the profound and celebrated poem by Rabindranath Tagore that knocks us out every time we mouth the lines - "Where the mind is without fear"....!

But maybe, some have simply forgotten all of it.

"Could be amnesia", I second guessed, when I  realised that most of these upper to mid-upper class urban parents must have taken their tiny tots to watch an animation film in a multiplex at least once in their lives? And surely, they must have heard the National Anthem sung before the film? How then could they stand in such (deafening) silence with folded hands feigning amnesia?

Or was it worse than I'd imagined? Was it 'indifference'?

Indifference is the worst state of being. Indifference is debilitating. Indifference to your country, what it stands for, its ethos, its people, its National Flag/Anthem/bird/animal or what have you, is ruthlessly unpatriotic and unbecoming of any citizen who has ever sat in the air conditioned comfort of his office or drawing room and cursed the Indian 'mentality' and everything Indian, all the while, comfortably ensconced under the umbrella of Democracy.

Indifference is unacceptable.

I felt ashamed and wanted to exhort the parents (after the Anthem had ended, of course) - with the flamboyance of Manoj Kumar aka Bharat Kumar, rising up from my seat, fingers pointing at each of them, pompously reminding them of their duty as parents of these young, highly impressionable and engaging minds!

Then I glanced at the children from the corner of my eye and saw them singing the National Anthem with gusto - loud, clear and with passion. Four year olds, five year olds, seven year olds, fumbling at the difficult words but continuing undeterred, eyes never leaving the flag, hands never leaving their sides.

And I felt relieved. Hope raised its sure head again.

With or without the inculcation of values and guidelines from such parents, these children are all set to become the shining stars of our Nation. Our heroes. More power to them! Jai Hind!

PS: I am going to post this on the parents' group website of the school my son goes to, hoping to ignite a few minds, and may be spark a new controversy. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kids say the darnest things! 1

Kids DO say the darnest things!

Scene - I am returning home after signing up at a new gym. Abhir had accompanied me as I went over to register.

Me: "Finally I can go to gym again."

Abhir: "But how can you go mama? There are so many boys there..and you will have to tell them that 'I'm married.'

Me: (Laughing uncontrollably....)

Abhir: "I will write it on a paper and give you and you can show it to them. For Hindi, you can translate and tell them "मेरी शादी हो चुकी है"

Me: (Still laughing....)

Scene - Dietitian is taking measurements soon after registration

Abhir: "Oh mama, your stomach is so big as if there is a baby inside..."

Me: (Embarrassed)

Scene - We're packed in to the car and the conversation on the back seat between Oorja and Abhir is thus

Abhir: "What is gay?"

Oorja: (Matter-of-factly) "Oh nothing! Just two boys loving each other...."

Me: !

Now I know why Bill Cosby ran his show for so many seasons!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tradition or Hidden agenda

Often when I am confronted by 'tradition' or lets say conservative values or even superstitious beliefs I wonder if we are regressing back in time or do the so-called close family members/relatives or well wishers who seek to 'open our eyes to these beliefs' and impose them on us do so to establish their agenda or superiority!

Take for instance the wedding date for my darling younger brother.

It was fixed after considerable deliberation and consultation with the decision makers - the astrologers, someone my father trusts as a guru and also bearing in mind the examination dates for the two children who will be most involved in the wedding - mine!

My brother's prospective in-laws also came over to visit my parents in Kerala and the date February 8th, 2011 was fixed mutually.

Two days later, my father got a call from one of his concerned sisters who informed him that Feb 8th (which is Basant Panchami according to the Indian calendar) was an inauspicious day for the wedding as my paternal grandfather (who we affectionately called babaji) passed away apparently on the same day way back in 1993.

Same day - i.e. Basant Panchami day. Not same date. The date was 14th Feb in 1993.

Caught in a genuine quandary my father called his guru who rubbished the claims of my aunt. He gave the go-ahead for the day. My father who trusts this gentleman more than any other living person on this Earth has however not paid heed to his advise.

As everyone around him claimed (including the bride's parents who could not vociferously deny the claims of the aunt), "The seed of doubt about the auspiciousness of this date has been sown. You must look for another date" dad set forth to seek another date.

And a new date has finally been arrived upon. 28th January.

Ask my father, who has seen the worst business disruptions and personal tragedies any man could have borne, and he says "How does it matter, 28 Jan or 8 Feb? Let's keep everyone happy."

What he knows is that the seed for this intervention was sown in my aunt's mind by one of our so-called blood relatives; a fact he can't deny but in the face of this 'doubt' he chooses to ignore it.

While all family members including my mother and brother (the groom himself) seethe at this unnecessary intervention and change, we also wonder if my grandfather's soul will be unhappy if his grandson gets married on the day he passed on, or will he be happy that his grandson chose this day to make a new, positive beginning in his life?

Questions only babaji would have been able to answer. And yet, somehow in my gut, I know what his answer would be. (Hint: The latter, definitely!)

If only his own children could face up to it and stop hiding behind the garb of traditional/conservative beliefs/faiths to impose their moral/conventional values on others.