13 January 2010

Nice, But Surreal !

Surreal – Dreamlike, bizarre, odd, strange, weird, unreal

Surreal, but nice! These were the words uttered by Hugh Grant’s character (an ordinary English guy) when Julia Roberts’ character (a Hollywood superstar) kisses him in the film Notting Hill.

But when I came back after watching AVATAR I felt nice, but surreal. Why?

Imagine the possibilities of the future. I’m not saying that we would like to be transported to an alien’s body (we need to find the aliens first, that too good looking ones). The thought, that a man can change his body by retaining his own self, his psyche, his emotions. It was explored in another Hollywood movie called End of Days starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which explored the phenomenon of cloning and transporting one to a new body, thereby leading to a perpetual existence! I’m not comparing the two movies, I can’t, simply because Avatar talks about the idea of Oneness and One Energy through which all beings are connected and End of Days gives the message of not interfering in God’s way.

But I feel, man being man; he was curious, is and will always be! Anything that was deemed irrational has come true. Let me give you a few examples; our world being round, gravity, talking through an instrument, flying, exploring the vast outer space, etc. The men who discovered or invented the phenomenon which we take for granted today were questioned, ridiculed and for noble souls like Galileo, ostracized from the society.

I just can’t stop thinking of the endless possibilities that we can go from here. James Cameron is just a genius of a film director and also, I must add, a visionary writer.

One of my favourite authors, Jules Verne (1828 – 1905) was a French writer who is considered the pioneer of the science – fiction genre of writing. To his credits are great novels like From The Earth To The Moon, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and Around The World In Eighty Days, which I devoured as a child. A point to be noted about this man was he wrote about air, space and under-water travel before navigable aircraft and submarines were invented, and before any idea of space travel had been conceptualized. He is often considered to be a clairvoyant, someone having the supposed power to see objects or events that cannot be perceived by the senses. The Father of Science Fiction, Verne is an inspiration to millions around the world.

One of my favourite film-director, James Cameron is a Canadian born American film-maker is considered the best original writers of science fiction and then bringing it to life on the cinema screen. To his credits, as a writer, are truly great films like The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Abyss and Avatar.

When Verne wrote his novels he never knew those things would turn true. He only let his imagination run wild. Same could be the case with Cameron, the man is a dreamer.

The question I’m asking - Is James Cameron the Jules Verne of our time? Tall claim? Only time will tell.

Migration of the "Bhaiyya"

Why a migrant from Uttar Pradesh or any other state for that matter is not so different than us urbanites? (The fodder for MNS to be in the news)

To understand this I request the reader to be objective and forget that he is a Maharashtrian, Punjabi, Tamilian, Bengali or anything else what he deems fit to be called as.

The change took place around 1850, the advent of Industrial Age. Till this time man lived his entire life in just one place, often one home. Industrial Revolution shook the permanency of man. What I mean by permanency means man was always dependent on agriculture till this time. Agriculture implies taking root at one place. One cannot move. From root came the concept of “rootedness” and house became “home”.

But industrialisation as we all know changed the world! In search of better economic prospects man started traveling to distant places, and since then continued to do the same.

Industrialisation shifted the man from permanency to transience, and since then man has always been traveling.

Now the basic question is how I can compare a man from Uttar Pradesh to a man from, say Mumbai or Delhi.

Till 1970’s the small town man was happy with his “do bigha zameen” and his “upjaau khet ka dhaan”. Then arrived the marvel of technology – Television. It exposed him to the never ever looked at place called “city”. This gave him hope. He started dreaming that if he lands up in the “city”, he can make a good future for himself and his family. A major chunk came to Mumbai and are still dripping in, courtesy clich├ęd Bollywood movies proclaiming Mumbai to be the land of opportunities (although its true!)

So, the down-town man started traveling up-town and to the cities.

What happened to the up-town man or the man in the city? Well pretty much the same thing. In 1970’s TV revolution took place here too. But the man of the city was literate and semi-educated if not completely educated. Like his rural counterpart he saw a dream. His dream was similar too like his rural cousin. His dream was to go to “Vilayat” or “Amreeka”. So he worked hard, saved money and flew to his destination and did everything under his purview to settle in “Vilayat” or “Amreeka” and by the grace of God, still continues to do so.

We’re nearing 2010 and still the dream is the same. We still want to go Europe or North America to study and work and sometimes, eventually to settle there.

Even today the rural folks want to come to the city and make a Life.

The foreigners are complaining to their governments that the immigrants are taking away their jobs and bringing in new cultures.

The urbanites are complaining to their State Governments that the other state’s immigrant is taking away his job.

So tell me what gives us the right to say that we should not allow the other state’s population to come here and work when we too are doing the same.

There are two arguments doing round. One is reservations – which will inadvertently kill competition and force the “others”, specifically in Maharashtra, the “bhaiyyas” to be forced out.

Well, then I just pray to God the same happens to the urbanites settled abroad.

I have no personal enmity with them; it’s just that, we, the torch-bearers of equality for the right to work in our lands, should foresee this happening very soon. (The intolerance has already started. E.g. Australia)

Second is acceptance - what North America and Europe have been doing. This promoted cultural diversity and more importantly the progress of man in these two continents. Had they not accepted us there wouldn’t have been a Bose Speaker, A Vikram Pandit (Citibank), an Indira Nooyi (Pepsi)…or was we Indians proudly boast with inflated chests…35% of doctors in England are Indians or x % professionals in USA are Indian.

I mean do I even have to explain myself what North America and Europe offers in terms of opportunity for us educated people. That is exactly what the humble man from the “other” state feels about the city.

If there are still some people who feel that this argument is wrong, I only wish them luck in their lives, because they seriously can never look at the other side and understand…

As far as politicians (no names please) are concerned, do you want me start?

Jihad - A beautiful word turned into phobia.

(Written on 26 Nov 2009)

It has been a year since the unfortunate attack on Bombay.

Today I got up at 11am feeling very normal. Did my routine stuff and picked up the newspaper at noon. And then the gory images of the bloodshed played in my head like a nightmare that I desperately wanted to run away from... I saw images of Ajmal Kasab, one of the attackers captured alive by the Bombay police. While reading something struck me.

Somewhere it was mentioned that Kasab was working on the path of "Jihad". The media labeled him a "Jihadi"

I really don't understand how can the media use words the way they want to? I felt tons and tons of paper and ink was wasted today. It’s a solemn day today, I understand, but considering the fact that on a day like today, even irregular readers must have picked up a copy to read, some light should have been thrown on issues of "Jihad".

It’s been always propagated in the media that Jihad is a "holy war". The term Jihad is misunderstood to be referring to ‘holy war’ on behalf of Islam. I thought I'd share what actually is Jihad. Even if it reaches out to 10 people I have done more than what the media could have done.

In Islam Jihad means "struggle" and the common usage is to strive in the way of Allah. Any Muslim who engages in Jihad is a Jihadi or a Mujahid. It is one of the many practices of Islam.

Many people misunderstand that Islam is ritualistic. It is not. Islam is logical and I'll tell you how Jihad is nothing but an extension of logic.
There are 4 kinds of Jihad

1. Jihad against one’s self.
It is concerned with combating Satan (the devil), to escape his persuasion to evil.

2. Jihad of the tongue.
It is concerned with speaking the truth.

3. Jihad of the hand.
Choosing to do what is right.

4. Jihad of the sword.
Fight in defense of Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) said that the Lesser Jihad is physical and the Greater Jihad is against one’s Soul. A fact that everyone should know is that The Qur’an never uses the term Jihad for fighting and combat in the name of Allah.

A Muslim anywhere in the world should do the Greater Jihad every day. Like what, fight against immoral desires, against lust, against oppression, against injustice, against deceit, against lies, against anything that hinders his/her growth and goodwill.

True Jihad for any Muslim is TO STRUGGLE TO IMPROVE ONE’S SELF!

Now isn’t it logical to do so. I mean everyone in this world is struggling against the same thing. For example, aren’t we all frustrated with the injustice in our country? Yes we are, unanimously! Aren’t we fighting and struggling in our own small ways. Yes we are.

The Qur’an just mentions it. And like any other religion, good followers follow whatever is mentioned in their holy text. Right? Yes. That’s what Muslims are doing too.

As I said earlier Jihad is a struggle. But to struggle for what? To wage a war against any country who does not believe in your God? To kill unarmed civilians word wide? To tear yourself apart by detonating the bomb suit in crowded areas? No my friends, this is not Jihad, this is fundamentalism and extremism.

But acts like 26/11 are not done by Muslims. They are masterminded by extremists and fundamentalists. Extremists do not follow any religion, they follow their distorted philosophies. Some of the extremists in India are the Naxalites and the VHP and many off-shoots of Al-Qaeda. They just want to make a point and to propagate their distorted philosophy by killing innocent people. And how do they do it? Easy. Get hold of the poor, illiterate and desperate.

Kasab was a desperate man. He did not do this for religion. He did this for money. He was brainwashed in such a way that it was made clear to him that he is doing it for religion. Only when he was caught and on investigation we found out his reality, reality of deprivation and poverty. And hence he took the gun to earn a fast buck. So what if he died, at least his family must live on.

We are reading everyday in the newspapers that on an average one bomb per week are killing dozens of innocent people in Pakistan. Just think about it, these terrorists are not Muslims. Had they been Muslims, they would have at least thought once before killing their own kind.

This proves a point that terror has no logic, no religion. But religion is a nice garb under which immorality can be conducted. As a Muslim it saddens me to hear terms like “Islamic terrorists” in the media. The buggers (media) don’t understand Islam and Terror are poles apart. Islam means Peace. A simple Google search gives the meaning.

To end this I’ll just say what happened to my home Bombay was wrong and I hope and pray that the guilty should be punished. (I’m not saying WILL BE punished because unfortunately I don’t believe in our law)

Whatever is going around the world is wrong. The only way we can make it right is by doing right in our own little ways. Everyone in this world cannot be a Bill Gates to earn and then donate billions of dollars for betterment of the world. Let us pledge that we’ll do some good for this world every passing day. That’s what gives our lives some meaning.

I hope I have given some meaning to my life, at least today.